Ground broken for new Oakland cathedral

The ground was broken Saturday for one of the only cathedrals to be constructed in California in the last 200 years.

The Cathedral of Christ the Light in the Diocese of Oakland, California, will be built on Lake Merritt. The cathedral will replace the St. Frances de Sales Cathedral, which was damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and demolished four years later.

The cost of the new cathedral is estimated at $131-million cathedral. The diocese has already raised $100 million from private sources, said Bishop Allen Vigneron. He expressed his confidence that the diocese will be able to raise the rest.

The new cathedral will seat 1,500 and be built on an elevated public plaza, which will include an olive garden with benches, a library, a cafe and a bookstore. Below the plaza are street-level entrances to a conference center, offices and the parish hall.

The newly named rector of the cathedral parish is Fr. Quang Dong, who fled Vietnam in 1980, and arrived in the United States 20 years ago.

"This is a multicultural cathedral," Bishop Vigneron said. "It's very much Pacific Rim, not European."

Architect Craig Hartman of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, LLP, designed the luminous cathedral based on what was expressed at the Second Vatican Council, that "Christ is the Light of all Peoples."

The Diocese of Oakland serves more than 500,000 Catholics from 89 parishes.

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