The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange is now officially the owner of Garden Grove’s iconic Crystal Cathedral, following the close of escrow proceedings on the property on Friday.
The property was the subject of a court-ordered bankruptcy sale following Crystal Cathedral Ministry’s filing for Chapter 11 in 2010, owing about $60 million to various creditors. The two main bidders vying to purchase the 30.9-acre campus and its associated buildings were Chapman University and the Catholic Diocese, with each side increasing their purchase offers. While at the outset it appeared that Chapman’s offer was favored, due to a clause that would allow the Ministry to repurchase core buildings on the campus (including the Crystal Cathedral itself), the Cathedral’s board had a last-minute change of heart and selected the Catholic Diocese’s offer, which was a higher dollar figure.
The close of escrow on the $57.5 million sale means that the formal transfer of title has been completed. While the Diocese is now the full owner of the campus and buildings, use of the Cathedral and property by the Catholic congregation will not occur for some time. Under the terms of the purchase agreement, Crystal Cathedral Ministries can remain and worship at its former home for three more years, leasing it back from the Diocese for $100,000 per month for the first year, and $150,000 per month for the next two years. At the end of that time, the Ministry would be required to move to another place to continue services, possibly a nearby Catholic church; the Diocese has offered to facilitate a long-term lease of St. Callistus Church in Garden Grove.
When the Diocese does assume full use of the property and before it begins services in the Crystal Cathedral, a few architectural changes will be made to the building to make it appropriate for the Catholic liturgy. However, Bishop Tod Brown has said that the Diocese aims to maintain the integrity of the Cathedral’s status as a landmark.
“Our goal is to preserve an already cherished religious landmark and to enhance its worship use for Orange County Catholics and all people of faith who may be inspired by this wonderful, now Catholic, cathedral,” Brown said
Another change to come is the renaming of the Cathedral. Brown told the O.C. Register that he will ask members of the Diocese to help in coming up with a new name for the building. The only condition is that the new name is something involving Christ.
It remains to be seen whether the church that drew millions from around the globe will ever be known – colloquially, at least –– as anything other than the Crystal Cathedral.
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