July 15, 2020  |  By:   |  Press Releases  |  

–Mission San Buenaventura is First in L.A Archdiocese to Hold Title of Minor Basilica– 

Archbishop José H. Gomez announced today that the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has granted the title of Minor Basilica to Mission San Buenaventura located at 211 East Main Street in Ventura, California. The title is given to churches around the world to denote a particular importance in liturgical and pastoral life and a closer relationship with the Pope. The title of Major Basilica is reserved to churches in Rome.

“When the Pope designates a basilica, it means this is holy ground. Something beautiful and important in the history of salvation happened here,” said Archbishop Gomez. “A basilica is a place where the mercy of God has been proclaimed in the name of Jesus Christ. It is a place where sinners have been saved and saints have been made, and the Kingdom of God has moved forward.”

In May 2014, Fr. Thomas Elewaut, pastor of Mission San Buenaventura since 2011, with permission from Archbishop Gomez requested that the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments grant the title to the church at Mission San Buenaventura. The church at Mission San Buenaventura is the second oldest house of worship in the three counties comprising the Archdiocese of Los Angeles – Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara. The founding of San Buenaventura Mission traces to the decision on Palm Sunday, March 30, 1749 by the Franciscan priest Junípero Serra to journey to the new world as a missionary. The canonization of Fr. Serra was celebrated by the parish community at the Mission 266 years later in November 2015.

“Archbishop Gomez notified me on the eve of St. Junípero Serra’s feast day, July 1, that Mission San Buenaventura is elevated to a Minor Basilica. On behalf of our parishioners, I am most grateful to His Holiness, Pope Francis for this recognition and to Archbishop Gomez for his unwavering support for this petition which began in 2014,” said Fr. Elewaut. “This is truly a joyous occasion for our parish – an honor that stretches beyond the Mission even beyond the Archdiocese – as well as our city and county and a worthy way to celebrate the feast day of St. Bonaventure today.”

Founded on Easter Sunday, March 31, 1782, Mission San Buenaventura is the ninth and last of St. Junípero Serra’s missionary foundations along El Camino Real. Mission San Buenaventura is now one of 88 churches in the United States – and first in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to hold the title of Minor Basilica.

“I am absolutely delighted that the Mission Church of San Buenaventura is being designated a minor basilica,” said Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron for the Santa Barbara Pastoral Region of the Archdiocese. “This is a tribute to our great Archdiocese of Los Angeles and an acknowledgement of the splendid evangelical work that has taken place at the mission for over two hundred years. May God be praised!”

The announcement was made today, the Feast of St. Bonaventure, before daily Mass at the Mission garden celebrated by Archbishop Gomez with Auxiliary Bishop Barron, Fr. Elewaut and Fr. Leon Hutton, pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Ventura. Due to COVID-19 pandemic gathering restrictions, the Mass was celebrated in the Mission garden and livestreamed at https://www.facebook.com/sanbuenaventuramission.

Mission San Buenaventura remains an active Catholic parish serving approximately 1,400 families as well as a pilgrimage center which thousands of visitors come to annually. The Museum and Archival Center for Mission San Buenaventura chronical the rich history of the founding of the mission and development of the local area. The artifacts and documents are substantial as well as a library collection of major publications on the life of St. Junípero Serra and the founding of the 21 California Missions.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles is the largest and most diverse Archdiocese in the United States with approximately five million Catholics.

For additional information about today’s announcement please visit, https://angelusnews.com/local/la-catholics/always-forward-mission-san-buenaventura-gets-a-papal-upgrade/.

B-roll footage of the Mission San Buenaventura is available at https://youtu.be/U3ZvcQwsZBo.