(November 17, 2011) --- The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, now ranked tenth in Catholic population in the nation, has been awarded the opportunity to purchase the Crystal Cathedral. The iconic Philip Johnson designed structure and its adjacent 30.9 acre campus and buildings located in Garden Grove, CA have been the subject of complicated bankruptcy proceedings brought by creditors and others against Crystal Cathedral Ministries (CCM).
The decision announced today by U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert N. Kwan confirmed the selection of the Diocese by the CCM board of directors as the preferred buyer. The CCM Board determined the terms of the monetary and non-monetary Diocesan offer more acceptable to a competing proposal by Chapman University.
While the court has validated the award, occupancy by the Diocese of the campus and use of the church will not be immediate. Under the terms of the agreement, CCM may continue to use the church and other campus structures for a period of up to three years. During the same period a diocesan pastoral center will be established on the Garden Grove campus and nearby parish school and church eventually transferred to the new location.
The initial decision to bid on the Crystal Cathedral Ministries property surfaced as an alternative to existing diocesan plans to design and build a new Catholic cathedral to serve the present and anticipated needs of the growing Diocese of Orange.
Encouraged by a panel of lay advisors and other experts, the Diocese began the bid process with the intention of acquiring a suitable worship space and administrative campus for less overall cost than original construction would demand and be available over a shorter time period.
Bishop Tod D. Brown also expressed his personal concern over the possibility of the Crystal Cathedral church being re-developed for other than worship use. Indeed, its continued use as a place of worship was prominent in the CCM's decision to select the diocese as the preferred buyer.
While critical design upgrades will be required before the church can be used as a Catholic Cathedral, today's court award accomplishes the original diocesan goals, maintains the Crystal Cathedral itself as a place of worship, and underscores the vital relationship between the Catholic laity and clergy here in Orange County.
"We sincerely regret the difficult circumstances Dr. Schuller and his ministry have encountered. Those challenges have now enabled the Diocese of Orange to protect this wonderful structure as a place of worship and will soon provide our Catholic community with a new cathedral, pastoral center, parish school and more. Despite these wonderful results, we are nonetheless saddened by the events that led us to today's award and offer our respect to Dr. Schuller and his ministry," said Bishop Tod D. Brown.
As Bishop Brown has said many times during this process, the Diocese would not have been able to capably bid and then compete for this property without the invaluable counsel and contributions of many within its lay community. "Today's wonderful news clearly validates that our church is of the people and the clergy - it is a shared joy that we have today. And I am grateful to have been a part of this effort," Bishop Brown concluded.