The Family: All Saints, All Souls and the Month of November

This past week I had the blessing of celebrating the 60th anniversary of the parish of St. Anthony Claret in Anaheim, along with the parish feast day.  The great day of celebration was led off by families, young and old, joining hands, praying and singing in procession around the parish Church, along Anna Street that is a neighborhood plagued by violence.  We were accompanied by music, the rosary, singing and “Bailie Folclorico” before Mass began.  The crowd was overflowing with some of the original families of the post war years, and the many new families of Hispanic, Filipino and Asian culture.  Together, families joined hands and voices to give thanks to God not only for the parish community, but the strength of the parish community , which in Faith is the main force in the neighborhood to meet fear and violence with the presence of Love and a Faith community.  The hands of all of the families in procession reached out to the hands of those in the neighborhood, as a bridge to Faith and peace, to show that violence never has the last word.

Just a week later I was present at another gathering of families at the celebrations of Masses for All Saints Day, and All Souls Day.  Before Mass on Saturday at Holy Sepulchre cemetery many of the children were dressed as Saints, and during this Mass (with over 2000+ present) families – from mothers and fathers, to grandparents and lots of children – prayed together at the cemetery, joined hands, and then led me to all of the altars for the “Dia de Los Muertos” altars blessings.  This was an experience of families in this world and the next, drawn together in these holy days  of All Saints Day and All Souls Day,  remind us that somehow the boundary between this world and the next, between heaven and earth and in between is somehow more fluid than we could ever imagine!

While the document from the Synod on the family is yet to be studied thoroughly in its actual word and context, the experience of the families of St. Anthony Claret and All Saints/All Souls Days was truly a lived experience of whole families witnessing their faith, and in that faith, making a difference in this world by a living testimony of joy and presence.  This is more than any word on paper can do!  These families truly reflect the “Joy of the Gospel” as Pope Francis has spoken about so often, both in Rome and here!  These families were for me, living witnesses of the reality of All Saints Day.  They reflect the words of Pope Benedict XVI who said regarding Saints that “being a saint—means living close to God, to live in his family (November 1, 2006).”

Thanks to all in Saint Anthony Claret parish and all at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery and our Diocesan staff who helped prepare these days, to lead us in to the Month of November – a month dedicated to all of the faithful departed, and to thanksgiving.

+Kevin W. Vann

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Sisters of St. Joseph: A Legacy of Caring

It was truly a wonderful moment last month when, on behalf of our community, I was able to solemnly bless the Chapel of Unity and Reconciliation in honor of the Sisters of St. Joseph. Indeed, this chapel now stands as more than a place of reflection and meditation, it stands as a tribute to and as a thank you for the many gifts the Sisters of St. Joseph have shared with our community over the past 100 years. This beautiful space will serve as a fitting reminder to all who visit the Christ Cathedral campus of the profound love of God shared with millions through the ministries of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, in service of the “dear neighbor.”

Following this beautiful celebration of the sisters’ deep commitment to the people of God, along with “final profession” and “jubilee” celebrations of their religious vows, I was very concerned to learn of an intimation or suggestion that aims to question the commitment of the sisters and their primary ministry, St. Joseph Health System, to the marginalized and vulnerable within our community and to the care of their employees and their families. Our sisters, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, have always held the needs of their employees, their families and our community at the heart of their mission. The sisters integrate an inherent respect for the worker at the core of their ministries, following the example of their patron, Saint Joseph the Worker. They look to Saint Joseph as a model of generous service and of right relationships—with God, his family, and the world.

I have not only learned of this heritage of generous service and right relationships from the experience of others, but through personal experience as well. I have made “official” visits to the three hospitals of the St. Joseph Health System in Orange County, but have found this to be the case as well in personal visits to St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton and St. Joseph Hospital in Orange. I often visit patients and friends unannounced, so there is no expectation of me showing up or any extra preparation for a visit. This is a continuation of what I learned in ministry as a parish priest , and I have seen and experienced the compassionate care for the patients and the competence of the medical and pastoral care staffs.

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange have a long and demonstrable history of identifying the needs of their dear neighbors and meeting those needs with compassion and love. Soon after their move from Eureka to Orange County in 1922, the sisters opened the 90-bed St. Joseph Hospital to meet the health care needs of their new community. In 1931 they purchased Fullerton General Hospital for $23,000. Knowing the aging facility would be unable to deliver high quality care, the sisters closed the facility and turned to the community for help building a new hospital. St. Jude Medical Center opened in 1957 and sisters could be found on every floor. In 1994, the sisters saw a need to have a presence in South Orange County and became the official sponsors of Mission Hospital.

Since arriving in Orange County the sisters have spread hope and love—teaching the deaf, assisting those in prison and visiting the sick in their homes. They have established countless ministries, including: the Pilgrimage Psychotherapy Center, Casita de San Jose to care for foster children, and St. Joseph Ballet (now called the Wooden Floor) for the children of Santa Ana.

The sisters have always humbly worked spreading the love of Christ among the most vulnerable. In 1995, four sisters moved into a gang-ridden neighborhood in central Santa Ana in an effort to better understand the issues and challenges facing the marginalized within this community. From this humble beginning, Taller San Jose, an educational and job-training center in downtown Santa Ana, was born. Taller San Jose has provided thousands of young people with new opportunities and new outlooks. In 1997, the sisters opened up their own home to provide transitional housing and support services for homeless and abused women. This was the beginning of Bethany, a safe and supportive respite guiding, challenging and empowering women in transition to achieve independent living and self-sufficiency. I have been blessed and grateful to visit both of these centers of ministry since I was appointed here. 

Following this tradition, today the St. Joseph Health System offers more than $400 million annually in community benefit programs—promoting health care access for children, prenatal care programs for expectant mothers, mobile clinics that provide primary care in underserved areas, and palliative and hospice care, among other important community health initiatives.

Please join me in honoring and thanking the ongoing commitment of our sisters to sharing the healing mission of Christ with the poor and vulnerable, and please pray for the many people who join our sisters in carrying out their mission within the St. Joseph Health System. Just last Sunday afternoon, when I visited St. Joseph Hospital, the words in the glass of the main entrance greeted me, as they do each and every time I visit. These words of Father Jean Pierre Medialle, S.J., who, along with Mother Saint John Fontbonne, founded the sisters, reflect the life and ministry and mission of all in the congregation and health system and related ministries: “We are willing to empty ourselves, to bend low, to wash feet, to heal wounds, all for the dear neighbor.”

The Chapels of Christ Cathedral

Many of us, when we have had the chance to visit a great church like the National Shrine in Washington, D.C., St. Peter’s in Rome and other cathedrals and houses of worship, also have a chance to visit smaller chapels in these great places of prayer, worship and music. For example, at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, there are many chapels on the upper level and the lower level dedicated to Mary the Mother of God, as she is known around the world. I have often had the chance to visit the Chapel of the Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and the Chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe, both in the cathedral.  Both of these images of the Mother of God are important to me for many reasons.

In the years that I was studying in Rome, and even since then, I have had the blessing to celebrate Mass for pilgrim groups: in the Irish chapel under the floor of the basilica, and in the Polish Chapel, for instance. Even last year I had the blessing to celebrate Mass in the side chapel on the main floor where now Saint John Paull II, one of my heroes, is buried. These chapels have been there many years before our arrival, and we are blessed to be able to pray in them and visit them.

However, what a blessing we now have on the Christ Cathedral campus. Right before our eyes is living history as chapels of prayer and worship, thanks to the generosity and goodness of so many, now come to life right before our eyes. All of these chapels on the campus are surely signs of the “living House of God” as each is blessed and dedicated.

Just this past Sunday I blessed and dedicated the “Chapel of Unity and Reconciliation” on the third floor of the Cultural Center in honor of the Sisters of St. Joseph. There is a magnificent mural by the great local artist John Swanson that depicts Jesus washing the feet of the 12 Apostles. Then there is the “Chapel in the Sky” in the Tower of Hope, which has a magnificent view of Orange County. That was also recently blessed. Then there is the large gallery, often used for prayer and funerals by the parish. The Blessed Sacrament Chapel is a visible testimony of the necessity of “praying always” when we see folks there in prayer with their intentions before the Blessed Sacrament. There will soon be an oratory for the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament on the fourth floor of the Christ Cathedral Academy building, as a place for the staff of the Pastoral Center to pray. There is the beautiful colored marble “Crean Chapel” in the base of the carillon. Then there is the original Garden Grove Community Church, now known as the Arboretum, which was Dr. Robert Schuller’s original church. This now is the home for the worshipping community of the parish of Christ Cathedral, where more than 10,000 people come to celebrate Mass and pray each weekend. And most incredibly, this is all taking place before the actual Cathedral building is complete!

All of these chapels not only invite us to pray and reflect, but to show how the living Body of Christ is growing daily on the Christ Cathedral campus. I would invite everyone who reads these words to come and visit our campus. The Lord is calling you to find a “home” and blessing there.

As Saint Paul would say, we are all members of the “Household of God,” and the chapels of Christ Cathedral invite us to reflect on the reality and become the “Living Stones” of the Body of Christ. I hope to see some of you on campus someday.

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Saying ‘yes’ to life

As I reflected on in my last writing, I recently had to return to Springfield, Ill., to go through our family home one last time before it was sold. My sister and I walked through it and had a wonderful chance to visit about our parents and all that they had done for us. I found a few more of my mother’s prayer cards and those of my father as well. As my brother Les said when some of our family was here for my father’s memorial Mass, my sister is truly a “heroine” for having made sure that my parents were able to be in their home until the very end of their lives, through the many challenges of their illnesses. Both of them passed away from the effects of Parkinson’s disease. I wrote about my father’s journey through the last days of this debilitating illness, and because we are close to the anniversary of my mother’s death in 2012, I was thinking of her last days as well; they were very similar.

Both of those experiences (and many others I’ve had as a pastor) taught me the absolute blessing of palliative and hospice care to make sure that there is no pain for those in their last days and also ensuring that they are cared for and not alone. My personal experience with my parents is one of the many reasons that I was very concerned about SB 128 and wanted to work with the broad-based coalition Californians Against Assisted Suicide.

Like Archbishop Gomez, I too am grateful for the thoughtful reflection that the State Assembly’s Health Committee members gave to this complex issue. This is not a “Catholic issue” even though it is being framed as such. Physician-assisted suicide involves fundamental questions of human dignity and social justice. The elderly, the poor, those living in immigrant and minority communities, and the handicapped are especially vulnerable to this type of legislation. Not long ago, a woman from another country introduced me to her two autistic sons, and thanked us for being the voice for them.

When Bishop Robert McElroy was installed as the Bishop of San Diego, he used a very powerful image of “accompaniment”: that is, a diocesan bishop is to accompany his people in their journey of faith. That applies to each and every one of us. Catholic teaching is often caricatured as a series of “no”.  However, every “no” actually means a “yes”. In continued reflection on this critical part of life, we can ask ourselves how to say “yes” when accompanying those who are suffering or in pain. A “no” to this bill means a “yes” that opens the door for every one of us to know and journey with those friends and family of ours who are in their last days so they are not alone. A “no” to this bill means a “yes” to doing all that we can to help ensure that our voices may be raised in support of quality palliative care for all. It also means a “yes” to be part of a community of love and concern for all those whom we know and love to their very last breath.

As I think of my mother and father again, I reflect on these words of Archbishop Gomez: “California has a long and proud tradition of leadership in promoting human dignity and access to health care for everyone living in our great state. In that spirit, I pray that we can come together as people of good will to seek the solutions—in medical training, geriatrics, palliative treatment and other areas–that can truly improve the compassionate care of terminally ill patients and those at the end of life.”

Finally, it would be well for us, when we have the chance, to acknowledge the work of the members of the Assembly, in their service for the common good and in facing difficult issues such as this.

Bishop Vanns Parents(1)

849 S. Douglas

I was able this past week to spend a couple of days back in Springfield, Ill., being present to participate in the jubilee celebrations of the Hospital Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis. Several of the jubilarians have been good friends and co-workers in ministry these many years.

I was also able to spend some time with my sister Mary Therese (M.T.) and visit the family home at 849 S. Douglas.  My sister deserves recognition and a “medal of honor” for caring for my parents, and working to ready the house on South Douglas that we occupied since l967 for resale. That meant going through years and years of many things accumulated by my parents, especially my mother. Many things have already been taken out of the home and distributed, but I went one last time through every room of the house and even the attic. As I went up and down the stairs I thought of and remembered the example of my mother and father and how they lived the sacrament of marriage. I saw the window in the attic where we used to throw snowballs at the passing cars. I went through the rooms on the second floor and could almost hear my father saying, “You people get up…can’t get you to bed at night and can’t get you up in the morning!” I saw the phone where my mother often spent hours keeping in touch with her family and friends. I also found two wax Christmas figures that had belonged to my grandparents, Les and Mary Jones, and these wax figures were old. I used to put them on my grandparents mantle every Christmas. The house and rooms and what was left spoke of marriage and family and how my mother and father lived out the God-given gift of the sacrament of marriage.

I went one more time back to the attic, and it was already getting hot—more than 90 degrees. Summer in Illinois was coming on, and I remember how hot this attic used to get. I did find several boxes of my seminary and Canon Law notes. In one box were the notes from my days at the Angelicum studying Canon Law. In the heat and the emptiness of the attic, I read my notes that were made during the time of the preparation for the revised Code of Canon Law. In the emptiness and memories of the attic, the words of the drafts of the canons on marriage, which became Canon 1055, ring true and prophetically in today’s challenging culture:

“Canon 1055—Par. 1. The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring, has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament between the baptized.”

May the Lord guide us, bless us and always keep us in his care.



For the beauty of creation, thanks be to God.

The words above are from the opening of a hymn often sung at Thanksgiving time, and which truly reflect the beauty of God’s creation, especially here on the West Coast.  Growing up, I knew the beauty of the West coast only by National Geographic magazine!  Yet, I have experienced it first-hand here in Southern California and other parts of the West.  I remember the first time that I flew to Portland on a clear day to visit our seminarians at Mt. Angel seminary when I saw so many of the Cascades covered in snow shining in the early morning sun.  As I prayed Morning Prayer, this truly was an occasion to praise God!

While much ink has already been spilt over the Holy Father’s upcoming encyclical on the environment entitled “Laudato Sii”, we already have many opportunities to indeed  praise and thank God for the beauty of creation and exercise responsibility for it.

John Allen, who recently spoke at our Conference on Business and Ethics has reflected more than one time on the similarities between Pope Francis and Pope Benedict and even Pope John Paul II.  It would be well to examine what can be called the “Papal Magisterium” on creation and the environment to give us background and foundation for the new encyclical, and especially to read it for ourselves and not what it is presumed to say.

For example, on Monday, June 10, 2002 there was the “Common Declaration of John Paul II and the Ecumenical Patriarch His Holiness Bartholomew I”.  In part it says that “God has not abandoned the world. It is His will that His design and our hope for it will be realized through our co-operation in restoring its original harmony. In our own time we are witnessing a growth of an ecological awareness which needs to be encouraged, so that it will lead to practical programs and initiatives.  An awareness of the relationship between God and humankind brings a fuller sense of the importance of the relationship between human beings and the natural environment, which is God’s creation and which God has entrusted to us to guard with wisdom and love (cf. Gen 1:28). And he would later also say that “The earth will not continue to offer its harvest, except with faithful stewardship.  We cannot say we love the land and then take steps to destroy it for us by future generations.”

          Turning next to Pope Benedict we also find that in his 2007 Encyclical entitled Spe Salvi (In Hope We are Saved),  he teaches that “We can free our life and the world from the poisons and contaminations that could destroy the present and the future.  We can uncover the sources of creation and keep them unsullied, and in this way we can make a right use of creation, which comes to us as a gift, according to its intrinsic requirements and ultimate purpose.  This makes sense even if outwardly we achieve nothing or seem powerless in the face of overwhelming hostile forces.  So on the other hand, our actions engender hope for us and for others; but at the same time, it is the great hope based upon God’s promises that give us courage and directs our action in good times and bad.”

As the beauty of the sunrise leads to the beauty of the sunsets here, and as the solemnity of the Pacific seen from the pier gives a perspective to time and eternity and makes our daily challenges seem small [and that God has the last word!]  -  so too does the teaching of Pope Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI lead to, and gives us a perspective on the new Encyclical of Pope Francis on the environment in  giving praise to God and our God given responsibilities.

At the time of Morning Prayer, when I see the reds and purples of the bougainvillea in the morning sun, or the blue of the Pacific in the evening sun and at time of Evening Prayer, the teachings of the recent Popes can give us all a framework to be mindful of the glory of God and to give thanks and praise.

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A book that is often used by Priests and Deacons in their ministry is The Roman Ritual’s Book of Blessings.  In the introduction to this book we find the following words:  “As the Church, through the working of the Holy Spirit, fulfills its many sided ministry of sanctifying, it has accordingly established many forms of blessing.  Through them it calls us to praise God, encourages us to implore his protection, exhorts us to seek his mercy by our holiness of life, and provides us with ways of praying that God will grant the favors we ask.

           The blessings instituted by the Church are included among those signs perceptible to the senses by which human sanctification in Christ and the glorification of God are ‘signified and brought about in ways proper to each of these signs.’  Human sanctification and God’s glorification are the ends toward which all the Church’s other activities are directed.”

We have been very blessed these last days, on the Christ Cathedral campus, to  experience not only the ritual of blessings, but have a celebrations of Thanksgiving for the generosity of so many in building this part of the “City of God” and to continue our journey into the future for the continued progress on the Cathedral building itself.  Each of these ceremonies was a “stepping stone” in the journey of Faith on the Christ Cathedral campus toward the future.

We were able to bless the “Chapel in Sky” in the Tower of Hope, and celebrate Mass surrounded by the beauty of Orange County, and to officially inaugurate this chapel as a Catholic place of prayer.   We had the very powerful experience of the blessing of the exhibit area of the second floor of the Cathedral Cultural center where the beautiful new Tabernacle by Igino Weinert is seen.  This moment was a reflection on the centrality of the Eucharist in our lives and in the Christ Cathedral.  Msgr. Holquin gave a very inspirational reflection on the Tabernacle, is beauty, and its catechetical value for all who will see it, and pray in its presence when the Blessed Sacrament will be reserved there.   Finally, the dedication of the new West Coast studio of EWTN, with its latest state-of-the-art technology, in the Tower of Hope, not only follows Dr. Schuller’s pioneering work in television, but extends the presence of the Eternal Word Network. The important broadcast presence will be instrumental in the continuing of the new Evangelization on the West Coast and in our country, especially honoring all of the ethnic cultures here and the living out of our Catholic Faith.

The joy of these days of blessings, in the journey of Faith that has been, and is, Christ Cathedral is best summed up in this special blessing prayer: “Lord, let the effect of your blessing remain with your faithful people to give them new life and strength of spirit, so that the power of your love will enable them to accomplish what is right and good.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.” 

Thank you to all who attended, who prepared these days of blessings, and whose generosity made all of this possible, as move in our journey of Faith at Christ Cathedral, “siempre adelante.”

God bless you and thank you for all.

+Kevin W. Vann


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EWTN Launch & Blessing of Control Room


As the death of Francis Cardinal George was announced, I spent time reflecting on his life and ministry.  I met him many years ago when I was on a trip to Rome and he was the Bishop of Yakima at the time.  We were seated across the aisle from one another on the flight to Rome, and he said simply “Hello I am Francis George.”

In the years that followed I was fortunate to learn about his life and ministry, especially all of his years as Vicar General of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.  When he was appointed the Archbishop of Chicago, I got to know him better through my involvement as a judge in the Metropolitan Court of Appeal in the Archdiocese, as I made many trips to Chicago for that important work and ministry. As a priest of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois he would have been the Metropolitan Archbishop for the Province of Illinois, where Springfield is included.

After I was appointed the Bishop of Fort Worth Texas, we began to see each other more often, and he was always interested in, and supportive of my life and ministry in Fort Worth.  He knew Texas and the Province of San Antonio because of the presence of the Oblate Fathers in Texas.  His leadership of the US Bishops Conference reflected his intellect, his faith and his humor.  On more than one occasion, his incisive comments were able to help focus the seemingly endless debates of the Bishops on various topics.  I always enjoyed hearing him preach because I knew that whatever he preached on or said had great value for our lives of Faith.  When my mother died nearly three years ago he called to see how I was doing.  When at an earlier time in Texas I had fallen and injured my knee he called to see how I was recovering.  He personally asked me to become involved in the life of the Bishops’ Conference by being on the committee that helped to establish the “Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter” and to become the liaison of the Bishops’ Conference to the National Association of Divorced and Separated Catholics.  His influence and impact on the life of the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Church in the United States is a heritage for all of us to further reflect on in the years to come.

If one is looking for a book that he wrote that would be a good read I would recommend The Difference God Makes; A Catholic Vision of Faith, Communion and Culture (The Crossroad Publishing Company, New York).  In that book, in one place he says that “The deepest truth that Catholics live is that of ‘communio.’ All things and all people are ordered to God and ordered to love one another.  This truth informs everything we say about political, social and economic realms.  “If we surrender this truth – either through ideological compromise or even out of concern for civility – we succumb to the culture of death.” At another place in the same book he writes concerning the ministry of Bishops in this way: “In the Church today, there are voices on the left that resent the Church’s teaching about many issues, particularly sexual morality, and therefore resent the bishops who uphold it.  There are voices on the right that say they embrace the teaching but resent bishops who do not govern the Church exactly as they say bishops should.  But the nature of the episcopacy is to be free to act in Christ’s name as pastors of the Church.  Bishops cannot be co-opted by state authority or political power, nor by pressure groups within the Church, lest the Bishops fail in their office.”

For another Servant of the Lord we look to the words of the Lord Himself:  “Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.”

+Bishop Kevin Vann


JP with Schuller

I am sitting here at home on Good Friday evening, after having celebrated the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the Santa Clara Good Friday Prayer Breakfast, and the service of the Lord’s passion at Holy Family Cathedral in Orange. Tomorrow evening is Holy Saturday evening, the Third night of the “Triduum” – that is three days – which not only celebrate but bring us once more to live the “Paschal Mystery of Christ” – his suffering, death and Resurrection.  We are reminded through the Word of God and the Sacramental symbols of the Church’s Liturgy how we participate in the very life, death and resurrection of Christ the Lord.  It is particularly significant that the great servant of the Lord, Dr. Robert Schuller, went home to the Lord whom he loved and served at the beginning of these Holy Days.   I wanted to write just a few more words to those thoughts and words that have already been added.  The words “well done good and faithful servant” have been very aptly used to describe him.  I have added the Latin word to that title, which means “again”.  Thus, “Again, well done good and faithful servant.”

My first memories of Dr. Schuller go back to the early l960’s when my grandparents bought their first color television set!  My parents still had a black and white set with three channels!  In the amazement of those colors I would catch a glimpse and listen to Dr. Schuller all of the way from Southern California!  At that same time, my grandmother would listen to Bishop Sheen in his program “Life is Worth Living”, and then all of the kids would crowd around the set on Sunday evenings for Walt Disney’s wonderful world of color! Another image of southern California, and I would wonder if I would ever get to see that faraway place with all of its attractions and beauty! Well, when through God’s providence I did come here to Southern California.  I had the chance, then, just last year when I mentioned to Dr. Schuller that I had seen him on television, and his response was “Really ?”. I said that yes I had and his way of preaching reminded me of Bishop Sheen, and he replied that “he was a good friend of mine.”!

I was fortunate enough to see the video of Dr. Schuller’s words to the priests of Orange upon the acquisition of the Cathedral campus.  He came to my installation in December of 2012 and I was fortunate to visit with him then, and since then.  I would visit with him and Arvella on special occasions, and she and I would reflect on Christian hymns, music and Church organs.

It was a blessing for me to visit both he and Arvella in the hospital last year and pray with both of them.  I asked him to pray with me also at that time, and it was humbling to hear his words for me as well.  I am grateful that I visited with him last year at about this same time and could thank him for his faithful service of the Word of God, which lifted up and encouraged so many people here and around the world.

It was in those short meetings that I got a glimpse into a window that God had given me of Faith, the ministry of the Word, and the love that he and Arvella had for each other.  I had but a glimpse of what others here had experienced for many years.  But I am grateful to God for that glimpse.  “Iterum  – again”, truly, well done good and faithful servant, enter now in the joy of your Lord!

I would like to share , among the many tributes of these days to Dr. Schuller, the words of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano at last November’s meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

“Turning to a brighter perspective, I recently, toward the beginning of the month, visited Bishop Vann in the Diocese of Orange.  He asked me to bless the Tower of Hope, one of the beautiful buildings of the magnificent Christ Cathedral complex that the Diocese recently acquired from the great evangelical preacher, Fr. Robert Schuller.  You are aware how, by complete dedication to his ministry, he moved countless numbers of people to a real conversion of heart – so many types of people who were willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of Jesus and his Gospel.”

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Renewing our Commitment

National Child Abuse Prevention Month

In an effort to raise awareness of the suffering caused by child abuse and neglect, Congress and the President designated April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in 1983. Since that time religious, public service, philanthropic and other organizations that care deeply for the welfare of children have marked April as a special time for highlighting and renewing their commitments to the care and protection of children and young people.

As your Bishop nothing is more important to my pastoral mission than to provide the utmost care for those who need it most. From counseling the needy to extending financial aid to caregivers, our Church and Diocese are committed to the physical, spiritual and social well-being of everyone we encounter. This is particularly true for the children we seek to support, guide and care for.

It is important to me and our diocese that we mark this national observance by recalling and reinforcing our steadfast commitment to creating and maintaining safe environments for children in our schools, parishes and other facilities. The Diocese of Orange takes this task very seriously, as does the broader Church. We employ a comprehensive background screening for all adults likely to be in contact with children – already over 75,000 have been vetted. This process allows for the collection of a wide variety of past screening data, including extensive backgrounds checks and fingerprinting, and is designed to enhance already in-place diocesan policies.

Our diocese additionally requires all clergy, employees, and volunteers to undergo Safe Environment Training. In 2014 alone, the Diocese trained 286 priests, 115 deacons, 1,664 teachers, and more than 25,519 school employees and volunteers. Our schools and Religious Education classes at parishes and diocesan centers also provide Safe Environment education for children. This procedure is suited to their age and level of understanding. In 2014, nearly 44,000 children participated in this critically important awareness program.

Please join me in recognizing the tireless efforts put forth by those involved in the development and implementation of all initiatives for the protection of children and young people. Keep them in your prayers and remember that care for others is a duty and a gift. By sharing our concern and becoming responsible for the safety and well-being of those who come into our care is a spiritual act we can be proud of, every day.

The Church has worked hard to protect children and remains vigilant in protecting and caring for our most cherished resource. Much has been done, but more needs to be done. Until abuse is no longer a part of society, I and our Church will continue these efforts to protect children, youth and vulnerable adults.