A new Catholic church will soon sprout from what was once one of Orange County’s last remaining parcels of undeveloped farmland.
Christ Our Savior Catholic Church and new parish buildings are expected to be dedicated in mid-2020 and will be located at Alton Avenue, Bear Street and MacArthur Boulevard in Santa Ana.
At a time when Catholic churches in the U.S. are closing and parishes merging, the Diocese of Orange continues to grow. The diocese’s most recent parish church, Holy Trinity in Ladera Ranch, was dedicated in November 2017.
When Christ Our Savior parish started in 2005, parishioners celebrated Mass in a multipurpose room at Jim Thorpe Fundamental Elementary School on Alton Avenue. Today, their home is a pair of portable modular buildings in the middle of a parking lot just a block away. Christ Our Savior will be the first church built in Santa Ana since Our Lady of La Vang was dedicated in 2006.
“We have been given a great gift,” said Christ Our Savior parishioner Lesa Truxaw, Director of Office for Worship at the Diocese of Orange. “It’s been exciting to see the growth and progression of our parish.”
The church signals a new era for the Christ Our Savior parish, considered among the fastest growing and most diverse parishes in the Diocese of Orange. Today, Christ Our Savior is home to about 1,700 registered families. Masses are celebrated in English, Spanish, Vietnamese and American Sign Language.
“A new church is needed to accommodate our growing congregation,” said Christ Our Savior Pastor Fr. Steve Correz. “There’s a lot of excitement here.”
His parish’s new home will be modern, welcoming and inclusive, diocesan officials said. A committee of Christ Our Savior parishioners provided input on the design of the church, which is being designed by San Diego-based domusstudio architecture.
The church’s interior is designed so worshippers can see easily sign language interpreters and video monitors. California sycamore, pink trumpet and olive trees will line outdoor walkways and plazas. An iconic 85-foot cross will reach into the sky.
“As a Catholic community we center around the church, so having a significant worship space is important,” said Rev. Steve Sallot, Vicar General for the Diocese of Orange. “The new Christ Our Savior Church will be a beautiful, welcoming place of worship, community and celebration.”
The land for Christ Our Savior was once a lima bean field as part of Armstrong Ranch. The parcel was the last piece of farmland in Santa Ana before being developed about 13 years ago. Buildings will sit on about 7.75 acres and include meeting rooms, a parish hall, offices and the 18,601-square foot church, which will have a seating capacity of 1,250.
The Diocese of Orange originally purchased the property for Christ Our Savior in 2002 from C.J. Segerstromg & Sons. Plans were submitted in 2004 to the City of Santa Ana to build a large cathedral at the site, along with parish and diocesan offices, according to city records. The location was chosen as the new cathedral because of its central location in Orange County and convenient freeway access.
But after the former Crystal Cathedral property was purchased in 2012 in Garden Grove, the diocese, working closely with the Segerstrom family and city of Santa Ana, rezoned a portion of the land for residential use and sold the 6.72-acre parcel of undeveloped land on MacArthur Boulevard to developer Shea Homes, which will build 42 homes and a park. The Segerstrom family approved the new development, seeing the need for the young Christ Our Savior parish community to have a home for its continued growth. The proceeds from the sale will finance construction of the new Christ Our Savior church. Construction is expected to begin by the end of the year, with a dedication expected in 2020.
“We’ve come a long way,” said Correz, adding that the vision for the church’s progress was implemented by the first Rector of Christ Our Savior, Msgr. J. Michael McKiernan. “Even though plans change, there was always a need for a new worship space for the parish. We just didn’t have any funds to do it.”
Christ Our Savior parishioners raised another $2 million in a capital campaign to assist in the project’s construction. Despite some initial disappoint that Christ Our Savior did not end up as the home of the diocese’s cathedral, news of the new church project has generated a sense of excitement and anticipation among parish members.
“The capital campaign is a signal that our parish supports this project and is committed to growing,” Truxaw said.