Christ Cathedral, Formerly Crystal Cathedral, to Unveil Virtual Tour of $72 Million Renovation

Christ Cathedral, formerly known as Crystal Cathedral. Since 2012, the Cathedral has been in possession of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange.
Christ Cathedral, formerly known as Crystal Cathedral. Since 2012, the Cathedral has been in possession of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange. | (Photo courtesy Diocese of Orange)

What will the 35-acre campus of Christ Cathedral look like after its redesign is complete? The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, which bought the structure, formerly known as the Crystal Cathedral, in 2012, is unveiling a virtual preview of the multimillion-dollar renovation for the public on Sunday.

As the diocese celebrates its 40th anniversary Sunday in an event to be attended by about 10,000 Catholic faithfuls, it will offer a virtual tour of the $72 million renovation of the glass sanctuary in Garden Grove in California which was originally built by the Rev. Robert H. Schuller.

The preview will include a sanctuary splashed in white, highlighting an altar, the bishop's chair and baptismal font, according to Los Angeles Times, which said the new space will have nearly 3,000 seats, with pews arranged in a radial pattern and featuring a circular shaped Blessed Sacrament Chapel, bearing a portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

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"The great cathedrals of Europe took generations to complete," Bishop Kevin Vann was quoted as saying. "We do not have the time luxury of former cathedral builders. Our goal is to dedicate Christ Cathedral by 2019."

The redesign plan was made with input from priests, lay people and experts.

Over the last four years, the diocese has raised about $39 million through its For Christ Forever campaign for the renovation work, and plans to collect $21 million more during the next two to five years, Cindy Bobruk, who heads the Orange Catholic Foundation, was quoted as saying.

The diocese, which started with about 330,000 Catholics, has grown to include 1.3 million members, 62 parishes or churches, 41 schools, three hospitals and care centers and a number of agencies serving the poor, according to The Orange County Register. The diocese is the 12th-largest Catholic community in the world.

"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 Vann said earlier. "It will be a holy place, where God dwells among us."

In 2013, the Crystal Cathedral Ministries congregation announced it was 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."

The ministry filed for bankruptcy in October 2010 and in February 2012 sold the iconic building and its adjacent campus to the Catholic diocese. Schuller and his wife, Arvella, founded Crystal Cathedral Ministries in 1955, which had grown to be one of the largest Christian ministries in California.

Schuller founded the megachurch with a $500 loan, and the construction of the Crystal Cathedral, which included the main sanctuary designed by architect Phillip Johnson, was completed in 1980 and cost $18 million.

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