Now that Christ Cathedral was dedicated on July 17, the Cathedral and its surrounding grounds make a perfect location for families to visit and learn more about their faith.
A day trip to the 34-acre Cathedral campus could include a docent-led tour, or families could choose to explore the beauty of the site on their own.
“A visit to Christ Cathedral is an opportunity for children to recognize the larger reality of the Catholic Church,” declares Katie Dawson, director of Parish Faith Formation for the Diocese of Orange. “They experience the church as their own local parish in their day-to-day interactions. But the Catholic Church is universal and a day trip to the cathedral can help parents explain the role of the diocese as the center of the local church.”
On a more practical level, Dawson says, children will be impressed by the artwork on display throughout the cathedral grounds. “It’s beautiful,” she says. “From fountains to statuary to the sacred art in the cathedral – there is so much for a child to look at; and the art provides an opportunity for parents to have conversations about why we believe what we believe through the millennia.”
With the 52-bell Arvella Schuller Carillon chiming every hour inside the 18-story Crean Tower, says Sister Katherine ‘Kit’ Gray, the Christ Cathedral grounds are an especially nice place to visit on a sunny summer afternoon.
“It’s a great place for families and children because of the beauty of the grounds,” says Sister Kit, who serves as the cathedral’s director of Mission Integration and Ongoing Formation. “I see it every Sunday, with families walking among the statues and fountains and children jumping around on the grass.”
“The new sacred art inside the cathedral, the buildings by three iconic architects – including Richard Meier, who designed the Cultural Center as well as the Getty Museum – and the new Christ Cathedral Gift Shop, make the cathedral a wonderful place for a family visit.”
She notes that families can embark on journeys to visit all or just one the 11 Stations of Mercy that were erected throughout the campus in 2016, Pope Francis’s Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Historically the grounds will always be connected with Rev. Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral Ministries, she says. “Now we have our parish and live out our faith there, with the focus of unity toward something bigger.”
As a teacher, she thinks about ways the statues depicting the Scriptures could be used for teaching opportunities. “Jesus walking on water, the Prodigal Son, Moses and the Commandments – these are big and beautiful ways for us to illustrate Bible stories,” she notes. “We can ask, ‘Who is Moses, and why is he holding those tablets?’”
Meditation and prayer, education and enlightenment are invited and encouraged, notes Trudy Mazzarella, who heads the cathedral docent program. Self-guided and docent tours originate in the Cultural Center.
“I would hope that visitors to the cathedral come to realize that this is the center of who we are as the Church of Orange, all gathered as representing 62 parishes, in the place where we can acknowledge the diversity of ourselves as Catholic Christians,” Mazzarella says.
Docent-led tours last 30-45 minutes. Groups of 15 or more people require reservations. Please contact Mazzarella at [email protected] or 714-620-7916. Visitors also can take virtual tours online at https://christcathedralcalifornia.org/explore/about-christ-cathedral/virtual-tour/.