Let There Be Light

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Donors attend blessing of quatrefoils and tour Christ Cathedral as Bishop Vann delivers call to action to raise $5 million to complete For Christ Forever campaign
ATTENDEES WATCH AS THE QUATREFOILS ARE ILLUMINATED IN THE CHRIST CATHEDRAL AT DUSK DURING A SPECIAL DONORS-ONLY EVENT AT THE DIOCESE OF ORANGE. / PHOTO: CHALLENGE RODDIE

BY: GREG HARDESTY (ORANGE COUNTY CATHOLIC)
October 29, 2018

The clouds parted after the rains and the sun broke through, setting the stage for a spectacular dusk for the more than 500 guests assembled outside Christ Cathedral on Saturday, Oct. 13.
As if on cue, a rainbow appeared just as the Most Rev. Kevin W. Vann, Bishop of Orange, joined the pianist to play three tunes: “Getting to Know You,” “California, Here I Come” and, of course, “Over the Rainbow.”

Light into darkness, and darkness into light, were the perfect themes for the “First Lighting & Blessing of the Quatrefoils,” a key milestone in the $77 million renovation of the former Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove that began June 1, 2017. 

Christ Cathedral, purchased by the diocese in 2012 for $57.5 million, twinkled at dusk like the Milky Way when the switch was flipped to turn on the lights behind the quatrefoils – aluminum, triangular-shaped structures that improve the acoustics and temperature control in the interior of the cathedral.

More than 11,000 quatrefoils — none are believed to exist on any other building in the world, Church officials say – are fixed to the steel skeleton of the cathedral.

The triangles on each panel remain open to varying degrees (between 15 and 45) to let in light based on how the sun passes over the cathedral, the very Rev. Christopher Smith, rector and episcopal vicar at Christ Cathedral, said.

“Not only do they help with the acoustics and interior temperature,” Smith said, “but they’re also aesthetically beautiful.”

A handful of blessing ceremonies have been held during the transformation of the former Crystal Cathedral into Christ Cathedral. But the Oct. 13 event marked the first time that select members of the public – those who donated a minimum of $10,000 to the successful For Christ Forever Campaign, which is supporting the extensive remodeling of the church got a sneak peek inside to see the progress.

And it served as a chance for Bishop Vann to announce he’s making a second personal pledge toward the remaining $5 million needed to complete the For Christ Forever campaign.

Launched in 2013, the campaign so
far has raised more than $127 million from some 28,000 O.C. families, said Cindy Bobruk, executive director of the Orange Catholic Foundation, an autonomous foundation that works in collaboration with the diocese to raise money to support all aspect of the Catholic faith in
the diocese.

In addition to funding renovation of the cathedral, the campaign has pumped more than $14 million into Catholic education in Orange County, including new technology and an endowment, and $1 million to support a retirement fund for priests. In addition, more than $11 million has been sent back to parishes to use for their own needs.

The Oct. 13 event, hosted by the Orange Catholic Foundation, was held in the Christ Cathedral Cultural Center. After guests enjoyed farm-to-table hors d’oeuvres and close-up views of items to be installed in the cathedral, including pews and images of sacred art, they assembled in the courtyard outside the cultural center.

There, guests enjoyed a choral procession and performance of “Let There Be Light,” just as the quatrefoils were illuminated.

The moon, a sliver, was reflected in the cathedral’s glass exterior.

The liturgy of the Word, led by Bishop Vann followed.

The first reading, from 1 Peter 2:4-9, concerned the living stone and God’s spiritual house, and the chosen ones who are called by God out of darkness into light.

“All of you here have been an integral part of this journey,” Bishop Vann said in his homily. “We call for the Lord’s blessing…on what will be.”

Guests then toured the cathedral, in which the floor of white marble stonework from Italy is nearly completed. A stone wall that rings the interior of the church also in nearly finished.

As they entered, guests illuminated their mobile phones to create the appearance of lit candles, at Bishop Vann’s suggestion.

The Most Rev. Thanh Thai Nguyen, auxiliary bishop, excitedly took in the altar, still very much under construction.

Upon completion, a suspended baldachin – a ceremonial canopy of stone, metal, or fabric over an altar, throne, or doorway – will hover like a spirit over the altar.

Bishop Nguyen marveled at the size of the interior.

“When I say Mass,” he said, “I’ll be able to look out at and see everyone.”

He added, with a smile: “Except for the choir, which will be behind me.”

Christ Cathedral will be able to
accommodate more than 2,000 people in 44,000 square feet of worship space.

The focal point of O.C.’s more than 1.6 million Catholics, the cathedral is expected to be completed in late March 2019.

Dedicated is scheduled for July 17, 2019.

“This is, above all, God’s work,” Bishop Vann remarked.

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