Timothy and Susan Strader are doers. The Newport Beach couple has been at the center of many projects and initiatives that have positively impacted residents and visitors to Orange County and beyond. Their work will continue to benefit generations to come.
Philanthropy and voluntarism have been a way of life for the Straders, who have been involved in projects that benefit the arts, education, health care and the Catholic Church. Tim Strader has taken the lead on a number of philanthropic and community projects, including serving on the boards of the UCI Foundation, Irvine Health Foundation, and the Orange County Performing Arts Center (now Segerstrom Center for the Arts). The Straders helped found the Center; Tim has been on the board since 1979 and was president when it opened in 1986. He was the lawyer who formed the city of Irvine in 1971. He and his wife, Susan, are founders of Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Rancho Santa Margarita. In 1989 they brought to Orange County the Legatus organization. The group for Catholic executives now has four chapters within the county.
And now, recruited by Bishop Kevin Vann, together they are leading the campaign committee that will help raise the funds needed to complete the sanctuary at Christ Cathedral, enabling generation after generation of Catholics to celebrate Catholic Mass inside the renovated cathedral.
“Susan and I work as a team. We believe that every great metropolitan area needs certain things for the community,” Strader says, pointing to UC Irvine, the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, and other critical pillars that shape a region. “We also have professional sports teams here. We have the Angels and the Ducks; we have Angel Stadium and the Honda Center. Orange County has everything that a great metropolitan area needs — except a cathedral large enough to serve the diocese. Our current Holy Family Cathedral in Orange was built in 1921 as a parish church and was designated as the first cathedral to serve the newly established Diocese of Orange in 1976.” Christ Cathedral is the second cathedral established in the diocese.
Strader says the time has come. “We are the second-largest county in the state of California. We have 3 million people and over 1.2 million Catholics,” he said.
“It’s more than a cathedral in Orange County. We think this campus will be as important to the Catholic Church as St. Patrick’s Cathedral is in New York,” Strader said. “Orange County is a tourist destination for people from all over the world because of Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm. This campus will be on people’s agendas — to come and visit Christ Cathedral as part of their pilgrimage or travel plans to Southern California.”
The Straders’ faith is at the heart of all they do together, and this project, among all of the others, is special because of that faith.
“Both of us lost our fathers when they were young and we were young,” Susan said. “So it was our Catholic mothers who somehow made it possible for us to stay in Catholic school.” They both went to UCLA, where they met as members of the Newman Club on campus, a Catholic ministry center inspired by the writings of Cardinal John Henry Newman.
Married 50 years, they have four children and 11 grandchildren.
“We believe in family,” Strader said. “Everything we do is centered on our family. And, the most important aspect of family is spirituality. We see Christ Cathedral as an opportunity to provide future generations a place to come and enjoy the spirituality that we have been blessed to experience. That’s why we’re involved.”
The goal of the final phase of this fundraising effort is $20 million to complete the sanctuary. To date, more than $5.5 million has been pledged from donors towards that goal.
“Because several parishes are getting ready for their own capital campaigns in 2017 and 2018 and many families are still completing their multi-year pledges to the For Christ Forever Campaign, this will not be a diocesan-wide initiative,” Susan said. Tim explained that the campaign will be reaching out to those who have not yet had the opportunity to participate with a major gift.
“And for those that have,” Susan added, “to consider increasing the gift they’ve already made.”
“We’ve been involved in many major projects and when you’re involved in major projects, there is a process,” Strader said. “And the process for a project of this magnitude takes time. It takes patience. It takes perseverance. It takes prayers and faith. We’re focused on raising the funds needed to transform the sanctuary into a Catholic worship space in order to dedicate the newly renovated Christ Cathedral for Mass.”
For further information, or to make a gift or pledge to help finish the Christ Cathedral sanctuary, please contact Tony Jennison, Vice President of Philanthropy at the Orange Catholic Foundation at (714) 282-6041 or [email protected].