(Photo: Reuters/Alex Gallardo)
The Orange County, Calif., megachurch known as the Crystal Cathedral has been given a new name by its Catholic owners. Bishop Tod Brown announced the cathedral's new name, Christ Cathedral, on Saturday during an Ordination Mass of four new Catholic priests at the St. Columban Catholic Church in Garden Grove.
At the ordination, the diocese also announced that Father Christopher H. Smith will serve in the cathedral's top post of Episcopal vicar.
"Today, I am honored to participate in the ordination of four new diocesan priests and congratulate them on the fulfillment of their vocation. I am equally pleased to acknowledge a senior member of our clerical staff – Fr. Christopher H. Smith – and to announce his appointment as the first Episcopal Vicar to our new Cathedral, which will be called Christ Cathedral, a clear proclamation of why this Church exists and will be of continuing importance to people of faith across the region," Bishop Brown said on Saturday, according to the diocese website.
Saturday's ordination was attended by over 1,500 parishioners and during the ceremony Bishop Brown also paid respect to the Rev. Robert H. Schuller, who had founded the Crystal Cathedral Ministries over five decades ago at a drive-in movie theater.
"We hold Rev. Schuller and his ministry in the highest esteem. It was important that any change of name for the cathedral itself be respectful of its spiritual legacy while accommodating our needs to clearly define this important facility as a Catholic center of worship," he said.
Crystal Cathedral Ministries filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October 2010 and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange purchased the iconic glass building earlier this year on a bankruptcy court's order for $57 million.
Following the purchase of the building in February, the diocese reached out to worshipers asking them to submit suggestions for a new name through its website.
"It is our goal to make the new cathedral a gathering place for Catholics and other people of faith. By asking for naming suggestions we begin the process of connecting this wonderful structure and its future to our faith and the larger community," the diocese said in a statement.
Thousands of worshipers submitted suggestions and Bishop Tod Brown chose the new name Christ Cathedral, which has been given Vatican approval.
Beyond changing the name of the building, the diocese also has plans to change the design of the cathedral to make it fitting for catholic worshipers.
Crystal Cathedral Ministries is now under the direction of President and CEO John Charles and pays $100,000 in monthly rent to the Catholic Church to stay in the famed glass building, but just last week it announced that the ministry would be moving in June 2013.
Under an agreement with the diocese the ministry will move to the nearby Catholic St. Callistus Church and will have free rent at the church through January 2014.
Charles said that the move will be significant to the overall renewal of the ministry.
"This is another important step in the revival that has been taking place at the Crystal Cathedral," Charles said in a statement to Reuters.