From the Archdiocese of Hartford Website:
Initially, the first Waterbury Catholics were the mission responsibility of Hartford’s Father James Fitton. Pastoral jurisdiction then passed to the care of New Haven. In 1845, the Catholics rented Washington Hall at the corner of Exchange Place and West Main Street. On November 1, 1847, the mission was created a parish initially under the patronage of St. Peter, with Father Michael O’Neil named first pastor. A vacated Episcopal church was purchased and moved to a location on East Main Street, opening for Mass on Christmas Day 1847. On July 5, 1857, the cornerstone of a new church was blessed and dedicated in December by Bishop Francis P. McFarland. St. Peter’s was renamed to honor the recently proclaimed dogma of the Immaculate Conception. In 1863, the pastor converted the old church into a parochial school, staffed by laymen and women. Father John A. Mulcahy built St. Mary School, dedicated on September 4, 1888 by Bishop Lawrence S. McMahon and staffed by the Sisters of Charity. In 1907, Father William J. Slocum organized the initiative to build St. Mary Hospital, the cornerstone of which was blessed on September 22 by Bishop Michael A. Tierney. Father William McGurk chaired the citywide committee of Catholic clergy and laymen to build Waterbury Catholic High School, which opened in 1926. He also undertook the construction of a new church, which was dedicated on May 20, 1928, by Bishop John J. Nilan.
The Title of Minor Basilica
In 2008, under the pastoral care of Rev. John Bevins the title minor basilica was conferred upon the Church of The Immaculate Conception by the authority of the Holy Father entrusted to the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. The bestowal of the title initiated a very particular bond between the church and the Holy Father and set the church apart in rank from other churches. While the principal church of the Archdiocese of Hartford is the Cathedral of Saint Joseph, where the cathredra is found, the chair of the Archbishop and sign of his teaching office, the basilica ranks after the cathedral as a church of great distinction. The title minor basilica distinguishes the church in rank from the few churches in the world that bear the title major basilica.
Minor Basilica Proclamation
From the office of the congregation for divine worship and the discipline of the sacrament. -February 9, 2008
At the request of His Excellency, the Most Reverend Henry Joseph Mansell, Archbishop of Hartford, in his letter dated December 8, 2006, prompted by the prayers and requests of the clergy and the faithful, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacrament, in virtue of special faculties given by the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI, gladly bestows on the parish church dedicated to God in honor of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Waterbury the title and dignity of a Minor Basilica, with all the laws and liturgical rites faithfully observed according to the Decree:“DE TITULO BASILICAE MINORIS”, promulgated on the ninth of November 1989. Anything to the contrary not withstanding.
Spiritual Privileges for Visitors
The bestowal of the title of minor basilica initiated a very particular bond between the church and the Holy Father and set the church apart in rank from other churches. White the principal church of the Archdiocese of Hartford is the Cathedral of Saint Joseph, where the cathedra is found, the chair of the Archbishop and sign of his teaching office, the Basilica ranks after the Cathedral as a church of great distinction.
Spiritual benefits are attached to the designation of a church as a minor basilica. All Catholics who are properly disposed may seek a plenary indulgence by visiting the Basilica on specified days and by fulfilling the conditions that are required.
A plenary indulgence may be gained on the following days by visiting the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.
February 9 Date of concession of the title Minor Basilica in 2008
May 20 Date of the dedication, in 1928, of the Church of the Immaculate Conception
June 29 The Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul
August 14 Death in 1890 Father Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus
December 8 Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Visitors may select one day each year to seek a plenary indulgence.
An indulgence is a favor granted to an individual by the Church through the merits of Christ that removes, either partially or completely (plenary), the temporal punishment that remains for sins that have been forgiven. Indulgences do not remove sin, that is, the guilt of sin. Serious sin that has been confessed to a priest with sincere contrition and a resolve to sin no more, is forgiven in the Sacrament of Penance. This sacrament also removes the eternal punishment that such a grave offense against God would merit. But, once forgiven, the wounds and effects of our sins remain and block the full action of the Holy Spirit within us. The Church teaches that we must undergo temporal punishment in this life or after death, in Purgatory, to remove the effects of sin and prepare us for eternal happiness with God in heaven. Temporal punishment may be removed now by voluntarily uniting our sufferings in this life with those of Christ and by our prayer and acts of charity. Temporal punishment also may be diminished or removed a by partial or plenary indulgence.
Who can gain an indulgence?
Catholics in full communion with the Church, may obtain a plenary indulgence once a day for themselves or for a soul in purgatory by carrying out a specified act of devotion with sincerity and in accord with the conditions set by the Church. Those who seek an indulgence must be earnestly striving to eliminate all attachment to sin, whether mortal or venial.
The act of devotion required to obtain the plenary indulgence attached to this Basilica on the days specified may be a devout visit to the Basilica with recitation of the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed. In addition, the visit may include: Mass, Benediction, Liturgy of the Hours, Stations of the Cross, the Rosary or another devotion the Blessed Virgin Mary, a period of adoration and meditation before the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reposed in the tabernacle of another pious action.
The three conditions to be fulfilled:
- Sacramental Confession within 20 days prior to or following the day the indulgence is sought
- Reception of Holy Communion, preferably on the day the indulgence is sought
- Prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father on the day the indulgence is sought.This might be an Our Father and Hail Mary or other preferred prayers.