New cathedral unveiled in Oakland

September 25, 2008 7:08:10 PM PDT
After three years of construction, Oakland now has a new Catholic cathedral. Hundreds of people came to the opening ceremony of the Cathedral of Christ the Light. It is a new place of hope and healing-- for a city, some believe, that could use a little more of both.

Several knocks on the huge wooden doors and the world's newest Catholic cathedral was formally opened to the public.

Forty Catholic Bishops from around the nation attended the ceremony. The Vatican sent one of its highest ranking members, Cardinal William Levada, who once served as Archbishop of San Francisco.

"I think it's something the church needs. It needs places where we can be sure that we're a local church," said Sister Laurel O'Neal.

Many here in Oakland say the Cathedral of Christ the Light will hopefully be a place of healing.

"To be one, past religions, past race, it's just all about one humanity," said Lisa Lee, an Oakland resident.

Craig Hartman, from Kidmore, Owings and Merrill, is the architect.

"We really turned to many of the ideas of antiquity, to letting light and the most modest materials make a great spiritual space," said Hartman.

The cathedral has a concrete base with a structure made of stainless steel, glass and wood. It seats 13,000 people and it stands on a two and a half acre site. The cost to build it was $190 million.

There is also a conference center, rectory, and public plaza. The cathedral was built to replace the St. Francis de Sales damaged by the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. Hartman says it's one of his most rewarding projects.

"Do you think you've gained some points in heaven?" asked ABC7's Lyanne Melendez.
"I hope so, I could use some points I tell ya," said Hartman.

Guided tours of the new cathedral begin on October 1.


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