There may be a new gravitational center for Catholic thought on the very land tread by 1700s Spanish Franciscan missionary Father Junipero Serra, and a lawyer is at the heart of much of it.
It’s indicative of the move in recent years by the Catholic laity to assume more leadership roles in the Church, taking up Saint Pope John Paul II’s banner of the “New Evangelization.” But like any startup endeavor, it takes money, expertise and the right location.
Orange County-based attorney and businessman Tim Busch has been practicing law for 35 years, and is the founder of the law firm of Busch & Caspino (with Michael Caspino, who, as reported by Breitbart News, recently spearheaded efforts to retrieve a Consecrated Host from self-proclaimed satanists in Oklahoma City).
The firm handles estate planning, real estate and business transactions, taxes and litigation for high-net-worth individuals. It also specializes in dealing with a variety of legal issues for private schools, universities and religious organizations, especially the Catholic Church.
In his spare time, he co-founded two private Catholic schools — St. Anne School in Laguna Niguel, and JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano. Bush is a member of Legatus, an organization for Catholic CEOs and their spouses, and both he and wife Steph are active in in Catholic life and charities.
On the business side, Busch and his firm were heavily involved in the Catholic Diocese of Orange’s 2012 purchase of the 3,000-seat Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, a glittering glass structure, designed by architect Philip Johnson, and its accompanying 35-acre campus, after televangelist Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral Ministries fell into bankruptcy in 2010. The rapidly growing diocese, which has 1.2M Catholics, paid $57M, well less than the $200M it would have taken to build a new church on a lot half the size of the Garden Grove property.
Telling Breitbart News that the Cathedral might not be open for Mass until early 2017, Busch says, “You could never assemble that piece of property [now] in the center of Orange County, but it took 62 years at a time when Orange County wasn’t nearly as robust as it is today.”
According to Busch, the campus features six buildings comprising 350,000 square feet, and while the sanctuary isn’t open yet, it’s a functioning parish. Daily Masses (including ones in Spanish and Vietnamese) for the Christ Cathedral Parish community. are offered in the Arboretum, a 1961 building designed by architect Richard Neutra.
“Over 13,000 people go to Mass there every weekend,” says Busch. “It’s highly unusual to have a cathedral parish with that type of activity. Cathedral parishes are typically in urban areas, and absent St. Patrick’s Cathedral [in New York City], are rarely attended by the lay faithful.
“Normally, the families that belong to a cathedral parish are 500 to 1,000, and here you have more like 4,000 to 5,000 families. It’s very multicultural. So it’s really representative of not only our whole country, but our state and our nation and our whole faith.”
The diocesan headquarters are already on the campus, along with the Cathedral Academy, with preschool through Grade 8. Recently, worldwide Catholic satellite and radio network EWTN announced it was opening a West Coast studio in the 14-story Tower of Hope.
“It has become the home of multiple movements that are going on in the Church,” says Busch, “which include EWTN, but also a 25-station Catholic radio network called Immaculate Heart Radio. It’s also going to house the West Coast office of the Augustine Institute, which is a Biblical institute out of Denver. Then there’s the Magis Center, which is a reason-and-faith center that was started by Father Robert Spitzer.
“I actually co-founded it, and it’s been based in my office since its founding 10 years ago, and it’s being moved there. And Dynamic Catholic, which is Matthew Kelly, on of the most recognized Christian speakers, who is going to put a West Coast office there. And it goes on and on.
“There are several other ministries that are looking to relocate there. This is going to create great synergies among those ministries, to collaborate on donor bases and organizational structure.”
The Christ Cathedral campus replicates on a much larger scale what Busch has been doing in his own offices in Irvine, Calif. Along with the Magis Center and a chapel open to the public for Mass, it’s home to the Napa Institute, which Busch co-founded. It puts on events on both coasts intended to “equip participants to defend and advance their Catholic faith in ‘the next America’ — today’s emerging secular society.”
Its biggest event is an annual summertime conference, held at the Meritage Resort & Spa in Napa Valley (another of Busch’s businesses is a winery). Click here for videos of talks from past events.
While he laughs off the suggestion that he’s “Jesus’ lawyer,” Busch doesn’t downplay his big hopes for Christ Cathedral.
“The Christ Cathedral campus is another way of not only appealing to Catholics,” he says, “but appealing to people of all faiths. Our intent is to use the campus for all kinds of activities, and to bring people to the campus, because they’re not coming to church.
“Only 22 percent come to Mass, so we’ve got to reach out to them. As the Holy Father says, we must get out there and smell the sheep. We must get out there and meet people where they’re at, not wait in our churches and expect they’re going to show up there.”
In 2005, the Magis Institute, collaborating with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, sponsored the first annual Los Angeles Catholic Prayer Breakfast, the next edition of which takes place on Tuesday, Sept. 16, at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles. It features a talk by Sister Regina Marie Gorman, the Vicar General of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles.
The Orange County Prayer Breakfast, which began in 2006, takes place on Sept. 25. In 2013, it became part of the Napa Institute, and is to be held at Christ Cathedral. The keynote speaker is Dr. Tim Gray of the Augustine Institute, and the event ends with a tour of the Cathedral campus.
Photo: Alex Gallardo/Reuters