Easter Sunday Mass marks the re-opening of St. Mary Cathedral Basilica

April 16, 2014

WHAT: Easter Sunday Mass marks the re-opening of St. Mary Cathedral Basilica
WHEN: Sunday, April 20, 2014, Noon.
WHERE: St. Mary Cathedral Basilica, 2011 Church St., Galveston
By Catherine Rogan

The “Mother Church” of Texas is ready to re-open

It’s been a long journey, but at noon this Sunday, April 20, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo will celebrate an Easter Sunday Mass marking the re-opening St. Mary Cathedral Basilica – the “Mother Church of Texas.” The historic church has been closed since September 2008 after sustaining significant damage during Hurricane Ike.

The Cathedral Basilica has endured many storms since it was built in 1847. It was one of the few Galveston landmarks to survive the Great Storm of 1900, but the damage from Hurricane Ike was so extensive that it has taken the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston almost six years to revitalize the church and make it operational again.

"The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston treasures the Cathedral Basilica, the first Cathedral built in Texas, and we wanted to ensure that it be restored to a place where all Catholics are drawn to for prayer and reflection,” said Cardinal DiNardo. “It is with great joy that we are able to re-open such a special church which also represents the beginnings of the Catholic Church in Texas.”

“Celebrating the Mass reopening the Basilica on Easter Sunday is of particular significance,” continued Cardinal DiNardo. “Easter is a time of rebirth, and this is the rebirth of our first church.”

Since November of 2009, the Cathedral Basilica has undergone years of repair to offset the ravages of time and the damage resulting from Hurricane Ike. Father Joseph Limanni, Director of Special Projects for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, worked tirelessly overseeing the restorations to the beloved church.

Fr. Limanni emphasized that there are many people and donors who have contributed along the way and says “It is through the work of so many dedicated craftspersons that the dream was able to become a reality.”

“It is thanks to them that now we can present this wonderful gift to the people of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and the fine people of Galveston,” he concluded.

As of Sunday, Father E.J. Stein will take over as pastor of the Cathedral Basilica – the centerpiece of Holy Family parish community in Galveston. Father Stein said the reopening is “a time of great joy and much festive celebration.”

“More than 150 years ago, the founders of St. Mary Cathedral found in their new spiritual home a source of reinvigoration of faith and prayer, of growth in hope in the life of God among them, and of renewed commitment to their life of charity toward all,” continued Fr. Stein. “My prayer is that all of the Catholic people of Galveston/Bolivar, of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, and of the entire State of Texas experience a similar re-invigoration as did the original founders so long ago. This is our ‘Mother Church’ and we ask our Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, for her intercession, inspiration, and prayerful guidance of our future Catholic Christian life.”

Fr. Stein concluded by saying “This Cathedral, as a Minor Basilica, helps us to assimilate into our faith lives even more deeply that we, the living stones of the Church, are bigger than ourselves, that we are joined with our Holy Father, our Cardinal Archbishop, and brothers and sisters around the whole world as one church offering continual praise and thanksgiving to God in communion with all the saints, and committed to reflect the life of Jesus in all of our daily lives."

About St. Mary Cathedral Basilica:
On May 4, 1847, Pope Pius IX named St. Mary's Cathedral as "the mother church" of the newly- established Catholic Diocese of Galveston, then the only diocese in the state of Texas. The church was one of the Galveston landmarks to survive the Great Storm of 1900. In 1968, the Cathedral was named to the National Register of Historic Places. On Aug. 2, 1979, Pope John Paul II elevated the Cathedral to a "Minor Basilica," an honor given to select churches because of their antiquity or historical importance.

The renovations of St. Mary Cathedral Basilica included:
• Replacement of the roof
• Rebuilding and refinishing of the pews and all woodworking
• Asbestos removal from the rectory and church
• Steel armature reinforcements added to the two front spires
• Refinishing of the confessionals and Stations of the Cross
• Repairs of the exterior masonry
• Silicone paint put over the stucco to prevent water from penetrating through the walls
• Replacement of old floor joists
• Construction of a crawl-space drainage system
• Interior walls stripped and venetian plaster installed
• Cleaning of statues, Tabernacle and Crucifix – they were then returned to their original location
• Installation of a decorative interior painting by artist Conrad Schmidt and a beautiful new mural
• Repairs/replacement of exterior landscaping, irrigation system, statuary and benches
• Placement of new candle-stands, Cardinal’s chair, deacon and presider chairs, alter server chairs and kneelers and a wedding kneeler
• Additions of a new sound, fire, security and CCTV systems
• Installation of new lighting on statues and in parking lot

The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston serves 1.2 million Catholics in 10 counties.
It is the largest Roman Catholic diocese in Texas and the 12th largest in the United States.
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