Christ Cathedral’s Connection to Archbishop Sheen and Mother Angelica


Bishop Kevin Vann of Orange, California, dedicates Christ Cathedral July 17.
Bishop Kevin Vann of Orange, California, dedicates Christ Cathedral July 17. (photo: Courtesy of the Diocese of Orange)
Long before the July 17 dedication of Christ Cathedral as the Catholic cathedral of the Diocese of Orange, California, the 10,000-paned glass building and 52-acre campus completed in 1980 had a unique Catholic connection: a large bronze life-size statue of Archbishop Fulton Sheen.
The statue stood on the grounds of the former Crystal Cathedral as a memorial of Sheen’s influence on Rev. Robert Schuller, the Protestant televangelist who built the complex as the headquarters of his global televised preaching ministry. In 1972, Schuller invited Sheen to preach on his Hour of Power broadcast before an overflow congregation. The two preachers became friends, and Schuller was quick to admit Sheen’s influence on his own life. “I consider Fulton Sheen to be the brightest, the most brilliant, and the most beautiful Christian in mind and heart that I have known in the 20th century,” Schuller once said. “No one inspired me more than Fulton Sheen to use television to reach the unbelieving world for Christ.”
This admiration provided a fitting backdrop for what would happen 40 years later. When financial difficulties resulted in the sale of Crystal Cathedral in 2011, Rev. Schuller wanted the campus to retain a religious purpose. 
The Diocese of Orange bid to do that — and more. 
With Schuller’s blessing, the diocese purchased the property and converted the worship space, essentially bringing it into the fullness of a Catholic cathedral. 
With the dedication of Christ Cathedral on July 17, not only has the campus retained its religious purpose of witnessing to the faith in California as Schuller desired, but it also is continuing its global presence through television and radio broadcasting. 
In 2013, EWTN partnered with the Diocese of Orange to launch the EWTN West Coast broadcasting center on the Christ Cathedral campus. This new studio allows us to produce more content for our radio and television audience and continue to invite more souls to Christ through the Catholic Church. 
Soon-to-be-beatified Archbishop Sheen was dubbed by Time magazine as “the first televangelist.” Not only did Sheen inspire Schuller, but he planted the seeds for Mother Angelica’s television apostolate that continues today. I can’t help but think that we have his intercession to thank for Christ Cathedral and EWTN West Coast. 
Please join me in praying for Bishop Vann’s outreach to Catholics in his diocese — and for Christ Cathedral to always serve as a beacon of Christ’s truth, calling souls to what even the Protestant Rev. Schuller always referred to as “the mother church.” 
God bless you!