By Nicole Shine/Garden Grove Journal
The legacy of the former Crystal Cathedral will live on despite its new Roman Catholic owners, said the rector of what is now Christ Cathedral.
“This is a place where holiness and peace have been nourished,” the rector, Rev.Christopher Smith, said at the Garden Grove Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast held on Nov 15.
Christ Cathedral, located at Chapman Avenue and Lewis Street in Garden Grove, is a place that almost 1,000 area Catholics will call their spiritual home.
It’s also a place bedeviled by lawsuits over its cemetery and financial dealings, and one plagued by concerns about the fate of its famous sanctuary.
Addressing a crowd of nearly 200 in the Community Meeting Center, Smith outlined the church’s plans. Many changes will be invisible to onlookers, with the cemetery and all building exteriors remaining untouched.
Inside, the cathedral will see the addition of religious elements like a bishop’s chair, an altar, confessionals and stations of the cross. Offices for the diocese and elementary school buildings also will undergo interior remodels.
Renovations began this summer and are expected to take a year. September 2013 is the anticipated move date for the diocese.
In describing the plans, Smith, who grew up in Orange, recounted fond childhood memories of Rev. Robert H. Schuller. Smith, then 6, remembered seeing Schuller perched on the roof of the snack-bar at the old Orange Drive-In Theatre, where he ministered to his car-bound congregation.
“I was amazed to see people going to church in a car,” Smith reminisced. “This is a memory I now cherish. Schuller touched the lives of millions.”
Now more than 50 years later, Smith feels the gravity of taking over Schuller’s former cathedral, where he is second only to Bishop Tod D. Brown.
“I’ve been trusted to shepherd this campus to its new future,” Smith said.
Echoing his sentiments, Mayor William Dalton said the cathedral has had a storied past, but it’s time to start anew.
“We all believe,” Dalton said. “We may go to different churches, but we pray to the same God.”
The breakfast was the mayor’s last, and one he called bittersweet. His term ends next month.
The rest of the Garden Grove council attended, as did the new mayor of Orange, Theresa Smith, who is Rev. Smith’s sister.