Thursday, June 29, 2006

St James Basilica, Jamestown, To Celebrate 125 Years Of Ministry July 30

Parishioners of The Basilica of St. James in Jamestown will celebrate the 125th anniversary of the parish on July 30 at the Jamestown Civic Center with Mass beginning at 4 p.m. Bishop Samuel Aquila, bishop of Fargo, and Bishop Thomas Donato of Newark, N.J., the titular bishop of Jamestown, will preside at the Mass.

Jamestown became a parish in 1881 with the arrival of its first resident priest, Father George Hepperle. Prior to this, Mass was celebrated in homes, hotels, schoolhouses and even in a courtroom when a priest could be present. The first Mass was celebrated in the first church in Jamestown Jan. 28, 1883. The church was dedicated by Benedictine Bishop Martin Marty on May 13, 1883.

Jamestown was officially designated the See of the diocese of North Dakota on Nov. 12, 1889, and Father John Shanley was consecrated first bishop of Jamestown Dec. 27, 1889. Bishop John Shanley moved the See to Fargo in 1891.

Ground was broken May 12, 1910, for the present day church building. It was consecrated by Bishop James O’Reilly of Fargo during the pastorate of Father Edward Geraghty on Nov. 12, 1914. St. James was elevated to the status of a Minor Basilica July 23, 1989, by Pope John Paul II. St. James was the 34th church in the United States to be designated as a Minor Basilica.

Everyone is invited to come celebrate and follow in the “Faithfilled Footsteps” of The Basilica of St. James in Jamestown. A program and a free-will offering meal will follow the 4 p.m. Mass at the Jamestown Civic Center.

Other Masses that weekend will be Saturday, July 29, at 4 p.m. and Sunday, July 30, at 8:30 a.m. at the Basilica of St. James.

Those who have a special story about the Basilica and are willing to share it, please contact the Basilica at (701) 252-0119 or

For more information, call the Basilica or visit the Web site at . Fargo Diocesan News

Interesting tidbit here. Bishop Thomas Donato, an Auxiliary Bishop of Newark, NJ, is also, as is the case with all bishops, the titular Bishop of the Diocese of Jamestown that became the Diocese of Fargo in 1897 after having been a diocese only since 1889. Bismarck became North Dakota's second diocese in 1909.

I've never heard of an American "defunct" diocese being a "titular diocese" before. Normally they seem to be North African dioceses that were taken over in the seventh century in the Muslim invasions. Althought once I seem to have heard of an Irish titular diocese.

I wonder what happened in Jamestown that got Rome mad at them? Or it just may be been the fact that Bismarck was the capital of the state and the Church wanted to have a presence there. But Jamestown ended up with a basilica. Who paid for that?

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