Granting the title 'Basilica' is a special papal recognition for churches that have played an important role in the proclamation of the Gospel Message in the liturgy and the life of its members. The decree from Rome, Italy was issued from the Holy See on August 27, 1998. It became official on Sunday, October 3, 1999 which is now the Anniversary of the Dedication.
The decree by Angelus Cardinal Sodano states: "It has come to our attention that the Parish Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, designed and built in the Gothic style of architecture, and has been recognized as a center of spiritual life, pastoral care, love and ecumenical inspiration deserves to be classified among edifices worthy of note in the Diocese of Syracuse, New York. Since, therefore, our Venerable Brother Joseph O'Keefe, Bishop of Syracuse by his letter on behalf of the clergy and people has requested us to dignify the aforesaid holy place with the title and rank of Minor Basilica.
Therefore, with regard to the decision of the Congregation concerned with Divine Liturgy and the Discipline of the Sacraments, we do dignify irrevocably by the authority of this Letter Patent the parish we have identified above with the title and dignity of Minor Basilica with all rights and special provisions for divine services in accordance with the Decree on the Naming of Minor Basilicas. This Epistle has been issued in Rome, Italy at the See of Saint Peter, sealed with the ring of Fisherman - August, 27, 1998, the 20th year of our Pontificate."
Bishop Moynihan in his letter of congratulations said, "The granting of this title 'Basilica' is a testimony from Rome, Italy, to the faith of all the Polish-American communities in our diocese. It is in our Catholic faith that we find unity and our common mission. May the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus be a place of blessings and faith to all who enter here to pray."
WHAT IS A BASILICA?
The word basilica can indicate either the architectural style of a church, or its canonical status.
In architecture, the term basilica signifies kingly and secondarily a beautiful hall. Many of the ancient ones are the shape of a parallelogram in which the width was not greater than the length, with porticos on the short sides and columns down the middle.
The word basilica means "The House of Kings" and rightly so because of the great faith our people manifested in all that we do to build up the Kingdom of God on earth.