Christ Cathedral's $113 Million Redesign to Include Illuminated Sanctuary, Host Up to 8,000 at Mass

The redesign of Christ Cathedral by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, which is set to cost close to $113 million, will feature an illuminated sanctuary and host up to 8,000 people during outdoor mass, new plans revealed.

"Through this innovative design process, an insightful plan has emerged that will establish Christ Cathedral as a place for involvement in the sacraments, a place to hear the word of God proclaimed and a place for personal prayer and devotion," Bishop Kevin Vann of Orange said earlier this week. "It will be a holy place, where God dwells among us."

The Orange County Register reported that the goal is to turn the 35-acre campus, the site of Rev. Robert Schuller's former Crystal Cathedral, into a center of Catholic life 'that blends both traditional design elements and modern architecture.'

The restoration project will also include panels that shade the glass cathedral and a recreational lawn which will be able to host between 6,000 to 8,000 people for mass. Schuller will be honored by a statuary enclosed by a wall composed of replicas of the 1,800 memorial stones of the Walk of Faith from the protestant pastor's era.

The Catholic diocese, which purchased the building in February 2012, has allocated $53 million to those specific projects, including $29 million for the cathedral, with the first phase expected to be complete by early 2017. It is hoping to raise another $60 million for further improvements.

A unique feature in the design is that from outside, the building will look like a glass cathedral, but from inside, people will only see slivers of light, and not a full view of the world outside - with the idea that they can keep focused on the altar.

The National Catholic Register reported that the 120-foot tall building covers an area of 78,397 square feet, and has a seating capacity of more than 2,000 people. The new design will work to support the centrality of the Eucharist and provide a "solemn and prayerful experience."

A central role will also be played by the Hazel Wright Organ, the fourth-largest church organ in the world.

"A cathedral, such as the Christ Cathedral when completed, lifts the mind, heart and soul of believers — and perhaps even others — to the love of God and the hope that God has promised," said Msgr. Christopher Smith, Christ Cathedral's rector.

Smith added that the design aims to build "a deeper unity of purpose and mission among Catholics within our local Church" in addition to "a renewed commitment to permeating the world with the love of Christ."

Last year the Crystal Cathedral Ministries congregation announced it is moving into a new church home, which left some members with mixed feelings.

"Our new church home will be known as Shepherd's Grove," John Charles, president and CEO of Crystal Cathedral Ministries, told The Christian Post at the time. "As you can well imagine, the congregation does have some sadness in leaving this beautiful facility but realizes that the church is more that just a building. We are a community of believers and committed to bringing the message of hope and healing to the world."