.- On Tuesday, St. Anthony Cathedral in Beaumont was granted Minor Basilica status by Pope Benedict XVI, an honor shared by a small number of churches across the U.S.
Bishop Curtis Guillory announced that, "This is an honor and a blessing, not only for our Catholics, but also for all the people of Southeast Texas.”
In conferring this special status, the Vatican recognizes the artistic and historical significance of the cathedral, as well as the importance it plays in the liturgical and pastoral ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Beaumont.
"This beautiful designation links us even more closely to the Chair of Peter. Basilica comes from a Greek word meaning 'hall of the King'. This is the place where our King and Savior, Christ, is worshipped," explained Bishop Guillory.
Dedicated in 1907 and renovated and restored in 2004, St. Anthony’s is an historic attraction for the city and a place of pilgrimage for the faithful.
The new status will give the cathedral the responsibility of celebrating, with greater solemnity, certain Church feast days such as the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. It will also be able to add the papal coat of arms to its artwork and sacred images.
According to the Beaumont Enterprise newspaper, following an announcement at noontime Mass on Tuesday, St. Anthony’s Monsignor Richard DiStefano said that despite the new title, the parish’s character will remain the same.
"It doesn't matter if we are a parish, a cathedral or a basilica," he told the congregation. "We have to never lose focus on who we are worshiping and that is the Lord Jesus."
Bishop Guillory called the act, “an affirmation by the Holy Father of the deep faith of the people of Southeast Texas.”
The diocese is beginning to set plans for a special celebration of the new status, though no date has been set. The cathedral will be the fourth Catholic basilica in Texas and one of more than 50 in the United States.