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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) –Saint Mary Catholic Church became the third basilica in the state early August and celebrated together Sunday afternoon.

”For our city it’s a great honor as well as the state,” Father Bob Kus said.

Hundreds came together for a Mass of Thanksgiving at the Basilica Shrine of Saint Mary.

“You get a spiritual uplift whenever you come into something like this and its really wonderful,” parishioner Angelo Gibilaro said.

In 2007 the church asked the Bishop to petition the Vatican for consideration of receiving the title of basilica.

The request was based on the historical importance in the diocese, its unique architectural design, and its devotion to the community.

“Throughout its history it has been known for its care to the poor and needy, for welcoming the immigrant, for welcoming the stranger and for teaching the faith,” Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh Michael Burbidge said.

The congregation was founded over 100 years ago by primarily Irish immigrants.

Father Kus said between 15 and 20 percent of the Basilica’s current parishioners have come from other countries.

“We hope that one day there’s a wonderful path to allow the families to stay together and to be citizens.” Father Kus said.

This issue is also extremely important to Bishop Burbidge.

He said he and bishops around the country are working with the president’s administration on comprehensive immigration reform.

“Let’s be mindful of what our forefathers always wanted, and that’s life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and all persons treated with respect and dignity,” Bishop Burbidge said.

A message one church-goer said embodies the every atmosphere at Saint Mary’s.

“It is like we are all one family, because to God we are all one family,” Courtney Mason.

Father Kus said the Basilica is now working on its symbol, also known as a Code of Arms.

He said the design includes a ship at sea to pay tribute to the immigrants who founded the church and the community can expect its release within the next few months.

Comment on this Story

  • AA Cunningham

    2241 The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.

    Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants’ duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens. (Catechism of the Catholic Church)

    Immigrants must obey the laws of the country they are immigrating to. That teaching of the Church is often left out of the prudential statements of many Deacons, Priests and Bishops and the staffers at the USCCB who chose to embrace the politically correct(sic) term of “undocumented immigrant”(sic). An undocumented immigrant is a legal immigrant who happens to leave home one day without his/her green card in his/her possession, which is required by law. An undocumented immigrant is not a person who is in the country illegally. That person is an illegal alien.

    Illegal aliens need to be reminded by the Church that they are criminals – committing both felonies and misdemeanors – and sinners – violating the 7th and 10th Commandments. Wanting to be an American is a noble goal provided one does it legally. The nation was indeed built by legal immigrants not by people whose crimes were enabled and condoned by the clergy.

    One should bear in mind that if Deacons, Priests and Bishops were at risk of losing their jobs to illegal aliens, as many American citizens already have, they’d be singing a much different tune.

    Also, Saint Mary is now a Minor Basilica not a Basilica.

  • Brian33

    The Catholic Church wants illegal alien amnesty for ONE reason…$$$$. More immigrants = more pews.that are filled = $$$$$. Shame on these priests for advocating law breaking and being greedy.

  • Vog46

    From a Church?
    Christ’s teachings included “tolerance” and love for all. They are still working on the tolerance part…..but Mexicans, Latinos and Hispanics are the fastest growing segment of all Christian Churches.
    You were expecting something different from them?


  • Guest2020

    Not surprising given that this is the RCC. Way to advocate criminal behavior.


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