Volunteers key to cathedral renovation

If a friend gave you $100, she could always earn that money back. However, she’d be far more generous if she gave you something that can never be replaced: her time.  

The Christ Cathedral renovation project wouldn’t be possible without help from volunteers who are literally giving “life time donations.” They serve on several Diocese committees, some long-standing and others created specifically for the renovation.  

“The Diocese appreciates our volunteers’ time, treasure and talent,” says Tony Jennison, the Orange Catholic Foundation’s vice president of philanthropy. “It’s gratifying to see how they’re making an impact on their faith in such an altruistic way.” 

This impact has obviously worked both ways, adds Jennison. “The key question: Can we leverage the knowledge of those who have been so successful in their own businesses and organizations?” The answer has been a resounding yes. 

Each committee also includes Diocese clergy and lay professionals. “While the Diocese ultimately makes the final decisions, our volunteers provide critical advice,” Jennison says. “Bishop Vann has done a wonderful job empowering the committees to do what they do best in their specialties.” 

Chaired by Bishop Vann, the Christ Catholic Cathedral Corporation provides the most general “wide-angle view,” since it’s in charge of the overall campus renovation. In addition, the CCCC works closely with the Orange Catholic Foundation, the charitable organization that supports the Diocese of Orange. “Six of the seven campus buildings have been renovated with funds raised from donors who participated in the For Christ Forever and Christ Cathedral campaigns,” Jennison says. “The seventh, the Cathedral, is nearing completion.” 

The vision of the Christ Cathedral Master Planning Committee is equally broad in scope. However, its vision is directed toward the campus’ future. The committee’s chair is Tim Psomas, former chair of the board for Psomas, one of the top consulting engineering firms in the nation. 

The Christ Cathedral Facilities Corporation owns the Christ Cathedral land and buildings and oversees the improvements to all buildings,” Jennison says. Chaired by Rand Sperry, CEO of Sperry Commercial Global Affiliates and Sperry Equities, “It was established in 2012 and safeguards the Cathedral property and improvements.” 

The Cathedral Construction Advisory Committee got a real boost when Richard Heim, division president and CEO of Clark Construction’s Western Region, agreed to act as its chair. Composed of experts in construction, real estate development, engineering, finance and fundraising, this committee advises Bishop Vann about everything related to the renovation process itself.  

Chaired by The Very Rev. Christopher Smith, episcopal vicar and rector of Christ Cathedral, the Dedication Committee is planning and executing Christ Cathedral’s upcoming dedication on July 17. The committee is also behind several events to take place before and after the big day, including the Dedication Evening of Celebration fundraiser and a Solemn Evening Prayer and Vigil with Relics, among many others. 

Fr. Smith also chairs the Diocese’s Sacred Arts Commission. “It directs the commissioning and execution of the Cathedral’s sacred art, and will oversee future art-related issues that come up,” Jennison says. This includes how to best deal with a donated work: what is right for the Cathedral, where the work will be displayed and so forth. 

The Christ Cathedral Campaign Task Force works closely with the Diocese and the Orange Catholic Foundation to raise the funds needed to complete Christ Cathedral’s renovation. An additional $2.1 million is required to complete the renovation’s first phase, to remain free of any construction debt, assuming the donors fulfill their pledges. The committee is co-chaired by Tim and Susan Strader, who have spearheaded projects for a variety of worthy causes throughout Orange County and our Diocese. 

The Diocesan Finance Council is responsible for advising the Bishop on the management of Diocese finances, which includes the approval of all material spending. Chaired by Annette Walker, president of City of Hope Orange County, the council is also charged with the review and approval of the annual budget for the Pastoral Center of the Diocese. 

 Finally, the Orange Catholic Foundation, whose board of directors is chaired by volunteer Steve Muzzy, is comprised of lay and clergy leaders. The foundation is an autonomous charitable corporation that raises, manages, grows and grants funds according to donor intent to support the mission of the Catholic Church throughout the Diocese of Orange.  

“Individually and collectively, the advice and counsel provide the spark for meaningful initiatives that have a long-lasting impact on our community,” Jennison says.   

“It’s considered an honor to be asked by the Diocese to volunteer on these key committees,” Jennison. And the Diocese is honored to have them.

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