Historic honor makes us proud

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 25, 1999

Natchez is filled with dozens of unique things. Our community is truly blessed. From our special people to our many one-of-a-kind antebellum houses, Natchez is an original.

On Saturday our community received a new historical distinction. The parishioners of St. Mary Church celebrated the Mass of Elevation of St. Mary Church to the Status of Basilica. It is the first Catholic basilica in Mississippi.

Participants watched history unfold before their eyes in a glorious ceremony.

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Like many of our long-established, active church congregations, the congregation of St. Mary has lived, worked and been a vital part of our community for generations.

The process of nominating the church for the title began more than seven years ago, and Pope John Paul II bestowed the honor late last year.

Earning the distinction of becoming a basilica is no easy task. Many things are taken into account – historic significance and a structure that draws visitors or pilgrims. But perhaps the most important criteria is that the parish must be an active parish. And St. Mary has always been an active parish and an active partner in the community.

The basilica designation honors both the structure and the parishioners.

Through the years some of the faces have changed, but the faith and dignity evident in the congregation of St. Mary has remained.

All of St. Mary’s current parishioners and the thousands who came before them, should be proud of the honor.

We certainly are.