Father Ernst was transferred by his order to the Lawrence parish shortly before that. The new pastor at Victoria, Capuchin Father John Schmeidler, too, was excited to hear the news.
“The people really do take great pride in the church and its upkeep,” he said. “I think it’s because of their love for the church and all that it stands for.
“Being created a basilica, for them, I think, will elevate the sanctity and holiness of the church and help them to know that even better,” he added.
It’s likely to increase the number of people visiting the church, as well.
The church’s 141-foot twin towers are easily seen from nearby Interstate 70, and about 16,000 people visit it each year.
Many, of course, are tourists, but for the Catholic faithful, visiting a basilica can provide them with a plenary indulgence — the removal of all temporal punishment due for the sins committed up to that time.
“The first thing I thought of was this will get even more people interested in the church,” Father Schmeidler said.
“The real reason for doing this was for the Glory of God,” Father Ernst added. “A lot of people who visit the church are very inspired. That’s the main part of doing this, that more people would be inspired. They come to the church and sometimes they return to God because of that visit.”
Bishop Weisenburger called the designation “an incredible blessing for us all.”
“The Holy See’s designation as a basilica highlights not only the architectural and historical significance of the church but also the faith life it has nurtured for well over a century,” he said. “I would add too that in honoring this beloved church, an honor is likewise extended to those who sacrificed for its construction and upkeep through the years.”