On Friday morning, scores of Orange County residents rallied around global causes, praying for peace in Ukraine and Russia and alternatively calling for action on climate change. 

Some residents headed to church. Others took to the streets. 

Julie Leopo

An enterprising and award-winning photojournalist in Orange County and beyond. Leopo, as Voice of OC’s Director of Photography, has captured a wide array of photographs visually documenting the news and soul of Orange County local government and community. Her work has also appeared in Vice, KCET, Ed Source, The California Endowment and OC Weekly.

Early Friday morning Catholics packed into the arboretum at the Christ Cathedral to pray for peace, following a global call for prayer from Pope Francis. Meanwhile, Fridays for Future called for a global protest citing the lack of action in the climate crisis.

In Garden Grove, the Pope’s ask was met with 600 Orange County Catholics praying to end a war in Ukraine and bolster democracy in Russia. 

Over in Orange, Fridays for Future mobilized young people, who joined other youth from all over the world protesting in their cities. 

During the protest in Orange, Climate activist Johanan Speiser, one of the organizers for Fridays for Future began her speech with the quote of a young person in the Philippines, “My country has been devastated by typhoons and droughts, I am afraid of drowning in my own bedroom.” 

“I hope God has compassion, I do not know where this will take all of us,” said Sierra Guiterrez when asked about her thoughts on the Ukraine invasion. 

Seemingly enough, young activists from environmental activist groups Fridays for Future and Reform and Sustain are ringing the alarm and asking that changes be made because their future depends on it. 

But remind local leaders that they aren’t the only ones.

“I hope that local leaders and leaders, globally, see the number of people that are here and think this is something our constituents care about. I hope you’re taking note of this, I hope you see it’s not just young people, it’s all of your constituents,” said Jordyn Murray, 18,  environmental activist and co-founder of Reform and Sustain, “we have people of all ages here: people who can’t vote yet, but are about to be able to, people who have been voting for 60 plus years, everyone is here because the climate is something everyone cares about, so you should make it your priority. We are the people who are voting you into office and it’s your job to represent us.”

Mariana Duenas, a religious sister for 18 years, sits in silence waiting for the prayer service to begin. “Today is very important as we all unite in prayer. We are all involved in this war and need to ask God for a favor, or miracle–to stop the war and save the children. We need to be humble,” said Duenas Friday morning. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
Up to 600 people gathered early Friday morning to consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Virgin of Fatima.
Catholics hold their hands in prayer during service dedicated to the consecration of Russia and Ukraine, in the Arboretum of the Christ Cathedral in Orange. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
Enedina Saldana, 75, prays at the feet of Mary. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
Pope Francis asked all Catholics to gather for prayer concerning the war between Russia and Ukraine. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
Alberta Corona, 47, from Puebla, Mexico, stands in front of the Virgen for a photo after prayer. “ I am here to consecrate because too many people are dying. I don’t understand why there is so much war,” said Corona to Voice of OC, “the children shouldn’t die, they have not even lived.” Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
Johanna Spesier, 20, a student at Chapman University and one of the organizers for Fridays for Future, stands in front of Orange City Hall. Spesier, who had led the rallies before the pandemic is a strong believer in creating change at a local level.  “I know this is a global crisis, and sometimes it can feel like there is not much we can do but I actually think cities have a big part, globally, and this needs to come from the people and local groups. It needs to be bottom-up so I think cities have an important role in solving the climate crisis. We can create cities with more equitable cleaner air and more green spaces.” 
Jene Vernon, 86,  who was on vacation from Virginia visiting her family in Orange County took the day to take part in the global protest. “We have to take care of our planet, there is only one.” 
A protest sign is seen on a stroller. Mothers and children were present, many of the mothers took their child out of class for the protest. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice o OC
A portion of the youth present at the protest gathers under the heat of the sun to hear about current policies and legislation encouraging them to act locally. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
Angelina Kliewer, 11, stands with her schoolmates who are also missing school on March 25, 2022. “It [climate change] is a problem and I have to be out here, I am not in school today and it makes a statement,” says Kliewer. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
The youth present at the climate action protest at the Orange Circle on March 25, 2022. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC


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