Parishioners from Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church join the chorus of all those singing and celebrating the birth of Jesus this Christmas, but they also rejoice in the completion of their new church home.
Last Saturday, The Most Reverend Kevin Vann – the recently installed Bishop of Orange – along with church officials, numerous dignitaries, and more than 1200 parishioners, formally dedicated the new church during a two and a half hour ceremony. The Mass consisted of several special rites, including sprinkling the church and assembly with holy water, anointing the altar and walls of the church, and incensing the altar and church.
“Twenty-four years of planning, fourteen years of fundraising and sixteen months of construction is a long time to wait for something, but it’s worth it,” Father Kerry Beaulieu said as he summarized the journey involved in constructing their landmark new structure, which is the spiritual home for approximately 4,000 Catholic families.
“My prayer is that the excitement and surprise with our new church will be a cause of joy for you who have worked so long for this,” he continued. “But even more, I pray that this experience will strengthen our faith, deepen our faith, increase our attachment to Christ, and renew our commitment to be people of God, disciples of Jesus Christ and temples of the Holy Spirit actively living our faith in service to the world.”
The world has been watching the construction of the new church, which includes a cross 88-feet above ground at the top of the new bell tower. Father Kerry is excited for the public to come in, look around, and stay and pray if they desire.
“My experience is that this building is alerting the community to Our Lady Queen of Angels in ways not done before,” he said. “We want this to be a sanctuary for the soul, for everybody. It is open every day; we invite people to find a quiet moment to come in and pray. This gives our church community an opportunity to open our doors to the larger community. I’ve seen the members of our parish become much more active in inviting friends and neighbors to come to church. Catholics typically are more private, but they’re become more aware of the need to spread the good news. It’s very exciting.”
“The more people from the community who come see it, the better,” explained Pat Kelly, member of Our Lady Queen of Angels Communications Committee. “This is a place to go for retreat and reflection for the entire Newport community.”
Pat explained that the architectural theme of the building is that faith is a journey of many steps leading toward the light, and the true light of the world is Jesus Christ. Lighting architect Francis Krahe and Associates designed the many lighting features reflected throughout the building. Renowned architectural firm AC Martin Partners designed the church in a Neo-Mediterranean style meant to offer an island of tranquility amid the hectic pace of Orange County.
The 11-foot-high doors of steel and onyx open to a stunning room lined with cherry wood pews on a sloped floor designed to give everybody a good view of the white marble altar. A large steel structure supports the arched ceiling and central skylight. Even the confessionals are wheelchair accessible, and the parishioners appreciate having the crucifix and Stations of the Cross from the original building as part of their new church home.
“The people told us they wanted something timeless but with all the modern conveniences,” Father Kerry explained. “Part of the Catholic tradition is that art and architecture can be an important way to draw people to God. Beauty wherever it is, be it in a sunset or art, is a sign of God.”
The original church will be dismantled in February. Father Kerry explained that the old pews and altar will be donated to Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Mecca, California. OLQA is working with Sacred Heart Church in Palm Desert to provide furnishings for the new church in Mecca.
“It is a very poor parish of 6,000 members, and this is a way to continue to serve,” Father Kerry said. “Also, we’re going to make crosses out of the wood from the old building and many people want the familiar blue tiles.”
The dedication marked the culmination of over 20 years of collaboration among the city, property owners, St. Mark Presbyterian Church, OLQA members, design firms, and consultants.
“We offer our deep thanks to all those people who have contributed to the creation of the new Our Lady Queen of Angels Church,” Father Kerry said. “Their legacy is part of this beautiful building.”
For further information about the church and about self-guided tours, go to www.olqa.org
Cindy can be reached at [email protected]