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Lumen Gentium

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Lumen Gentium

The Naming of the Cathedral of Christ the Light

The future Cathedral was named in 2000 at the turn of the millennium, even before a commitment was made to build it. A committee to consider a name had been put together by then Bishop John Cummins with the charge to fulfill several general criteria:

  • A name should reflect the tradition and spirit of the Diocese
  • A name should have the practical function of inspiring the architect and the artists who will adorn the building
  • A name should help the cathedral unify the functions of the Diocese
  • A name should reflect the catholicity of the Church’s mission


Former pastor of St. Francis de Sales Cathedral, Fr. Don Osuna, recalls inspirations for the name:

“The name is a departure from the tradition of naming cathedrals after Mary the Mother of God or a patron saint. In dedicating its mother church to Christ the Light, the Diocese of Oakland highlights the role that Christ must play in the new millennium.

“Only Jesus, ‘light from light, true God from true God,’ can guide the Human Family into the uncertain challenges of future centuries. Jesus himself declared, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.'

“The name ‘Christ the Light’ also resonates with the image of God’s people so impressively described in Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. Its opening sentence reads, ‘Christ is the light of nations’ [Lumen Gentium].

“In it the council fathers express their heart-felt desire that by proclaiming the Gospel to every creature the People of God ‘may bring to all the light of Christ which shines out visibly from the Church.'

“Light is a universal phenomenon, celebrated by every country and cherished by every culture. The Cathedral will hopefully provide a resting place – like a candelabra – for those who seek a home and for those who may seek a beacon in the night.”