Is there a Progressive Catholic Church in OC?

I’ve ben reading some of the coverage on the Msgr Urell case in the Register and OC Weekly, including this post by Gustavo today.  I have found that the Catholic Churches in OC are just too conservative for my taste.  Too much fire and brimstone and not enough about the hopeful message of the faith.

Before moving here from Bostn 10 years ago, my wife and son would drive into downtown Boston and attend Mass at the Paulist Fathers.  It was across the street from Boston Common and down the street from the State House.  Mass was enjoyable. 

The church would get in trouble with the archdiocese of Boston because of things like women playing an active role in the Mass.  The children of gays and lesbians would be baptized there.  The church even flew the Gay Pride flag before one of the Gay Pride parades in the city.  We got something about our faith from every service.  During the 2004 election cycle, when the Bishops asked each parish to read aloud a letter condemning Gay Marriage, the Paulist Center refused to do so.

What I want to know is why I can’t find something like this in the OC?  Is there such a church?  Please chime in.

  14 comments for “Is there a Progressive Catholic Church in OC?

  1. October 1, 2007 at 7:09 pm

    There is a guide to gay-friendly churches in CA at
    Most of the OC churches are Episcopal – Laguna, Laguna Hills, HB, CM, Irvine, San Clemente, Santa Ana, Tustin…
    Holy Family Cathedral in Orange is the only Catholic Church I can find. I saw Catholic Churches in Whittier and Long Beach, though.
    Good luck. Let us know if you find a good one!

  2. Dan Chmielewski
    October 1, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    Thanks. And so you know, I’m progressive and tolerant, not gay. I think my wife would be surprised!

  3. October 1, 2007 at 7:55 pm

    Just figured that gay-affirming churches would also be progressive in other ways….
    I think you’re much more than just “tolerant.”
    Knew you were a “breeder” – not that there’s anything wrong with that! 😉

  4. October 1, 2007 at 8:28 pm

    Try the Catholic Worker in SanTana. Also, Corpus Christi in Aliso Viejo is also Catholic and liberal.

  5. October 2, 2007 at 12:02 am


    I think Corpus Christi is where they had the annual Halloween Mass. Last year it featured a Eucharistic minister dressed as the devil, and the pastor dressed as Barney. I don’t think even a progressive Catholic would want to be associated with that travesty.

    I think they’ve discontinued that since sometime videotaped it for YouTube last year, and the Diocese could no longer ignore it.

    You’d probably be most comfortable in the Old Catholic Church, a schismatic sect that broke off after Vatican I. There’s one in Orange, and in Old World in Huntington Beach.

  6. Robert
    October 2, 2007 at 1:02 am

    It sounds as if you don’t really want to be Catholic or attend an actual Catholic church. I am sure there are many heretical churches out there for you to not practice catholicism. You seem to be confused about your own faith. Dogma and doctrine are not items of whimsy to be tweaked to fit your own skewed vision of the world. If you do not believe in Apolostolic succession and the teachings of the church then don’t act as if you do. You need a cafeteria, not a church. A place that will allow you to pick and choose what you believe.

  7. October 2, 2007 at 1:40 am

    Also, Corpus Christi in Aliso Viejo is also Catholic and liberal.

    The accurate thing to say is the pastor is a liberal.

  8. Dan Chmielewski
    October 2, 2007 at 7:21 am

    Matt — Google the Paulist Center in Boston and let me know if there is anything like that here.

    And thanks for the lesson Robert; but I think we can agree, the readings might be the same every Sunday in every Catholic Church, but what you take away from it differs greatly and it does matter where you go.

  9. james
    October 2, 2007 at 8:04 am

    Dwight and Lea at Catholic Worker in Santa Ana on S. Cypress Street are lefty – but I’d wonder if they’d want to be labeled “liberal.” The Catholic Worker tradition is not a liberal tradition. Most of the Catholic Workers I have known here and in the east lean toward Christian anarchism. They’re also not a church, in the standard sense. It’s a better description to say that they witness to the community about the hospitality Jesus advocated as a fundamental spiritual duty. In practice, that means their house is open to all comers without a place to sleep. Upwards of 100 people on some nights. I know they work with St. Joseph’s sometimes. For what you might find it worth, I wrote about them once on my blog:

  10. Northcountystorm
    October 2, 2007 at 9:22 am


    I’ve been attending Holy Family in Orange for years and haven’t really run into any fire and brimstone homilies. Some denouncement of abortion but just as many references to the need to accommodate immigrants and support a humane immigration policy. And much about the hopeful message of the faith. I have to admit though, no gay pride flags.

    I took your advice and checked out the Paulist Center in Boston. I guess it confirmed one thing—that you can have a progressive Catholic Church where they oppose abortion. And the War in Iraq–and capital punishment.

    I don’t know of a Catholic Church which fits the cultural niche of the Paulist Center in Boston–Our Lady of Assumption in Claremont was pretty Paulist I suppose(substituting “people” for “men” in the Creed) but Jubal is probably correct–it depends on the priest. Try Father Art Holquin at the Mission in San Juan but even there, you’re a long way from Boston Dorthy..

  11. October 2, 2007 at 9:28 am

    I was raised in a family of Catholics who had endured an era when the Church was more interested in serving itself than its people. (Some would say that era goes on, but I’m not entirely in agreement.) Although they each reached high levels of disenchantment with the Church they would no more stop going to church than stop breathing, and one by one they all became Episcopalians.

    Some Catholics denigrate Episcopalianism as “Catholic Lite” but IMO the two are distinct traditions that have some surface similarities. Episcopal churches are not universally more liberal than Catholic churches, but I think they are more open to a variety of points of view. Worth a try.

  12. October 2, 2007 at 10:00 am

    Halloween Mass sounds fun!
    Is it happening this year? Can someone post the details?

  13. just asking
    October 2, 2007 at 10:25 am

    St. Ireanaous in Cypress is led by a fairly young pastor and another young father who was a successful business executive who just dropped it all and became a priest. Both talk a lot about hope/faith and service, very inspiring. As all catholic churches these days, they are forced to read prepared statements and messages from bishops.

    Downside is they are in demand and always being assigned to special projects and community misses out when they are not here. You might check and see when Fr. Pat or Fr. Patrick are presiding over a mass. It will make you remember why we are Catholics. It will make you want to do something to help someone else.

  14. October 2, 2007 at 11:07 am


    You won’t find one, Mike Schroeder and Tom Fuentes will not let progressive Catholic Churches exist. If there was a Father Greg Boyle here in OC, they would run him out of town in a week. Sad isn’t it that these men are dictating for the Bishop, Jesus is looking down with disgust. They would rather expose your children to pedophiles than liberal thinking.


    Yeah, that stunt in Aliso Viejo was over the top, I personally would not advocate that. Of course nothing beats “Father Elvis” in Las Vegas. It is an actual Catholic Priest who runs a wedding chapel on the side and when at the chapel dresses as Elvis and marries people. When he is at the church he marries people as a Priest, but will perform at their receptions as Elvis. This was back inthe 90’s so I don’t know if he is still around. A friend attended a reception where he performed, he did a great “Jailhouse Rock.”

Comments are closed.