Christ Cathedral is rising anew, as a beacon of faith for the Church, the community, and the world at large. But we need your help. Gift a light today in the name of a friend or family member and become a part of our living legacy.Donate a heavenly light today
Embracing the future of Christ Cathedral begins with honoring its remarkable past. Explore the journey that led from a singular vision of a sanctuary for the faithful, to a beacon of light unrivaled in the world. Then, Gift a Light and help us prepare Christ Cathedral for generations to come.
The year was 1955. Perched atop the snack bar of the Orange Drive-In Theater, a young man called Christians to worship with little more than the power of his voice and knowledge of scripture. Though the form was unconventional the Reverend Robert Schuller’s drive-in congregation thrived, eventually becoming 1,400 seat community church. But even that impressive structure was soon outpaced by the growth of the congregation.
And so it was that Reverend Schuller envisioned a new home for his congregation. A place of worship to not only accommodate the faithful physically but uplift and inspire the community spiritually. When you’ve worshiped in a drive-in as long as I have,” he said, “you’ll come to the conclusion that a roof that comes between your eyeballs and the infinity of space limits your capacity for creative imagination.”
For decades, the Crystal Cathedral stood as a landmark and worldwide center of worship: the largest glass structure in the world comprised of 11,236 glass panels. After filing for bankruptcy, the ministry in 2013 sold the building and adjacent campus to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange for its new cathedral. The building now is being renovated to accommodate the Catholic liturgy, formally renamed Christ Cathedral and re-established to serve as the new seat of the Diocese of Orange.
Diocesan leaders purchased the former Crystal Cathedral for the same reasons that Reverend Schuller first built it: Having outgrown existing space, the Diocese is overdue for a size appropriate cathedral. When the Diocese’s bid was accepted, Dr. and Mrs. Schuller urged Orange County Catholics to “steward this campus [to] keep it a light in Orange County that will never go out.” That light continues to shine just as the Schullers desired, as Christ Cathedral undergoes an innovative transformation, thanks to our generous donors, and a respected team of architects, builders and staff dedicated to honoring the site’s legacy.
The Diocese of Orange is humbled to announce a vision for transforming the former Crystal Cathedral into an intrinsically Catholic space, where our 12,000-strong and growing parish along with pilgrims from around the globe can fully participate in the sacraments, hear the Word of God proclaimed, and engage in personal prayer and devotion. That’s why your gift is so crucial during this transformative period.
As our rector, the Reverend Christopher Smith, has observed, “A cathedral…lifts the mind, heart and soul of believers – and perhaps even others – to the love of God and the hope that God has promised. ”Our renewed commitment to permeating the world with the love of Christ begins with this extensive, two-phase renovation, slated for completion in 2018.
The focus of the first phase of renovation will be the cathedral’s sanctuary structure and the adjacent courtyard. The new design will support the centrality of the Eucharist, as well as the awe-inspiring Hazel Wright Organ, the fourth-largest church organ in the world.
The second phase will focus on expanding Christ Cathedral’s lower levels, the cemetery,
and redesigning the campus grounds to accommodate our growing parish and to create a solemn and prayerful experience throughout the sprawling campus.