St. Mary of the Assumption formally became the third minor basilica in Ohio and one of 76 in the United States during an inaugural Mass at the Marietta church Tuesday.
The church was filled for the celebration, which drew an estimated 1,000 people.
In his homily during the inaugural Mass, The Most Rev. Jeffrey M. Monforton, Bishop of Steubenville, said the news of the basilica designation came to him on July 17 after four years of work by his predecessor as bishop, The Most Rev. Daniel Conlon and The Rev. Monsignor John Michael Campbell, rector of the basilica.
Monforton said along with the dignity of being a basilica, The Basilica of St. Mary of the Assumption has a responsibility to further the message in the community and to be a place for special liturgical celebrations and pastoral outreach to all.
"This evening we hear with our own ears St. Peter's proclamation that Jesus Christ is the son of God, a truth St. Mary already knew," he said. "Are you not willing to take this truth outside the sacred walls of this basilica to a world desirous and hungry for the good news.
"Are you and I willing to promote the truth of our faith and assist our Holy Father, Pope Francis, in his apostolic work?"
In closing Monforton said the parish today should reflect on the past work of the parish as it goes forward.
"On this night we remember before the Lord, all of those whose past and present labors and struggles have won the recognition of Pope Francis in his designation of this parish church as a basilica," he said.
Konna Huck of Marietta, a 50-year member of the church, said it was a proud moment in the history of the church.
"We are proud of what our monsignor is doing to make us a basilica," she said. "It's really an honor."
A man who came from Athens for the Mass said it was an honor for the area to have a parish designated as a basilica.
"It's pretty awesome," said Scott Carson of Athens. "There aren't many of these in the whole world, only a thousand or so. It's really special to have one here in our diocese.
"It's a very historical place and gives us contact with the generations before us and helps us keep in contact with the generations to come, a special place and to be a Christian community together and it's very exciting."
Don Mallett of Marietta said the designation is an honor for the parish and the community.
"It's a great honor," he said. "Monsignor Campbell has done a fantastic job in getting this organized."
"It a very, very holy place and he (Campbell) has worked very, very hard to get the recognition," said Susan Mallett.
There are only two other minor basilicas in the state of Ohio. The Basilica of St. John the Baptist, Canton, was made a minor basilica in 2012. It claims to be the oldest Catholic parish in northeastern Ohio. The second minor basilica is the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey.