Christ Cathedral



By Karen Meeks     6/1/2017

There is no summer hiatus when it comes to faith. From workshops and youth retreats to construction work at Christ Cathedral, the Diocese of Orange will be bustling with events and improvements throughout the summer.

The biggest thing happening this summer will be the $72 million renovation of Christ Cathedral, the Garden Grove sanctuary formerly known as Crystal Cathedral.

Window refurbishments are completed and construction is set to begin this summer.

Plans to improve the cathedral began in 2013 and have gone through several iterations because of the uniqueness and magnitude of the project, said Fr. Christopher Smith, rector and Episcopal vicar of Christ Cathedral.

This past year, officials finalized plans for the cathedral, which included many elements of what was initially conceptualized.

The design features a raised platform called a predella, which will extend out almost to the center of the building. On the predella will be the altar, the focal point of the cathedral, Smith said.

The seating will be radial, with pews in a fanlike configuration facing the altar, while the bishop’s chair, the cathedra, will have a prominent place at the north end of the predella.

The ambo will be elevated and located on the east side of the predella, and there will be a hanging baldachin, a kind of canopy from which a crucifix will hang directly over the altar, Smith said.

There will be an interior stone wall around the perimeter of the worship floor.

The design also features quatrefoils, petal-like structures that will hang from the space frame, with various degrees of aperture to control the sunlight. They will also serve to help in the acoustics of the space, the air-conditioning and the lighting of the cathedral, Smith said.

“The renovated cathedral will be beautiful, and will serve the liturgical functions of a cathedral,” Smith said.

Construction is expected to be completed within two years and will include the reinstallation of the Hazel Wright Memorial Organ, which had been sent to Italy to be repaired.

Fr. Smith said he hopes to dedicate the cathedral by mid 2019.

The new and improved cathedral will be large enough to accommodate most of the diocesan celebrations as well as serve the growing cathedral parish, Fr. Smith said, adding that such a space does not exist now.

“The fact that we will be have a place to gather and celebrate major occasions will serve to build the unity of the diocese,” he said. “The magnificence of the building paired with the beautiful liturgies that will be celebrated there will serve to lift minds and hearts to God.”

Meanwhile, the Orange County diocese has several summer events for children, teens and adults that are geared toward strengthening one’s faith and community.

Major events include:

  • Ÿ Christ Cathedral will host a Memorial Day Prayer Service on May 29. The prayer service will begin at 11 a.m. in the Arboretum, followed by a noon tribute in the Cathedral Memorial Gardens. The event will include prayer, music, the release of 100 doves, a gun salute and a patriotic carillon recital. Visit for more.
  • Ÿ Authors Kathleen Beckman and Pia de Soleni will be part of a panel that will discuss Beckman’s book, “When Women Pray,” on July 20. The event, which is the second installment of the Orange County Catholic Book Club Author Focus Series, will take place from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Freed Theater at Christ Cathedral. Admission is $20, or free if a book club member. Visit for more.
  • Ÿ The Youth & Young Adult Ministry will host a weekend retreat called Breathe from June 23-25 at the Santiago Retreat Center in Silverado. Contact 714-282-3061, or email [email protected] for more.
  • Ÿ Catholic Charities of Orange County will present Camp ReCreation, a volunteer camp to help the developmentally disabled. The children’s volunteer camp will be from July 7-10 at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa. The adults’ volunteer camp will be from Aug. 3-6 at Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse in Orange. Visit
  • Ÿ All for God will host its first Catholic conference for teens called Steubenville OC from July 7-9 at UC Irvine. The weekend will feature speakers, music, mass, prayer and fellowship. Visit for more.
  • Ÿ Go on a Catholic Cruise with diocese bishops. The July 21-24 cruise from Long Beach to Ensenada, Mexico, will feature music by Francis Cabildo and Director of Christ Cathedral Music Ministries Dr. John Romeri, and Mass with Bishop Vann and Bishop Freyer at the Cathedral in Ensenada, Santuario. Day-trip options include a service project at a local orphanage. Call 714-538-0010, or visit


Visit for more events around the diocese.