Bad news for Oakland’s Cathedral of Christ the Light

Vicar general reports that latest review has determined that earlier construction flaws discovered in the chancery, rectory and parking garage now include cathedral as well

Diocese of Oakland’s Cathedral of Christ the Light (Photo © Timothy Hursley)

The following is from the Diocese of Oakland website.

Dear Parishioners and Friends of the Diocese of Oakland,

I write today to update you regarding our investigation of the design and construction issues at the Cathedral Center. As I have previously reported, the Catholic Cathedral Corporation of the East Bay board of directors approved a plan recommended by our expert consultants for comprehensive physical testing on Cathedral Center buildings. This is part of our ongoing legal action to ensure the responsible parties pay for the necessary corrective work.

The initial physical testing, which focused on the Chancery, rectory and parking garage, was completed in December 2016. As part of our continued investigation, we reviewed the design of the Cathedral and its foundation, in light of the defects discovered in those areas adjacent to and surrounding the Cathedral itself. Unfortunately, this review has uncovered underlying conditions similar to those found in other parts of the Cathedral Center. We are deeply disappointed to discover the Cathedral is also affected. 

A full list of defects has recently been reported to the court-appointed special master for our case and to the parties named in our claim. The court-appointed special master is overseeing the development and exchange of information between the parties in preparation for mediation. Since this is a complex case, it is not possible to predict the timeline or outcome of the mediation. The special master is making sure the case moves along as quickly as possible without sacrificing our rights or the rights of the defendants.

Our goal is to ensure the safety of all who use these facilities, and to be good stewards of the generosity which built our Cathedral and the Cathedral Center. The Cathedral of Christ the Light should stand as a reminder of the beautiful radiance of Christ’s light in our community. The project architect and structural engineer have advised us the Cathedral Center buildings are safe for our employees, visitors and parishioners to occupy, while we continue to seek resolution of the design and construction issues. 

To limit further deflection of the floor slab and future repair costs of the B1 level of the parking garage, it will remain closed for the foreseeable future. We have also asked our expert consultants to identify recommended repairs to limit further deterioration and future repair costs throughout the Cathedral Center and the Cathedral itself.

Thank you for your patience and support as we work to address these issues. We will continue to update you as the project progresses.

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Very Reverend George Mockel
Vicar General
President of the Catholic Cathedral Corporation of the East Ba

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  1. Anonymousse says:

    So, it’s not only ugly but structurally flawed. The people who approved that monstrosity have much to answer for.

  2. Anonymous 2 says:

    Should we not wonder if a traditional Romanesque-style Catholic Church design, the engineering challenges of which are already well-known, time-tested and already solved, would have been a better design-choice by Archbp. Vigneron?

    The same issues of pushing the engineering envelope have shown inherent flaws in the former-Crystal Cathedral, now the Diocese of Orange’s cathedral, for example.

    • I think Bishop Vigneron at the time INHERITED an already contract that couldn’t be broken under the previous Bishop.

      • Anonymous 2 says:

        Actually, Peter S., the design of the Cathedral was announced in 2000 under then-Bishop Cummins: but Abp. Vigneron took over in Jan. 2003.

        Ground was not broken until May, 2005—two years to put matters on hold—plenty of time for Abp.Vigneron to change course— if he had the courage to do so.

        This points out a much bigger problem: successor bishops are so obsequious to the bad decisions of prior bishops, they won’ change course. There never seems to be a capacity to correct errors.

        • Anonymous 2 says:

          Rather so much like the post-Vatican 2. Church. Errors compounded on errors.

          But we will continue the errors of our predecessor bishops, rather than admit it all.

        • There were some very progressive liberal pastors who were influential in the process of the design . Perhaps that was not a small factor in the final decision. Was it not Bishop V.’s FIRST assignment at being an Ordinary, some one who had no experience of the Bay area. I give him some slack.
          I think it was the previous Bishop who can be faulted for most of it.

      • (Now) Abp. Vigneron could have changed the design because the construction contracts hadn’t been signed when he took over. Naturally, the new design would have cost the diocese even more money that it didn’t have.

        Based on some of the things one reads on Church Militant, it doesn’t seem like Abp. Vigneron has had a particularly great track record after leaving Oakland either.

  3. Michael McDermott says:

    So many Catholic Schools literally in sight of the Cathedral, without even playgrounds for the Children… And This.
    Who made these decisions to forego the Future of the Church in order to build (admittedly quite beautiful) monuments to its present bosses?

  4. I guess my question is whether all these problems are “fixable” or whether the cost effective thing to do is to demolish and rebuild.

  5. St. Christopher says:

    Time to implode this monstrosity. Christ deserves beauty in His liturgy, and in those structures that house His gift of Self to Mankind. Get rid of this junk and build something that reflects the best of what Mankind can offer.

  6. I thought virtually all of the readers of this site were adults. So why not refer to parts of the anatomy with the correct name?? Why indirect references to sitcoms?
    In my opinion, there is a fundamental question of what is the greater glory of God. Tens of millions for an ornate building used less than 20% of the time.? Or a simple plain building with the ‘bling’ spent on the hungry, sick, etc.? For whatever you do to the least of these, you do also to me.

  7. San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles…Are these monuments to “relevant” architects just cheaper than something beautiful? Is it just too expensive to build something transcendent that will need to seat a very large number of people? Or are some avant garde designers trying to “out – cool” each other?

  8. Too bad the Mormons already have a temple in Oakland– we can’t sell this monstrosity off to them.

  9. O.L. of Lourdes church on the opposite side of the lake seats about 1, 000 people, as I remember, perhaps that could be expanded?!

  10. I’m starting to think anyone who becomes an ecclesiastical architect must be a masochist.

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