Ministry

Ministry of the Basilica of the Assumption Historic Trust

 

The Basilica of the Assumption Historic Trust was incorporated on April 1, 1976, and charged with the mission to maintain, preserve, protect, repair, and restore all structures and property at the site known as the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Cathedral and Mulberry Streets, Baltimore, Maryland, 21201, which also includes the Archbishop of Baltimore’s Residence.

Past supporters of the Trust helped restore the Baltimore Basilica to its original grandeur.  Today, the Trust’s mission is to preserve the Basilica for generations to come. 

The Board

Board of Trustees

 

The Board of Trustees manages the affairs, property, and assets of the Basilica of the Assumption Historic Trust. Each Trustee initially holds office for three years. The Board of Trustees facilitates investments for the maintenance, preservation, protection, repair, and restoration of the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Most Reverend William E. Lori

Chairman – Baltimore, MD

Mr. Tyler Tate P.E., LEED AP

Treasurer – Owings Mills, MD

Mr. Abiodun Babs Shonaiya

Trustee – Clarksville, MD

Mrs. Stephanie Clancy

President – Towson, MD

Most Rev. Denis J. Madden

Trustee – Baltimore, MD

Prof. Duncan G. Stroik

Trustee – South Bend, IN

Reverend Brendan Fitzgerald

Secretary – Baltimore, MD

Mrs. Sandy Murphy

Trustee – San Diego, CA

Mr. George Weigel

Trustee – Washington, D.C.

Deacon Sean P. Keller

Vice President – Clarkesville, MD

Mr. Malvin A. Pavik

Trustee – Lutherville, MD / Bonita Springs, FL

H.E. Michael Ruck

Trustee Emeritus – Towson, MD

Support

 

Support the Basilica of the Assumption Historic Trust

To fulfill its ministry, the Trust needs your financial support! 

Gifts to the Annual Fund underwrite the costs of current repairs and maintenance, including, but not limited to, architectural repairs, restorations, preservations, and programs to foster and promote public knowledge of and interest in the historic nature of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As of today, there are several necessary repairs underway, including the roof replacement, door restoration project, and basement renovation. 

You can support the Basilica of the Assumption Trust by making a tax-deductible donation. Mail your gift to:

Basilica of the Assumption Historic Trust

320 Cathedral Street

Baltimore, MD 21201

Donations to the Trust Endowment are legacy gifts.   The investment income generated by the Endowment supports the Basilica in perpetuity. The Board of Trustees expends the investment income generated by these funds to maintain, preserve, protect, repair, and restore all structures on the campus of the  Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Your gift to the Basilica of the Assumption History Trust helps preserve America’s First Catholic Cathedral for generations to come.  

Custodians

The Custodians of America’s First Catholic Cathedral

In March of 2022, the Board of Trustees of the Basilica of the Assumption Historic Trust created the Custodians of America’s First Catholic Cathedral. 

The Custodians are individuals or couples who contribute a gift of at least $25,000 to the endowment of the Basilica of the Assumption Historic Trust. By their gift, Custodians make an investment into the ministry of the Trust in its sole mission of maintaining, preserving, protecting, repairing, and restoring America’s First Catholic Cathedral.  

The investment income generated annually by the endowment of the Basilica of the Assumption Historic Trust allows the Board of Trustees to respond to the current and future needs of the Basilica. As the endowment grows, so does the annual investment income. There are four levels of Custodians:

Legacy Custodian

Gift over $250,000

Gold Custodian

Gift over $100,000

Silver Custodian

Gift over $50,000

Bronze Custodian

Gift over $25,000

*Pledges are paid over a period of up to 5-years. Custodians can elevate their support level by adding to an already existing gift or pledge.

An annual Custodians Reception will be held at the Residence of the Archbishop of Baltimore or another location as deemed appropriate to welcome new members and to celebrate the work of the Basilica of the Assumption Historic Trust. In addition, Custodians are recognized at all Basilica of the Assumption Historic Trust events.

The title Honorary Custodian can be bestowed by resolution of the  Board of Trustees upon individuals or couples who have generously supported the work of the Basilica of the Assumption Historic Trust.

New Custodians will be welcomed at a reception at the residence of The Most Reverend William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore Fall of  2022. 

To further inquire about joining the Custodians, please contact John Schlageter at 202-230-4316. Gifts can be mailed to Basilica of the Assumption Historic Trust 320 Cathedral Street Baltimore, MD 21201.

 

History

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

 

The historic Baltimore Basilica, built from 1806 to 1821, was the first great metropolitan cathedral constructed in the United States after the adoption of the Constitution. America’s First Cathedral, officially known as the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, quickly became a symbol of the country’s newfound religious freedom. Two prominent Americans guided the Basilica’s design and architecture: John Carroll, the country’s first bishop, later Archbishop of Baltimore, and cousin of Charles Carroll, a signer of the Declaration of Independence; and Benjamin Henry Latrobe, father of American architecture, and Thomas Jefferson’s Architect of the Capitol. 

For more than 100 years until the American Revolution, the Catholic Church consisted of a persecuted but devout minority. With the adoption of the new Constitution, Church leaders wanted to build a cathedral to celebrate their newly acquired right to worship publicly. Bishop Carroll eschewed the popular Gothic Revival and adopted the neoclassical (romantic classicism) architecture of the new federal city in Washington. He wanted an architectural symbol for the Catholic Church in this new republic that was uniquely considered “American.”

Learning of Bishop Carroll’s effort, Latrobe volunteered his architectural services. President Jefferson’s insistence on skylights for the U.S. Capitol inspired Latrobe and his Cathedral’s grand dome design. The Basilica, which culminated years of architectural refinement by Latrobe, is now considered one of the world’s finest examples of 19th-century architecture.

“When the Cathedral was first constructed, the only building that could compete with it in size, scale, and architectural sophistication was the United States Capitol,” said Jack Waite, Principal Architect with John G. Waite Associates, Architects. “Architecturally, it was the most advanced building in the country.”

Situated majestically on a hill above Baltimore Harbor, the historic Basilica was the center of the country’s first archdiocese, from which two-thirds of U.S. Catholic dioceses can trace their heritage. Under its auspices also came a series of other firsts, including the first order of African-American Religious, the Oblate Sisters of Providence, founded by Mother Mary Lange.

Once construction was complete, the Basilica began a distinguished history that continues today. In 1829, the First Provincial Council of Baltimore, held at the Basilica, asserted the need for Catholic schools.

Six other Provincial Councils and Three Plenary Councils followed, guiding the Church as the country moved westward, and its Catholic population increased with new immigrants. The First Plenary Council in 1852 extended the legislation of the Seven Provincial Councils to the entire country. Following the American Civil War, the Second Plenary Council in 1866, whose guests included President Andrew Johnson, achieved peace for the Church and called for the evangelization of Native and African-Americans. The Third Plenary Council, the largest meeting of Catholic Bishops held outside of Rome since the Council of Trent (December 13, 1545-December 4, 1563), commissioned the famous Baltimore Catechism, which taught generations of Catholics the basics of their faith. Father Michael J. McGivney, the founder of the Knights of Columbus, was ordained at the Basilica in 1877.

In April 1906, the Baltimore community celebrated the 100th anniversary of laying the Cathedral’s cornerstone with a Pontifical Mass celebrated by James Cardinal Gibbons. Pope Pius XI raised the Cathedral to the rank of a Minor Basilica in 1937; in 1972, the Basilica was designated a National Landmark.

On April 1st, 1976, Most Reverend William D. Borders, Archbishop of Baltimore, incorporated the Basilica of the Assumption Historic Trust to maintain, preserve, protect, repair, and restore all structures and property at the site known as the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In 1993, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops designated the Cathedral a National Shrine. “No other Catholic edifice in America can claim to have seen so much history made inside its walls,” observed George Weigel, acclaimed biographer of Pope John Paul II and NBC News Vatican analyst. Since 1976, the Basilica has hosted visits by Pope Saint John Paul II, Saint Teresa of Calcutta, and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople. Today, the Basilica focuses on a diverse and revitalized neighborhood, the Mount Vernon Cultural District.

In 2001, under the leadership of Cardinal William H. Keeler, 14th Archbishop of Baltimore, the Basilica of the Assumption Historic Trust launched a campaign to restore the neglected Basilica to Latrobe’s original vision. The restoration included providing public access to the Archbishop’s crypt; the construction of a Chapel in the undercroft; incorporation of the Basilica Museum; handicap accessibility to the entire Basilica; a complete overhaul of the Basilica’s infrastructure; and much, much more.