First founded as St. Callistus Parish in 1964, the parish community moved in 2013 to the campus of Christ Cathedral. From an initial 700 families, Christ Cathedral Parish has grown to include more than 4,500 families. We welcome new individuals and families to worship with us.
Then Bishop Kevin Vann led clergy, parishioners and staff in a procession to their new home. There, close to 5,000 St. Callistus parishioners attended the tri-lingual outdoor Mass, the first Eucharist celebration at their new home. The Mass was in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese, allowing all to participate. The St. Callistus choir sang; St. Callistus liturgical dancers opened the Mass, and the entrance hymn was “St. Callistus Gentle Shepherd.”
“This is a joyful, historic day,” said Bishop Kevin Vann at the start of Mass. “Es un día de fe y celebración y de peregrinación también [It is a day of faith and celebration, and pilgrimage too].”
Father Juan Navarro of St. Callistus said, “We weren’t looking for a new beginning. Suddenly, we were called,” he said of the move across town. “It’s a way to reflect how we will serve better.”
Father Tuyen Nguyen, pastor of St. Callistus Church and now Vice-Rector of the Cathedral, has served the parish and congregation for ten years. “It was naturally sad when we left the old church, but [as] a people of faith, we are aware of the call to go forward in faith because we have ancestors and people in the Bible who made faithful journeys before us,” Father Nguyen says. “We are answering the call of the Lord to come to a new place.” “This is a gift from God,” he said.
With more than 1.3 million Catholics in Orange County, the Parish hopes to welcome more new members. Still, the transition hasn’t been easy. The Rector and Episcopal Vicar of Christ Cathedral, Father Christopher Smith, describes the transition as more than a simple move to a new building. It is, he says, “a very complex and challenging process.”
“As St. Callistus Parish, the community’s radius of care was largely focused on those either registered or living within the territorial boundaries of the parish,” says Father Smith. “As Christ Cathedral, the parish’s radius of care is greatly broadened because, as the bishop’s church, its celebrations and events regularly include participants from the larger Diocese of Orange and beyond. This new role is a challenge. It is also a profound privilege.”
“From this day forward, [this is] our spiritual home. We will become the mother church of Orange.”
—Father Christopher Smith, Rector and Episcopal Vicar, Christ Cathedral.
Vann and Father Smith reminded parishioners to look ahead, to open their hearts and their minds to the newness of their situation.
“We as a community, we as a church, are being called to be something new and great in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” said Father Smith.
June 30, 2013
The Protestant Crystal Cathedral congregation, now known as Shepherd’s Grove, moved to the rented former St. Callistus site. As part of the relationship of mutual respect and cooperation between the churches, on June 30, 2013, pastors and members of Crystal Cathedral Ministries gathered for a reception to address the move and to bless each other.
Those in attendance included: John Charles, CEO of Crystal Cathedral Ministries; Ed Arnold, the voice of “The Hour of Power;” Bobby Schuller, grandson of Crystal Cathedral founder Dr. Robert H. Schuller and pastor of Shepherd’s Grove; Father Smith; Father Nguyen; Father Tran; Sister Katherine ‘Kit’ Gray, CSJ, Director of Mission Integration and Ongoing Formation at the future Christ Cathedral; and Tita Smith, executive director of Catholic Charities of Orange County.
“We gather as people sharing faith in Jesus Christ,” said Father Smith. “We are going to give a witness to the love of God the world has never seen before.”
Arboretum and Christ Cathedral
The Christ Cathedral Parish has its temporary home in the Arboretum, a light-filled sanctuary designed by famous modernist architect Richard Neutra. The Christ Catholic Cathedral Corporation and renovation committee received an award of Merit from Docomomo for the careful renovation of Neutra’s building. Masses for the Parish are held in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese. The parish, once Christ Cathedral’s architectural and Catholic liturgical alterations are finished in 2017, have a new cathedral and home.
The number of Saturday to Sunday Masses accommodates the attendance of the English, Spanish, and Vietnamese-speaking community and now number eleven. The number and focus of parish ministries is over twenty, including faith formation for all ages, sacramental preparation, bereavement, and liturgical ministry. The members of Christian Service Ministry distribute food weekly, organize the Thanksgiving Brunch for the poor, and organize a Christmas food and toy distribution program supported by the entire parish. The Parish has developed and maintained a variety of traditions that express and bring the community together: the Parish Festival, Pennies from Heaven, Summer Backyard Theology, Blessing of Easter baskets, Thanksgiving Brunch, Our Lady of Guadalupe Novena, celebrations for the Lunar New Year, and the Lenten Fish Fry.
The parishioners look forward with joy to moving into the Christ Cathedral sanctuary which will hold up to 2,200 worshippers, and look forward to their place in the future of the Christ Cathedral and the Diocese of Orange.
“We are moving forward to show the world that we are the parishioners of the Mother Church, and the bishop is our pastor. The congregation is very vibrant and rich in many ethnicities. We are expected to show the world how Catholics live their faith. We are blessed to worship in a place that celebrates our diversity and welcomes people of all races and ethnic backgrounds to worship the Lord together. The Cathedral parish truly reflects the diversity and faith of Orange County.”
— Father Nguyen, Vice-Rector, Christ Cathedral.
Traditions that annually bring the community together include the Parish Festival, Pennies from Heaven, Summer Backyard Theology, Blessing of Easter baskets, Thanksgiving Brunch, Our Lady of Guadalupe Novena, celebrations for the Lunar New Year, and the Lenten Fish Fry.
Mass is celebrated in the Arboretum, located on the south east side of Christ Cathedral campus, off Lewis Street. The Cathedral is currently closed for renovation and is estimated to open again in 2017.
A SPACE WORTHY OF THE LORD
As a campus with a unique architectural heritage and facilities and grounds that are unlike any other cathedral in the United States, we are committed to maintaining a space worthy of the Lord.
As stewards of this space, we are investing the resources to maintain the beauty of the buildings and landscape. Consistent with the Lord’s constant invitation to his people, the campus is safe, accessible and user friendly. For the believer and non-believer alike, it combines awe-inspiring architecture that gives a glimpse of the divine with a familiarity that feels like home.
PROFOUND CHRISTIAN HOSPITALITY
As a campus that is centrally located in the Diocese of Orange and is a destination for Catholics as well as tourists and pilgrims, we will exhibit radical Christian hospitality to all we encounter.
This includes all visitors to the Cathedral campus, parish, school, diocesan offices, executive suites and cemetery. Among other visitors are relatives and friends coming from venues in close proximity to the campus including UCI Medical Center, the juvenile detention center, the Orange County Family Court. Visitors also come from the Shepherd’s Grove (former occupants of the campus), surrounding neighborhoods, nearby office buildings, the Block of Orange Mall and neighboring hotels. Visitors are also from outside groups who hold special events on the campus. One of the ways all will experience the love of Christ is through the love and hospitality they experience from the members of the Christ Cathedral Campus community.
A MODEL OF CHURCH
UNITY + EXCELLENCE
As the seat of the Bishop of the Diocese of Orange and the home of the diocesan offices, we will be a model of Church unity and excellence in all that we do.
In our worship and the celebration of sacraments, in our education and formation, in our service and outreach to the poor and marginalized, in our relationships with the city, county and larger community, in our governance and administration and in all of our events and activities, we will seek a level of excellence that can serve as a witness and example to other faith communities. We will seek to raise the bar to a level worthy of the Good News of Jesus Christ, and in so doing, we hope to inspire others to do the same.
Christ Cathedral Campus is aligned in all of its ministry and activities with the Diocese of Orange, the Universal Roman Catholic Church, and ultimately the mission and vision of Jesus Christ.