The Orange Catholic Foundation’s ongoing Capital Campaign is helping the Diocese in so many ways.

By Larry Irish     10/4/2018

Like all religions, Catholicism is rooted in faith. However, the Church cannot operate on faith alone. Catholics are encouraged to give their gifts of time, talent and treasure.  

The Bible makes it clear that contributing to the Church should be a joyful practice: “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)  

This of course applies to the Diocese of Orange, which can’t serve the county’s 1.6 million Catholics on faith alone. Maintaining a vibrant, financially stable organization that does so much for so many doesn’t come cheap. 

The Diocese’s first Capital Campaign was announced in September of 2012 with a lofty goal of $100 million. The funds raised thus far have been used – and will continue to be used – for five key priorities: the Christ Cathedral Campus renovation, Catholic education, a multitude of projects by individual parishes, and an endowment for retired priests. It also funded one year of the Pastoral Services Appeal or PSA in 2013.  

“Each and every Catholic in Orange County benefits from the Campaign,” says Cindy Bobruk, executive director and president of the Orange Catholic Foundation, which raises funds and provides fundraising and stewardship education resources for the Diocese. “It’s our first-ever campaign, designed to support our faith and our future. It’s a place to honor Christ forever.” 

“For Christ Forever,” the Campaign’s theme, was clearly taken to heart by those who’ve given to the fundraising effort. Thus far, $127 million has been raised, already exceeding the $100 million goal. Of that, 96 percent has come from an estimated 28,000 families and individuals who live in our diocese, only 4 percent from local corporate or business donors.  

The majority of the $127 million raised, $102 million, has been given to the Orange Catholic Foundation in the form of cash or other assets. A little more than $23 million remain as pledges to be fulfilled, the remaining $2 million as testamentary gifts.  

The $84 million in campaign grants made to date breaks down as follows: 

  • $52 million for Christ Cathedral: $21 million for six buildings and down payment and $31 million to renovate the Cathedral itself
  • $14.3 million for Catholic education: $5.8 million for the endowment to support tuition assistance for the Catholic elementary schools; and $8.5 million to help low-income students with tuition assistance and to fund building and technology improvements in the Diocese’s poorest (and usually oldest) schools
  • $11.6 million shared with the Diocese’s 62 parishes and centers for their own projects: building renovations, new construction, parish endowments, support for specific parish programs and ministries, and the like
  • $1 million to create an endowment to assist retired priests with housing and emergency needs
  • $6.2 million to fund one year of the Pastoral Services Appeal’s ministries and services

The Campaign actually began prior to any discussion of acquiring the former Crystal Cathedral. The original focus was on building a new cathedral in the Santa Ana/South Coast Metro area. When Diocesan leaders and prominent businesspeople learned about Crystal Cathedral’s bankruptcy, they determined that purchasing the 35 acre campus in Garden Grove would be the better option. “It’s a unique location in the center of Orange County,” Bobruk says. “Many other cathedrals throughout the U.S. are in urban locales, and they don’t have nearly as much land. They usually don’t have an elementary school, or sufficient land and buildings to house the diocesan pastoral and ministry offices on the same campus,” she says. “Christ Cathedral is also unique in that it is home to a vibrant multicultural parish serving thousands of families and offering 12 Masses on the weekend. The Cathedral itself is believed to be the first Protestant Church to be converted to a Catholic place of worship.” 

The $52 million granted as of June 30 by the Orange Catholic Foundation for the Christ Cathedral Campus renovation breaks down as follows: 

  • $2.1 million as down payment to purchase the campus in 2012
  • $19.1 million for the renovation of six of the campus buildings between 2012 and 2014, including the Tower of Hope, the Arboretum, large and small galleries, the Cathedral Cultural Center and the Diocesan Pastoral Center, as well as improvements to landscaping and site work.
  • $31 million to transform the former Crystal Cathedral to the Christ Cathedral: renovation of the worship level and undercroft, restoration of the Hazel Wright Organ and some 11,000 windows, and a sacred art collection.

Christ Cathedral’s dedication is set for July 17, 2019. Under the leadership of our volunteer campaign co-chairs, Tim and Susan Strader, the foundation is still reaching out to donors to raise an additional $5,000,000 in new gifts to complete the transformation of the Cathedral and to fund the remaining sacred art items to be commemorated. 

The Bible says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Those who have helped make For Christ Forever so successful will surely receive so much more, now and in the years to come.