BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The heartbeat of the Biloxi Diocese is about to get loud. Beginning Jan. 1, parishioners throughout the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish and the Biloxi Diocese will be celebrating the Cathedral's 175th anniversary.
Three of the four bishops of the 40-year-old Biloxi Diocese were at Thursday's ceremonial announcement, including the first bishop, Joseph Howze.
"It's wonderful to meditate on all the history of this parish from the beginning until this very moment," Howze said.
It's a ceremony built on faith, said current Bishop Louis Kihneman.
"Each time we celebrate Mass here, it's a time to lift up to God our prayers and all the prayers that have gone before us - 175 years of people that love God and have faith and are willing to express their faith together," he said.
The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church was consecrated as a Cathedral in 1977 with the establishment of the Diocese of Biloxi. The first church, built in 1843, was destroyed by a hurricane 1869. The second building was destroyed by fire in 1900. And what stands today is what was built in 1902.
"It's hard to believe that over 100 years ago, a very small Catholic population in what was considered a mission Diocese, that the people came up with the resources and the willingness and commitment to build a place of this size," said Bishop Roger Morin, who served as the third bishop of the Diocese.
He said the Catholic population is steadily growing.
"You're preaching God's word, you're celebrating the sacraments, and if you're having an effect and you're able to touch the lives of the people, then it's encouraging."
For parishioner and committee chair Dennis Burke, the 175th-anniversary celebration is a personal journey.
"My wife grew up in this parish. We were married in this church. Our children were baptized here and were married here," he said. "So, there's so many pieces of this church and parish that are important to all of us."
For a listing of the events celebrating the Cathedral's anniversary throughout the year, visit www.nativityBVMcathedral.org