Christ Cathedral


The 34-acre campus of Christ Cathedral includes seven iconic structures and an ecumenical cemetery

By STAFF     7/19/2019

The doors opened to the Pastoral Center building in 1990, at a cost of $25 million and entirely debt free. It was designed by Gin Wong and Associates, also known for designing the Arco Tower and Midnight Mission in Los Angeles, as well as the futuristic Theme Building at LAX. The former Family Life Center served for many years as the Crystal Cathedral Academy. 

Featuring 132,000 square feet, the third and fourth floors now house the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange Pastoral Center, home to the offices of The Most Reverend Kevin W. Vann, Bishop of Orange and the ministries of the diocese. These offices were originally located at Marywood in the city of Orange and moved to these facilities in 2013, shortly after the Diocese of Orange acquired the then-Crystal Cathedral campus. 

The first and second floors of the Pastoral Center are now home to the Christ Cathedral Academy, a state-of-the-art educational facility. 


Christ Cathedral Academy 


Housed within the first and second floors of the Pastoral Center, St. Callistus Catholic School was relocated in 2013 to these new facilities and renamed Christ Cathedral Academy. 

This Catholic school accepts new students with classes for preschoolers through eighth grade. Offering innovative curricula from highly trained staff, Christ Cathedral Academy is a state-of-the art educational facility, featuring a full-sized gymnasium, dance studio, science lab, and more. 


Cathedral Memorial Gardens 


A peaceful, ecumenical cemetery, the Cathedral Memorial Gardens is located in the shadow of Christ Cathedral. 

The cemetery was dedicated in 1991 and offers many different burial options within tranquil grounds accented by flowing fountains, beautiful landscaping and majestic art installations. The Diocese of Orange is proud to offer Catholics, and those of all faiths and backgrounds, a beautiful, serene final resting place. Construction underway at the cemetery will expand the grounds by three quarters of an acre to provide additional interment space. 

Rev. Schuller and his wife, Arvella, are buried in the family plot area. The Cathedral Memorial Gardens is also the final resting place for some notable individuals including: 

  • Marie Callender (Marie Callender’s Restaurants)
  • Thurl Ravenscoft (the voice of Tony the Tiger featured in Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes cereal commercials)
  • Roger Williams (popular pianist)
  • John and Donna Crean (Fleetwood Enterprises)


Crean Tower and Mary Hood Chapel 


Named for John and Donna Crean whose contributions helped fund its construction, the Crean Tower was completed in 1990. 

Upon the tower’s completion, the Los Angeles Times declared that the (former) Crystal Cathedral “can now be truly classified as an Orange County landmark.” 

Designed by Philip Johnson, this stunning 236-foot stainless-steel mirrored spire stands over 18 stories tall and houses a magnificent 52-bell carillon. The Arvella Schuller Carillon was named in honor of her 35 years of service in bringing beautiful music to the church. This remarkable collection of bells ranges from six inches to nearly six feet and were forged by the Royal Eijsbouts Bell Foundry in the Netherlands. The entire carillon assembly weighs 42,000 pounds and was lifted into place on May 25, 1990, by two cranes working in tandem. The bells may be played manually from a room high inside the tower or remotely from a cell phone. 

Just below the tower is the Mary Hood prayer chapel, named for the wife of the late Clifford E. Hood, former president of the United States Steel Corporation, who made the chapel possible with a gift of $1 million dollars. The chapel is a circular structure set with 33 solid, multi-colored marble cylindrical columns, representing Jesus’ 33 years of life, and 12 white columns representing the 12 apostles. A bronze plaque on the floor seals a prayer capsule located beneath the altar that contains 33,000 unopened prayers received from around the globe, representing future generations. The chapel has no lock, as Rev. Schuller wished that it would be open to all for meditation. 


Cathedral Cultural Center 

Originally known as the Welcome Center, the Cathedral Cultural Center was completed in 2002. It was designed by world-renowned architect Richard Meier, also known for his commission of the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Jubilee Church in Rome, Italy. This five-floor, 53,056-square-foot building is the capstone of the iconic Christ Cathedral campus and is a post-modern expression of Richard Neutra’s original design concepts. It was built in an ovalinear design in order to geometrically complement the existing rectilinear architecture of the Arboretum and Tower of Hope and the triangular layout of the Crystal Cathedral. In 2013, the building was featured as Star Fleet Command in the film “Star Trek: Into Darkness” and the interior was used in several scenes throughout the movie. The lower level houses The Susan & Timothy Strader Family Atrium, an indoor/outdoor reception area and the state-of-the-art 298-seat Freed Performing Arts Theatre that features upgraded surround sound electronics and a movable orchestra pit. This theatre has welcomed movie premieres, theatrical presentations, concerts and other special events. 

The upper floors house world-class art and spiritual exhibits and offer many cultural events to the community. The current exhibit is Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition. A bookstore and gift shop recently opened on the main level. 


Tower of Hope 


Designed by Richard Neutra and his son Dion, the 13-story Tower of Hope first opened in 1968. Named after New Hope Ministries, this building housed the very first 24-hour suicide prevention hotline (714-NEW-HOPE), which today continues under the auspices of Catholic Charities of Orange County. 

The Tower of Hope has undergone a $7.8-million renovation and seismic upgrade and houses the offices of the Christ Cathedral Parish (formerly St. Callistus Parish). EWTN Global Catholic Network has its West Coast television news and broadcast facility located here and the diocese houses its radio production facility, airing content over Relevant Radio across Orange County. 

The ninth floor of the tower houses executive office suites for other worldwide Catholic ministries, including the Magis Institute, Dynamic Catholic, and other leading organizations. 

Topped by a 90-foot neon-lit cross, the Tower of Hope was the tallest building in Orange County at its opening and held this distinction for over 10 years. On the top floor is the 130-seat ecumenical Chapel in the Sky, with breathtaking panoramic views of Orange County. 




The newly renovated Arboretum has served as home to the Christ Cathedral Parish until their move into Christ Cathedral. It offers Sunday Masses in four languages (English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Chinese) attended by more than 10,000 people each week. 

Because of the age and delicate state of the Arboretum, diocesan crews took it down to steel and dirt and conducted extensive renovations, including creation of an innovative and energy-efficient underground air conditioning system. Also completed were seismic strengthening, glass replacement, landscaping and other aesthetic renovations. Since every element was specifically designed by the original architect, the diocese studied archival records to ensure that every dimension and pane of glass matched original specifications. Completed in just six months, the Arboretum’s amazing renovation has won several awards. 


Christ Cathedral 


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. 

Standing 120 feet tall (12 stories), this 78,397-square-foot edifice is constructed entirely of glass and steel. With more than 11,000 panes of mirrored glass and seating for 2,100, the cathedral structure is known the world over for its inspiring beauty and breathtaking scale. 

Johnson Fain and Rios Clementi Hale Studios, respectively, redesigned the cathedral interior and re-sculpted the campus. The monumental task of converting an all-glass church into a space that is intrinsically Catholic and facilitates contemplative and solemn liturgical prayer, required inspired action that combined thoughtful accommodation for sacred ministry, while simultaneously honoring the property’s legacy. 

The renovated cathedral is the new home for the Christ Cathedral Parish (formerly St. Callistus Parish), an active Catholic church with over 10,000 diverse parishioners. 

“The cathedral will be an international center of faith and evangelization,” said Bishop Kevin Vann, “a vessel for the love of God, a beacon of faith, a home for neighbor and traveler, and a sanctuary for the human spirit.”