Last June 29, Bishop Kevin Vann declared the next 12 months as a Holy Year of Preparation leading up to the dedication of Christ Cathedral. The final three months will be particularly exciting as the Cathedral’s July 17 Dedication approaches. The Diocese’s Dedication Planning Committee, chaired by The Very Rev. Christopher Smith, has worked hard to prepare for the big day, along with a number of related events.
“Everyone on the committee has done a wonderful job,” says Fr. Christopher, episcopal vicar and rector of Christ Cathedral. “Their talents have made my work a lot easier overseeing it all.”
A Dedication Evening of Celebration will take place on July 13. The formal (black tie preferred) celebration event will include a reception in the North Cathedral Plaza, dinner in the South Plaza and a concert featuring Jackie Evancho and Chris Mann, performing with the Pacific Symphony Orchestra.
An invitation-only Solemn Evening Prayer and Vigil with Relics will take place in the Arboretum on July 16, beginning at 7 p.m. After the Evening Prayer (a ticketed event) the relics will be placed by the Cathedral’s front door. Participants will be seated in the plaza for the Extended Vigil. Representatives from the Diocese’s Korean, Vietnamese, Mexican and American Catholic communities will lead attendees in separate prayers. The Vigil is open to everyone.
The Dedication itself – the first Mass in the renovated Christ Cathedral – will take place on July 17, at 10:30 a.m. A ticketed event, “the Dedication will include an elaborate liturgy, plus the solemn handing over of the building to the Bishop, the ritual opening of the front doors and the blessing of the walls,” Fr. Christopher says. “The altar and the walls will be anointed as well.”
Diocese parishioners and ecumenical leaders from throughout Southern California will attend the Solemn Evening of Prayer and Thanksgiving. “This is a way to include others who weren’t at the dedication Mass the day before,” says Fr. Christopher. This ticketed event will take place on July 18, at 7 p.m.
A July 19 Youth and Young Adult event will be provided for teenagers in the morning and young adults in the evening. Event specifics haven’t been determined at this time.
“Christ Cathedral Parish, formerly St. Callistus Church, will have a special Mass on July 20, followed by dinner,” says Fr. Christopher. “The parish has been very involved in helping the campus come alive.”
In the coming year, the Diocese will host special Mass and Meal events for parishes in their respective deaneries. They will come to celebrate Mass with their own pastor and choir.
Beginning April 13, the Cathedral Cultural Center will host “Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Exhibition,” a collection of 13 photographic reproductions of the 16th-century frescoes located in the famed chapel. The exhibit will run through Jan. 11, 2020.
Parishioners will come together at Christ Cathedral on Nov. 16, Pope Francis’ Day for the Poor, to help others during the Diocesan Day of Service. Participants will pack food baskets and supply kits, and feed those in need.
Music will feature prominently in the Cathedral’s dedication events. “We have commissioned several new works for the July 17 Dedication,” says Dr. John Romeri, Christ Cathedral’s director of music. Performances by the Diocesan choirs and the Cathedral choirs will also be featured at the Solemn Evening of Prayer with Relics, and the first Mass celebrated by Christ Cathedral Parish.
None of these events – and, of course, the Cathedral’s spectacular restoration itself – would have been possible without the generosity of so many. An additional $2.1 million is needed to complete the remainder of the renovation’s first phase, in order to remain free of any construction debt, assuming the donors fulfill their pledges, says Tony Jennison, the Orange Catholic Foundation’s vice president of philanthropy.
“The new Christ Cathedral is a testament to all of the people who have given so much,” Fr. Christopher says. “It’s the culmination of a vision and the beginnings of a place for the Diocese of Orange that I hope will shine as a beacon to the area and to the rest of the world.”