A Roman Catholic Church in Olean has been designated as a 'basilica' by Pope Francis. St. Mary of the Angels Church has been granted what is considered a 'rare' honor. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley spoke with the church's Pastor Rev. Greg Dobson about the process.
Neo-Gothic church built back in 1915 has very historic significance.
"For the people of this community to be honored by the Holy Father -- to have our church be recognized on an international level is just absolutely wonderful," remarked Father Dobson.
Pope Francis signed a decree last month declaring the church a "minor basilica", the third in the Diocese of Buffalo along with Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna and Our Lady of Fatima Shrine in Lewiston.
"It has spectacular windows," said Dobson. "It has a high, decorated ceiling and gorgeous windows and all sorts of gorgeous accessories. So when we say basilica it means Nobel house."
This church has significant parallels with OLV and the Venerable Father Nelson Baker both churches were commissioned under the same architect.
"The same architect designed Our Lady of Victory and designed ours. His name was Emile Ulrich," explained Dobson. "He met Father Baker here. Monsignor Baker officiated at the opening ceremony."
"A lot of significant people in the church, like Thomas Merton, a professor at St. Bonaventure University and he would come to our church and pray," noted Dobson. "Every day we pray for Father Baker's beatification in this church, so this is a place really connected to Father Baker and Our Lady of Victor Basilica."
Bishop Richard Malone will celebrate a special Mass at the church in June 29th. The church's name will become The Basilica of St. Mary of the Angles.