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Bishop of Orange signs construction contract for renovation of Christ Cathedral

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Bishop Kevin Vann holds up a letter signifying approval from Beniamino Cardinal Stella to complete renovations to Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove.
(Kevin Chang / TimesOC)

Christ Cathedral’s $72.3 million construction project will formally begin June 1, and when the cathedral reopens in 2019 it will become the spiritual home to more than 1.3 million Orange County Catholics.

The Diocese of Orange celebrated the start of the renovation project May 23 with a contract-signing ceremony at the sanctuary’s future renovated place of worship in Garden Grove. The site was once home to the Crystal Cathedral.

Bishop Kevin Vann signed the construction agreement with Irvine-based general contractor Snyder Langston, which has been selected to complete the renovation of the cathedral originally designed by architect Phillip Johnson and partner John Burgee.

Construction is to be completed in October 2018 with a formal dedication likely in early 2019.

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More than 10,000 panes of the cathedral’s mirrored glass already have been re-caulked and resurfaced, under budget and on schedule, Rev. Christopher Smith, rector and episcopal vicar, told guests at the signing ceremony.

Vann thanked participants involved in the reconstruction project and explained the cathedral’s meaning to the community.

The contract signing is timely, as the Catholic Church has feast days ahead, Vann said, noting Pentecostal Sunday on June 4 — often called the birth of the church — and the feast day of Saints Peter and Paul, who built the great basilicas in Europe, on June 29.

“Those temples signify the presence of Christ and have stood after all these centuries,” Vann said.

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Snyder Langston president and chief operating officer John Rochford commented on the building company’s excitement for the project.

“We saw this as an opportunity to take on a unique, high-end challenge, and our people will pour their heart and soul into this project,” Rochford said.

“I’ll be back in 20 months, sitting in the front row at Mass, and I’ll still be a Catholic at that time,” Rochford said to laughs.

A Eucharistic procession following the signing ceremony marked the first time the Blessed Sacrament — commonly known as Holy Communion, where wafers are given to the faithful — was presented in the Cathedral.

Guests and clergy exited through the main doors and walked around the perimeter of the sanctuary to the future site of the Blessed Sacrament chapel.

The arboretum is currently used as a place of worship by parishioners of St. Callistus until the renovation of Christ Cathedral is completed. The renovated cathedral will seat more than 2,000 people.

kathleen.luppi@latimes.com

Twitter: @KathleenLuppi

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