By Esther Ro/Garden Grove Journal/with wire service reports
Two Garden Grove churches held epic observances this weekend, as congregations said goodbye to their familiar locations in preparation for a switch.
Saturday was a momentous day for St. Callistus Catholic Church in Garden Grove; Sunday’s event was a fond farewell to the Crystal Cathedral by its departing Protestant congregations.
“Today, we, the parishioners of St. Callistus, are the chosen people to cross the Red Sea to the Promised Land,” said Father Tuyen Van Nguyen, referring to the Garden Grove Freeway and Christ Cathedral.
At 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, the ethnically diverse members of St. Callistus, dressed in traditional Vietnamese ao dai, Mexican ponchos or other formal attire, gathered to bid farewell. The church was filled beyond maximum capacity as dozens of attendees, unable to find an available seat, stood around the perimeter of the room.
Liturgical dances were performed, prayers were said, songs were sung and tears were shed.
Despite the joys of moving into a larger campus to accommodate their ever-growing congregation, many members of the church were overcome with sadness at leaving St. Callistus, a place where they celebrated baptisms, marriages and quinceañeras, mourned and remembered loved ones in funerals and took various religious vows
“This is life,” said Sister Katherine Gray, Director of Mission Integration at Christ Cathedral. “We let go of one thing to embrace another. This place holds a lot of memories, and we are here to celebrate those memories and look forward to making many more.”
The ceremony ended with an excursion around the campus. Over 1,000 people followed a Procession Cross to every building from the chapel to the parish office to the school classrooms.
A motorcade of over 200 cars adorned with yellow ribbons followed the closing rituals as church members made their exodus in 21st century fashion north along Lewis Street to Christ Cathedral for the welcoming Mass at 4 p.m.
This first Mass was celebrated in the plaza outside the famous glass structure and led by Bishop Kevin W. Vann.
According to the Diocese of Orange, Mass cannot be celebrated in the building until “architectural renovations and liturgical alterations are made,” which are expected to be complete in 2015.
St. Callistus members await their official move with anticipation as the first Sunday Mass at Christ Cathedral will be held this coming weekend on July 7.
“I’m looking forward to [the move],” said Darlene La Combe, a St. Callistus parishioner who serves on the Year of Faith Committee. “We’ve outgrown the space, and we’ve definitely outgrown the parking lot! We’re moving onto bigger and better things.”
St. Callistus’ first service at the new location coincidentally fell on the same day as the Feast of Saints Paul and Peter, a significant liturgical holiday honoring the two saints’ martyrdom.
“Like Peter and Paul, we have been called to live out our faith and love God. We love this place, but God has given us a higher calling to move to Christ Cathedral,” said Nguyen.
Crystal Cathedral Ministries held its final service on Sunday and will be moving into St. Callistus, soon-to-be-renamed Shepherd’s Grove, this weekend.
Pastor Bobby Schuller, grandson of founder Robert H. Schuller, told his flock that Crystal Cathedral Ministries will make new memories at its new home
After a prolonged period of financial struggles, the Crystal Cathedral property was sold to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange for $57.5 million in bankruptcy court. Others made grander offers, but this transaction guaranteed that the facilities would continue to be used as places of worship as originally intended.
St. Callistus members hope to carry over the memories made in the past 50 years to their new home and continue growing their ministry as they undergo this transition.