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MEMOIRS OF CHRIST CATHEDRAL HISTORIC CELEBRATION OF FAITH

By Tammy Thao Tran     8/7/2019

“You have been working so hard. Why don’t you take a little break?” I asked.

“I can’t,” said one of the workers. “We have to get ready for the big night this Saturday, and the Cathedral Dedication next Wednesday…we have been working long hours… “

Seeing all of these “working bees” attend meeting after meeting—walking fast with phones stuck to their ears; sweat rolling down the faces of the men moving tables and chairs and bringing in plants; putting up the big tents and decorating for this occasion—I wanted to give them a hand, but I knew better to not to get in their way so I stood still.

I’ve heard about this Historic Celebration concert and dinner featuring The Pacific Symphony Orchestra, Jackie Evancho and Chris Mann. I really wanted to attend. I thought the music would sound sweeter to the ears, the food would taste much better to the palate, and the evening would be more enjoyable being shared with others, but who shall I share this special evening with? Going through the list in my mind, I had to put names in a hat and draw only one name.

After helping at St. Justin Martyr church’s annual Carnival the weekend of June 6th-8th, I went to “The Messengers of Fatima” new religious orders in St. Clair, Missouri for two weeks to help with their “Fatima Days.” When I got home and took a quick look at my July calendar, I couldn’t remember if my guest had responded. I hope he said yes, otherwise…

The weather on Saturday afternoon was expected to be hot. What should I wear to this Gala black tie? I knew the event started at 5:00 PM for hors d’oeuvres and hosted cocktails outside, and then the concert would be inside the Cathedral before an elegant dinner in the Cathedral plaza. The Cathedral has air-conditioning, but it will be hot outside before sunset, then it might be cool in the evening. I don’t want to wear my sleeveless little black dress! Well, let the Lord take care of the weather, just enjoy it and let it be.

Driving into the Cathedral, we were greeted by security and volunteers at the gate and directed us toward valet parking. We came in a few minutes before 6 PM but didn’t have to look for a parking space because of valet parking. What a relief! Check-in was a breeze. Having tickets in hand, we were greeted by Trudy, Director of Tour Ministry, with smiles and hugs as we walked into the Cathedral.

I wished I could sit in the South balcony so I can see the orchestra and Jackie, but well, Section I was not bad. The audio system was superb compared to what it was a few days before when Father C. Smith gave us a tour inside. I really enjoyed the program and concert. Susan and Tim Strader and Richard Heim received recognition awards from Bishop Vann. I’ve had chances to talk to the Straders a couple of times when they came to the Cathedral; this lovely couple really inspired me. I was also very happy to hear Bishop Vann share the results of this fundraising event.

We walked outside after receiving music for our souls and the blessing for our food, and we were again, greeted by a team of courteous volunteers with smiles on their faces. Also, the Garden Grove police officers politely and confidently gave us eye contact as to reassure our safety and security.

At the reception, hostesses were ready to pour red or white wine, or water, and there was an open bar if one wanted something else to drink. We entered huge tents, decorated with chandeliers; all the tables were decorated beautifully with roses, orchids and candles. Our first course was Mesquite Grilled Asparagus, Locally Grown Heirloom Figs, Candied La Quercia Prosciutto, Shaved Ciabatta Croutons, and topped with Whole Grain Mustard Vinaigrette. These beautiful dishes were on the table ready for us as hostesses went around with baskets of artisan breadsticks.

People were still walking in when the second course of Champagne Mango and Dungeness Crab, Finger Lime, Hass Avocado, Girl and Dug Farm Soft Herbs and Blossoms arrived. This consisted of marinated crab wrapped in thin slices of yellow mango and a tiny blue blossom on top, with avocado and peach-colored drops and green herbs decorating the plate. It was almost too beautiful to eat.

The entrée was Cape Grimm Grass-fed Tenderloin of Beef, Foraged Mushrooms, Truffle-scented Onion Ring, Bordelaise Potato-wrapped Diver Scallop, Bloomsdale Spinach, with a Balsamic Brown Butter Vinaigrette that satisfied my hungry inner child.

Disney already had their fireworks for the night, so I knew it was passed my bedtime. I had to be home before the Cathedral’s beautiful brickwork become my bed, so we skipped the dessert which was a trio: Silver Egg, Salted Caramel Budino, Crunchy Tahitian Vanilla Chantilly with Spun Sugar; Modern Pavlova, Corn Husk Meringue, Passion Fruit Push Pop, Rice Crispy Cracklings; and Flourless Chocolate Truffle Cake, Luxardo Cherries, Hazelnut Crunch, and a 24 Karat Gold Leaf. I could only dream of this decadent dessert, but I really didn’t care if I would have gained ten pounds from this.

Having the privilege to share exquisite food and plenty of wines with honorable companions Rev. Bill Cao, Pastor of St Anthony Claret; Rev. Al Baca and Ms. Patricia; Rev Theodore Olson; Mr. Davis ; Mr. Larry Urish; and my very special guest, Rev. Joseph Robillard, our Pastor who celebrated his 35th Ordination of Priesthood on June 8, 2019, made it a night to remember. What else could I ask for except to give thanks to our Almighty God, to Bishops Kevin Vann, Tim Fryer and Thomas Thanh Nguyen, to Rev. C. Smith, to Michelle, and to all people who put so much effort, labor and love to plan and make this event, 2019 CHRIST CATHEDRAL- A HISTORIC CELEBRATION OF FAITH CONCERT AND DINNER, a marvelous night. Lastly, indefinite gratitude to my one and only very, very, very old “rich Friend” (Jesus).

Dedication Mass

Wednesday morning, July 17th, I was so excited, anticipating our Cathedral Dedication that I woke before 5AM. I knew Docents would be inside the Cathedral, a big THANK to Trudy, Sister Kit and the Cathedral Dedication Planning Committee. Upon check-in at St. Columban Church in Garden Grove, there was a little glitch. My name, and the name of another female volunteer from Irvine who arrived at the same time as me, weren’t on Wednesday’s list. If your name wasn’t on the list, you had to go home. Fortunately, docent was a different category, and after about 35 minutes of getting things straightened out, I stepped onto the VIP shuttle and was finally on my way to attend the dedication of the Cathedral I’ve been anxiously awaiting for the past seven years.

I didn’t have an assignment from Trudy, so, as usual, since flexible is a docent’s other name, I put myself to work wherever I thought I was most needed. Standing on the East side, I directed people to the arboretum, powder rooms, large gallery where Permanent Deacons vest, but I didn’t know where the wives of the Deacons would sit so I had to go find out. When I came back, I saw quite a few volunteers at my previous post, so I decided to join Carmen (also from St. Justin Martyr Catholic Church SJM) to greet people arriving on the Chapman side, and direct them to go straight to the arboretum and large gallery, turn left to get in line to get to the Cathedral or turn right to get to the Cultural center for priests vesting and Parishes’ Representatives.

The angels probably knew my concerns about some of the former clergies and guided me to the North side. Soon after, Most Reverend Oscar Solis arrived and asked where undercroft is for the Bishops’ vesting room. I had the privilege of holding his staff and miter three years ago when he presided at the 5 AM Simbang Gabi mass for the Filipino community at St. Justin. I’d been wondering where he was, and why he hadn’t come to celebrate with us anymore, but then my questions were answered by him. Bishop Solis had been assigned in Utah for over two years and that was why he hasn’t been with us.

Walking Bishop Solis down to the undercroft, we encountered Father Nicolas Toan, also from SJM, the right person for this. He showed us the vesting room for the priests and bishops. Ah, I’m so glad Bishop is in good hands, and now I know where to take other bishops for vesting.

About 9:00 AM, I went to the Baptistry, and then to the main Cathedral entrance to help people find their seats. Someone asked me to stay on the left main entrance to help people and that was where I remained. I didn’t know that I was at the main entrance. Oh, it was so beautiful seeing the procession of the relics by different cultural groups in their traditional outfits holding bowls of lit incense, the smoke was rising to the Lord; followed by Bishops from this country and other nations, then the presider, Bishop Vann. As the Bishop got near the altar, I walked out and saw Trudy. “Go up and find yourself a seat,” she told me. My dream came true! I got to sit on the South balcony where I could see everything going on throughout the Cathedral Dedication Celebration, from the beginning to the end.

At the Gala dinner on Wednesday night, Mr. L Urish shared with me the article he wrote for Christ Cathedral’s July 17th Dedication “REACHING CRITICAL MASS”. I read his article and appreciated it more as I listened to the multilingual choirs this day. More than 250 beautiful voices gave Praises to the Creator. I have the chance to listen to them over and over after obtaining their CD today.

Thanks to everyone for making this place possible for us and for future generations. May God bless you abundantly.

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