A year and a half after ground was officially broken, work on the first phase of expansion on the Cathedral Memorial Gardens cemetery on the campus of Christ Cathedral is on pace for a July 2020 opening and a Nov. 2 All Souls Day dedication.

Although original plans were for a December 2019 opening, the schedule was pushed back soon after the July, 2019 dedication due to the complexity and scope of work.

Currently, the building of a new Sanctuary of Eternal Life is well underway.

“The construction is on schedule,” said Father Christopher Smith, episcopal vicar and rector for Christ Cathedral. “I think it will be very beautiful.”

“They’re pouring lots of concrete and lots of steel,” said Michael Wesner, director of cemeteries for the Diocese of Orange.

In addition to expanding the footprint of the cemetery and adding the sanctuary, the project will feature a mausoleum, sarcophagi  (stone coffins) and thousands of glass and marble niches. The project will add .87 acres to the three-acre parcel, increasing the number of available burial spaces by 6,300. This number includes more than 4,000 niche spaces, 1,200 lawn spaces, sold in two-lot packages.

When done, the new sales office, sanctuary and mausoleum will flow seamlessly out of the original structures with the same architectural style and color palette, according to Wesner. There will also be colorful glass artwork as part of the expansion and greater access for the disabled.

The cemetery is valued not only for its tranquil setting and design, but as the only active cemetery on Catholic church grounds in the diocese. Because of that, “we’re out of space. There’s no room,” Fr. Chris said of the cemetery that was opened in 1991 by the late Rev. Robert Schuller on the grounds of the former Crystal Cathedral.

“Expansion is necessary due to diminished interment inventory to sell,” Wesner said when ground broke for the expansion. “We are completely sold out of traditional grounds space, under 100 traditional mausoleum spaces, little over 1,000 cremation niche spaces remaining….”

The above comes from a Jan. 21 story in the OCCatholic.