Christ Cathedral: A Galvanizing Cultural Icon and Center for Worship
A world-famous landmark for people of many faiths, the former Crystal Cathedral was synonymous with Rev. Robert Schuller and his “Hour of Power” television evangelization. When the Diocese of Orange purchased the church and its 34-acre complex in 2012, Catholic leaders committed to respect the famous site’s legacy while transforming the unique building and grounds into the vibrant new heart of worship for the 1.2-million Catholics living in Orange County.
The Diocese of Orange purchased the former Crystal Cathedral and its campus for the same reasons that Rev. Robert Schuller built it: having outgrown existing space, the diocese is overdue for an appropriate cathedral. Bishop Emeritus Tod Brown had purchased property in south Santa Ana and established Christ Our Savior parish in 2005, making plans for a new cathedral. Then Crystal Cathedral Ministries entered bankruptcy and the diocese became a bidder. Its central location and size (seating nearly 3,000) were ideal, and its cost – even with renovations – would be less than half of phase one of the planned cathedral complex. When the diocese’s bid was accepted, Dr. and Mrs. Schuller urged Orange County Catholics to “Steward this campus [to] keep it a light in Orange County that will never go out.”
As a symbol of the unity of believers and their Church, cathedrals have been central to Catholic worship for thousands of years. A cathedral is the diocese’s “mother church” and the core of liturgical life. The Diocese of Orange’s ambitious campaign will transform the historic Crystal Cathedral into the vibrant heart of the diocese.
St. Ignatius of Antioch stated that “where the Bishop is, there is the Church.” So the place where the Bishop formally presides over the holy table of God’s word and sacrament is central to our spiritual lives. As the liturgical heart and center of our Catholic faith, Christ Cathedral will inspire and challenge us, humbling us with its profound celebration of God’s magnificence.
A landmark beacon
The Christ Cathedral campus is a landmark beacon and growing spiritual center for the Christian faithful in Orange County and is filled with a collection of architecturally significant buildings. The buildings located on the 34-acre campus total almost 320,000 square feet. Buildings include the; Christ Cathedral, Arboretum, Large and Small Galleries, Tower of Hope, Crean Tower, Diocese of Orange Pastoral Center, and Cathedral Cultural Center. The campus also has a serene cemetery, the Cathedral Memorial Gardens. The natural landscapes, fountains, and sculptures that surround all the buildings are an uplifting respite from the nearby bustle of Orange County.
Because of its history, significance and scale, Christ Cathedral will continue to be a popular destination for tourists from across the globe. Its iconic beauty – and its many arts and cultural events and offerings – will shine as a cultural beacon to believers of all faiths. Most important, it will serve for decades, even centuries, as a central place of worship for Southern California Catholics.