On her third-floor office within the Diocese of Orange’s Pastoral Center, Lesa Truxaw is surrounded by rows and stacks of leather-bound books.
Well, they may not all be leather-bound, but they’re certainly not just for show.
As director of the Office for Worship, Truxaw needs to be embedded head-high in a deeply sourced well of information. She relies on what those texts have to say, and such coveted information is generally not on the internet.
“You really do need the books,” Truxaw said with a laugh.
Since 2002, Truxaw has been the Diocese’s go-to person for liturgical questions, and helps facilitate sacramental celebrations, liturgies and devotionals. As an assistant to the bishop, she prepares major Diocesan celebrations, from the annual Chrism Mass to a major dedication.
Her role also has her advising on liturgical design and giving approvals for new churches and parish renovations. It has even helped her become a historian of the Diocese’s varied architectural marvels.
But come this July, Truxaw will be retiring from her role and shifting to part-time advisory work as her upcoming replacement, Deacon Modesto Cordero of the Diocese of Honolulu, gets oriented.
For the Southern California native, it has been an incredible journey, and certainly not one she seemed initially destined to have.
Truxaw, who lives in Costa Mesa, wasn’t raised Catholic, which she thinks explains her eagerness to soak in all the Catholic traditions she didn’t have growing up. Born in Newport Beach, she grew up attending Nazarene and Baptist churches. She was raised in the San Gabriel Valley but circled back to Newport to attend high school.
She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Cal State Long Beach in home economics, with a minor in marketing. Her initial career had her in the real estate industry as a financial analyst, putting together transactions.
Truxaw later transitioned to become business manager to her father-in-law’s business, a land surveying and civil engineering firm. But by the mid-1990s, Truxaw sought a career change. A career assessment service through UC Irvine pointed her toward a teaching or religious position.
By 1994, Truxaw was director of RCIA (rite of Christian initiation of adults) for St. Vincent de Paul in Huntington Beach. She later became its director of worship before transferring to the Diocese of Orange headquarters in 2002.
Truxaw converted to Catholicism in June 1986 at St. Boniface in Anaheim. It happened after she received a troubling cancer diagnosis.
“My husband and I needed to find a common spiritual home,” she said. “We decided it made the most sense to have our home in the Catholic Church.”
Truxaw deepened her knowledge by attaining a master’s in pastoral liturgy from Santa Clara University. She moved to the Northern California campus over five summers to complete her coursework.
At the Diocese, one of her career highlights was the installation of Bishop Kevin Vann in 2012. Vann’s coming to Orange County happened on relatively short notice, and Truxaw needed to find a large venue for the job. The site ended up being the Bren Events Center at UC Irvine, where 4,000 people showed up.
“I had to transform a gym, a basketball arena, into a sacred space,” Truxaw said. “And doing that on such short notice was hair-raising. It was a massive process.”
She also pointed to the 2019 dedication of Christ Cathedral, formerly known as Crystal Cathedral. The iconic Garden Grove church was renovated to fit the Catholic church’s needs and traditions.
Working on such massive endeavors, with large groups of talented, diverse people, has been a rewarding part of Truxaw’s career.
“I love the collaborative process,” she said.
Bishop Timothy Freyer paid tribute to Truxaw’s dedication to Christ Cathedral and the Diocese of Orange. “I have enjoyed serving with Lesa over the years as a member of the catechumenate advisory board, the liturgical commission and in planning liturgies. Lesa has always had a heart of service, has been faithful to the Church’s directives and strives to include all our communities in our diocesan liturgies.
“When I was a pastor, I would call Lesa with various questions and always found her to be insightful and clear in her communication.
“Lesa loves the Church and has always tried to help all of us to prayerfully participate in our worship of the Lord. She will be greatly missed.”
LESA TRUXAW’S CAREER, BY THE NUMBERS:
- 26 diaconate ordinations
- 22 presbyteral ordinations
- 4 episcopal ordinations
- Installation of Bishop Vann
- 4 funerals for bishops
- 17 dedications of parish churches (soon to be 18 with Christ Our Savior)
- Renovation and dedication of Christ Cathedral