On July 24, during the annual Napa Institute gathering in Napa, California, EWTN Chairman and CEO Michael P. Warsaw and the Most Rev. Kevin Vann, Bishop of Orange, announced that the global Catholic satellite and radio network has begun construction on its first West Coast production facility.
Christ Cathedral is the former Crystal Cathedral, headquarters of the TV ministry of televangelist Robert Schuller, host of the “Hour of Power” TV show. The board of Crystal Cathedral Ministries filed bankruptcy in Oct. 2010, and the Diocese beat out several competitors, including Chapman University, to acquire Schuller’s glittering monument to himself.
Designed by architect Philip Johnson, the towering, reflective-glass structure and accompanying 34-acre, seven-building campus are currently undergoing renovations, including modifications to transform the church itself from a stage for Schuller’s preaching/performance into an appropriate space for Catholic worship. Purchased by the Diocese of Orange in November 2011 (which took possession in 2013), it’s set to re-open in 2016.
Said Bishop Vann, “As we transform the Christ Cathedral campus into a dynamic and inspirational center of Catholic worship and outreach, we are blessed to partner with EWTN to share our community’s energy and faithful witness with the world.
“EWTN’s partnership will profoundly benefit our Church, enabling us to share the love of Christ with millions across the world in multiple languages from the Cathedral campus, here in Orange County.”
Said Warsaw, “EWTN is pleased to be able to collaborate with Bishop Vann and the Diocese of Orange on this important new project. The studio being developed there will be of great benefit to EWTN’s programming efforts around the globe.
“The location of the facility gives EWTN a presence in an area of the country where the Network will be able to execute programs that would be difficult to produce elsewhere, particularly for our Spanish-language channels.
“We are also pleased to develop this West Coast studio in advance of the historic renovation of the Christ Cathedral itself. We will be well positioned and prepared to share news of this closely watched transformation with our viewers.”
Although the main nave of the Cathedral is not set to open for some time, the newly formed Christ Cathedral Parish (formerly St Callistus Parish) is holding Masses in the Arboretum on the Christ Cathedral campus.
UPDATE: According to a report in the Orange County Register, EWTN will be housed on the eighth floor of the iconic “Tower of Hope,” with an initial lease of 10 years. While the exact price has not been settled, diocese spokesman Ryan Lilyengren told the OCR that it should be “nominal.” EWTN, headquartered in Alabama, already has studios in Washington, D.C.; Rome; and Cologne, Germany.
Said Lilyengren to the OCR, “The ability to broadcast is going to be a huge benefit to the church. The tower and the campus will become a center of Catholic thought.”
No figures have yet been released for the cost of the studio, but the OCR reports that the diocese already announced a $6.1M investment to upgrade and modernize the tower, which includes a chapel on the 13th floor; with more than $50M being spent to upgrade the entire campus.