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Diocese of Orange to Benefit From $20 Million Gift for the Renovation, Restoration and Transformation of the Iconic Christ Cathedral Campus

GARDEN GROVE, Calif., Dec. 3, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Upon acquiring the former Crystal Cathedral campus in 2012, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange began an ambitious multiphase renovation plan to bring the extensive campus and its seven buildings back to their former magnificence, while transforming the cathedral building itself into a center of Catholic worship and faith. A parallel goal beyond the physical rehabilitation and transformation of the campus has been to create a multifaceted community center that invites and inspires interfaith outreach, cultural expression and celebration of the arts. Over the next several years, this charitable gift will support the Diocese in achieving its transformative vision for the campus and in completing the extensive renovation plans unveiled for the cathedral and its 34-acre campus in September of 2014.

"I am profoundly grateful for the inspiration, faith and energy of the former Crystal Cathedral Ministries in creating this extraordinary campus in service to the mission of Christ and for the prayerful response and stewardship shown by the Catholic faithful, who have given sacrificially to help create a spiritual center for the people of Orange County," said The Most Rev. Kevin Vann, Bishop of Orange. "In acquiring and developing Christ Cathedral and its campus we have worked to create not only a needed center for our Church, but a true center of unity for our diverse and often disparate community here in Orange County. This needed gift will support this vision and assist in creating a place of welcome where all can celebrate, learn and know that they are loved by God."

The $20 million gift will be contributed over a multi-year pledge period to the Orange Catholic Foundation, a separate nonprofit charitable foundation that raises funds to benefit the mission of the Diocese of Orange. The gift will be used exclusively for the renovation of the Christ Cathedral campus. This important contribution is in addition to sacrificial gifts made by more than 24,000 parishioners and donors who pledged more than $85 million to the For Christ Forever capital campaign over the past two years. At the request of the donor, the gift will be dedicated exclusively to support the ambitious and expansive renovation of the Christ Cathedral and its grounds.

"This faith-filled donor has recognized the importance of the historic transformation underway on the Christ Cathedral campus and has stepped forward to help realize our vision of creating a true center of gravity within Orange County, a center that celebrates the most inspiring qualities of our community," said Tim Busch, co-chair of the capital campaign committee. "This gift represents another important step on our journey of faith at Christ Cathedral."

The donor, who has chosen to remain private, was not only inspired by the Diocese of Orange's stewardship of the cathedral property, but also by the Diocese's commitment to ecumenical outreach and to creating a true center of Orange County where faith, culture and the arts are celebrated by all. "I am blessed to offer my faithful and financial support to the Diocese's efforts to restore and renovate the campus and make its vision for the Christ Cathedral a reality," said the private donor. "I hope this gift will inspire other donors in our community to give as well."

As symbols of the unity for Catholics and those of other faith traditions alike, cathedrals have been central to communities around the globe for millennia and are at the core of Catholic worship. A cathedral is a diocese's "mother church" and at the apex of liturgical life. The Diocese of Orange is embarked upon an ambitious campaign to transform the historic Crystal Cathedral into the vibrant heart of the Diocese and Orange County more broadly, the unparalleled Christ Cathedral. While respecting the famous site's architects and legacy as a worldwide center of worship, Christ Cathedral promises to be an innovative transformation of a unique building and its surrounding grounds. The Diocese seeks to create a true center of gravity within Southern California, where all can celebrate their faith, art and culture and dedicate themselves to charitable outreach and interfaith engagement and dialogue. In the celebrated tradition of the cathedral as the center of community, this financial gift will help realize this vision here in Orange County, Calif.

"The oldest image of the Christian Church is the porta coeli, the gateway to heaven. A cathedral, such as 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 the Very Rev. Christopher Smith, Rector and Episcopal Vicar of Christ Cathedral. "This important gift will help realize our spiritual and temporal efforts to make the Christ Cathedral campus the true center of the Diocese of Orange and the broader community. These efforts are embodied within the recently announced design plans for the cathedral and campus and are aimed at building a deeper unity of purpose and mission among believers and a renewed commitment to permeating the world with the love of Christ."

About Christ Cathedral campus

In the late 1970s, legendary American architect Philip Johnson and his partner John Burgee presented their designs for an "all-glass church" to Rev. Robert Schuller. Upon seeing the plans, Rev. Schuller exclaimed, "Wow, it looks like a crystal cathedral!" The building was a massive undertaking, taking over two years to complete. Standing 120 feet tall (12 stories), 141 feet long and 207 feet wide, this 78,397-square-foot edifice is constructed entirely of glass and steel. With more than 10,000 panes of mirrored glass, the cathedral structure is known the world over for its inspiring beauty and breathtaking scale. The main sanctuary seats more than 2,000 people and will become a spiritual home to Orange County's more than 1.3 million Catholics. The cathedral has closed for an extensive renovation to remake the space as a place of Catholic worship and will reopen after its formal dedication in 2017.The Orange Catholic Foundation will continue fundraising efforts that will be necessary to support the ongoing renovation phases of the Christ Cathedral campus.

In September of 2014 the Diocese unveiled its plans for the renovation and transformation of the cathedral. The deepest and most significant aspects of the rich liturgical heritage and tradition of the Church are embodied in the new plans for Christ Cathedral and its campus. The two firms commissioned for this work call it the challenge of a lifetime. The monumental task of converting an all-glass church into a space that is endemically Catholic and facilitates contemplative and solemn prayer requires inspired action that combines thoughtful accommodation for sacred ministry with simultaneous honoring of the property's legacy.

Johnson Fain and Rios Clementi Hale Studies, respectively, will redesign the cathedral interior and re-sculpt the campus. Bishop Kevin Vann called the decision to hire both "inspired." "Their work is an invitation from the Lord himself to be part of something greater than we are," Bishop Vann said. "This will be here long after we are gone, remaining as a testament of faith that continues Rev. Schuller's vision and strengthens faith among Orange County Catholics."

As stewards entrusted with the world-renowned Philip Johnson-designed church and its grounds, Diocese architects aim to create a place of awesome beauty that celebrates God's magnificence. In the revitalized cathedral, the structure will be maintained and restored, with an antiphonal form. Three entries will be reconfigured as the Bishop's Door, Baptistery and Pilgrim's Entry to the east, and the spaces inside each entry will be distinctive.

At the center of the antiphonal form will be the altar, sitting atop the predella (a raised platform) and visible from all pews. A large metallic baldachin and carved crucifix will be suspended above the altar, with the Cathedra (Bishop's Chair) to the north and the ambo to the south. The mezzanine level will be reconfigured to support music in multiple configurations and the organ casework redesigned in opaque white glass and brushed stainless steel trim.

The cathedral's new stone floor and lower walls will recall the earth, while the glass vault overhead frames the heavens. The surface addresses acoustics, lighting, solar heat transmission and ventilation, as well as environmental comfort and visibility, said Scott Johnson, partner in Johnson Fain. To minimize heat and light from the glass walls and ceiling while maintaining the cathedral's striking beauty, the firm has designed an algorithmically complex series of quatrefoils made up of triangular metal sails in various stages of openness. By arranging open and closed "petals" on the inside surface based on the sun, natural light is modulated, glare is reduced and patterns will define the interior.

Below the sanctuary, the undercroft will include the Chapel of St. Callistus, the Bishops' Crypts and Columbarium, Bride's Room, Family Room, Choir Practice Room, Sacristies and support functions. Silver travertine paving will follow the stairway down from the entry level through the arched galleries and into the chapel.

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CONTACT: Ryan Lilyengren 714-282-3075 media@rcbo.orgSource:Diocese of Orange County