By Hillary Senour
During the ordination of several new priests, Bishop Tod D. Brown of the Diocese of Orange announced the new name for the recently acquired Crystal Cathedral and the priest who will oversee the transition.
“I discerned that the diocese needed someone to head the transition effort full-time and I knew that it needed to be one of our most talented and accomplished priests,” Bishop Brown said.
Bishop Brown was “pleased to announce” that Father Christopher H. Smith accepted the “vital responsibility” of overseeing the transition from the evangelical worship space to a Catholic cathedral.
Fr. Smith, who is a California native and has served as a priest in the Diocese of Orange for over 34 years, will take his place as Cathedral Vicar on July 2.
“I never imagined that someday this magnificent structure would be part of our diocese and would eventually serve as the primary Catholic Church for the region,” Fr. Smith said June 9.
The diocese obtained the 3,000 seat glass church in February, but the occupancy and use of the property as a Catholic church will “not be immediate.” Instead, the Orange diocese said in a June 9 statement that it has started a “gradual transition process.”
“While I consider it a tremendous grace that our Diocese was able to acquire this wonderful facility,” Bishop Brown said, “the transition to making it our own will take a tremendous amount of effort and talent.”
Along with a tabernacle, a central altar and a baptismal font, the church will also need a “cathedra,” or bishop’s chair, before it can be used as a Catholic cathedral.
At the end of Saturday’s Ordination Mass, Bishop Brown announced that the church will be renamed Christ Cathedral as part of its transformation.
The name, he said, is “a clear proclamation of why this Church exists and will be of continuing importance to people of faith across the region.”
The formal process for the naming of a Catholic Church, calls for the proposed name to be submitted to the Vatican’s Congregation of Bishops, which is responsible for all matters pertaining to bishops and their churches.
On April 26, Bishop Brown received news that the Vatican approved the name Christ Cathedral.
Founded by pastor Robert H. Schuller, Crystal Cathedral filed for bankruptcy in October of 2010 when some of its creditors sued for payment.
The Diocese of Orange purchased the property for $57.5 million, rather than build a new cathedral, which was already in early planning stages.
As part of the sale agreement with the Diocese of Orange, the Crystal Cathedral’s congregation will move to what is currently St. Callistus Catholic Church in June 2013.