More than 4,500 Orange County Catholics descended on Christ Cathedral for Sunday’s 9:30 a.m. Mass. They celebrated Mass, presided over by Bishop Kevin W. Vann, and commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange. The Mass was broadcast live worldwide on EWTN, the Eternal Word Television Network.
The parking lot next to the Pastoral Center was transformed into an outdoor church with seating for 5,000. An enormous stage was erected and draped to accommodate the co-celebrants. Congregants wore hats and shaded themselves from the intense sun with event programs, but no one seemed to mind the heat as incense, carried by a light breeze, wafted from the altar all the way to the standing-room-only crowd in the back.
Christ Cathedral Music Director John Romeri, a team of musicians, and an inspiring choir elevated the Mass to “cathedral” status, a hint of what the Mass experience will be like when the renovation and transformation of Christ Cathedral is completed and Mass can be celebrated inside.
Prior to Mass, some 500 took part in the first Christ Cathedral 5k. Some were in it to win, while others walked and enjoyed the company of friends. Money raised from entry fees will be used to support Christ Cathedral outreach programs.
After Mass, a full range of activities drew even more to enjoy the day on the campus. A virtual reality experience within the still-under-renovation cathedral gave attendees a chance to don special goggles and view what the cathedral will look like when completed two years from now.
The Cultural Center lobby was the site of an art and photo exhibit, filled with spiritual images that had many stopping to contemplate what they represented. A pop-up bookstore offered books, CDs and gift items.
In the Freed Theater, attendees were able to hear from three keynote speakers including Dr. Tim Gray, president of the Augustine Institute, Pia De Solenni, S.TL., S.T.D, professor of moral theology and associate dean of the Augustine Institute, and Heather King, Angelus columnist and author. They spoke on how we are each called to “become like Jesus.” St. Joseph Health presented on “Mental Health in our Community.”
Outside, people enjoyed food trucks, music, activities for the kids and even real snow.
The festivities led up to the much-anticipated Journey Concert that began in the late afternoon and was streamed live on AOL to its global audience. It featured the most popular Christian Music performers today, including Matt Maher, Colton Dixon, Phil Wickham, Andy Mineo, and Jordan Feliz. Several thousand returned to the outdoor stage and enjoyed the uplifting concert well into the evening hours.