S.C. (CNS) -- A new era and a distinguished new title has come to St. Peter
Church in downtown Columbia.
was announced June 24 that the historic house of worship will now be known
as the Basilica of St. Peter. It is the first minor basilica in South Carolina
and the 85th in the United States.
announcement came before packed pews at the 11 a.m. Mass, which was celebrated
by Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone of Charleston. The news had added significance
because it was the feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, the
patron saint of the statewide diocese.
Gary Linsky, pastor at St. Peter, read aloud the official declaration from the
Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.
are only four major basilicas, all in Rome -- St. Peter's, St. John Lateran,
St. Paul Outside the Walls and St. Mary Major. Minor basilicas are located both
in Rome and around the world. Churches given that title must be of historical,
artistic and architectural importance, and have significance as a center of
Peter is a church of history and beauty, a place where liturgy is celebrated
well and a center of all sorts of outreach," Bishop Guglielmone said in his
homily. "The honor of being named a basilica is an indication that this church
is in very strong communion with the Holy Father."
idea of seeking the designation of basilica was first proposed in late 2016 by
Mark Husey, former music director at the parish.
parishioners, Darryl Williams and William Neglia, helped with the research and
extensive documentation that was needed; Father Renaurd West assisted with
translating the application materials from Latin into English. Father Linsky
said there were 117 specific questions that needed to be answered.
entire process took about 18 months, which is unusually quick by Vatican
standards, Father Linsky said.
is an overwhelming sense of awe at the honor we have received from Rome, and
now that honor brings with it great responsibility," Father Linsky said after
the Mass in an interview with The Catholic Miscellany, Charleston's diocesan
has blessed us and we have done great things here, but now we must build for
the future," he added. "Our overarching responsibility now is to build the
kingdom of God here, build the faith of those who worship here and maintain the
vibrancy here at St. Peter."
Peter was established in 1821 when Bishop John England sent Father Dennis
Corkery to Columbia to minister to Irish laborers who were building the
Columbia Canal. Construction of the original church started in 1824, and that
building survived the burning of Columbia during the Civil War. The current
church was built in 1907.
Peter is the only church in the Southeast, aside from one in Miami, to have
hosted a papal visit. St. John Paul II visited the parish for an ecumenical
prayer service during his trip to Columbia in September 1987.