Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Christ the Light

The Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland will be consecrated and dedicated on September 25, 2008. This is the second most expensive cathedral ever built in the America. At $191 million, it costs $40 million less than the Los Angeles archdiocese’s Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, which opened in 2002. The cathedral locates across from Lake Merritt will serve as the seat of the Diocese of Oakland and the home of the Oakland Bishop - The Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron. This is one of the most diversed dioceses in the country with Masses celebrated in 17 languages.

The 135-foot-tall concrete, glass and Douglas fir structure with 1,425 seats for worshipers, designed by San Francisco architect Craig Hartman, will replace the St. Francis de Sales Cathedral, which was irreparably damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The new cathedral center will include a public plaza, a cafe, a bookstore, chancery offices, a 500-seat conference center, a 200-car garage, and residence for the cathedral rector Father Quang Minh Dong. The recently formed Cathedral Parish of Christ The Light is the home parish for about 700 families. Father Quang, 48, came to the Bay Area from Vietnam in 1980 as a boat people. He was ordained in May 1990 after graduated from St. Patrick's Seminary and University in Menlo Park.

The cathedral was originally planned in 2000 under the direction of Bishop John Cummins and broken ground on May 21, 2001 with $65 million donation from the Wayne and Gladys Valley Foundation. Wayne Valley was the founder of Citation Builders, one of the largest homebuilders in California. So far the Catholic Cathedral Corporation of the East Bay (the nonprofit organization that owns the cathedral) has raised over $100 million for the building of the cathedral. One of the cathedral's grandest features will be its Omega Wall, which will let in light through 94,000 pinpoints forming an image of Christ. The cathedral also has a mausoleum located at the lower level beneath the church. Operated by the Catholic Cemeteries division of the Diocese, the mausoleum will have approximately 1,300 spaces for crypts and 1,450 niches for cremated remains. There are 12 crypts reserved for the past, present and future Bishops of Oakland. The first Bishop of Oakland, the Most Reverend Floyd Begin, will be re-interred in the mausoleum at a special service after the cathedral is dedicated in 2008.

Miss Universe in July

For the next two weeks, a magnificent stretch of white sand beaches and emerald sea in central Vietnam will be the host for some of the world's most beautiful women as they show off their looks and talents to compete for Donald Trump's coveted Miss Universe title.

The quaint small town of Nha Trang is well known in Vietnam for its pure white sands. In the late 1990s, with the economic transformation in full throttle, a few overseas Vietnamese with entrepeneurial spirit returned with money and a real estate development dream. Pham Nhat Vuong, who made his fortune as a retailer of consumer goods in Ukraine, built a resort named Vina Pearl on a small island off the coast of Nha Trang. Now it has become the most well known resort in Vietnam with suites renting out at $1,200 a night for the Miss Universe event. The event is expected to draw 10,000 or more people and there is simply not enough accomdation for that many tourists and the press entourage. The solution, a luxury cruise liner anchors right off the beach overlooking the Crown Convention Center where the show is taken place.
Not to be outdone, next year, Miss World, the European version of Miss Universe, will also be in Nha Trang in July. Earlier in the week at Ho chi Minh city, some of the girls tried on the ao dai, the traditional Vietnamese dress. One of the well known fashion designers commented: " The girls fitted in the ao dai beautifully since they all have gorgeous body measurement."