For those who love St. Mary Cathedral Basilica, Easter Sunday couldn’t have been any more picture perfect.
A standing-room-only packed house proudly welcomed back Texas’ mother Catholic church after it took a severe beating from Hurricane Ike nearly six years ago.
I was fortunate enough to be there for the long-awaited reopening, and the feeling was the same I had when I returned to my house for good after Ike.
After all, like others, so many precious memories have taken place in that historic downtown giant.
For me, St. Mary vividly dates back to first grade, even though I know years before I was baptized there.
Attending those daily 8 a.m. Masses and standing in the front pews with my fellow classmates, hands in upright prayer position just waiting my turn to finally receive communion for the first time from Father Dan O’Connell.
Then getting the chance to be an altar boy, serving alongside Father Dan, the man we all loved and admired and missed dearly when he unfortunately left us to be with God.
Father Dan was gone, but St. Mary Cathedral is there for life.
I would be confirmed there, married there and one day through the endless hard work of so many — but, hopefully, not any time soon — will have my last rites there.
I can’t thank those enough who were responsible for bringing my beloved church back to life.
The reality of it all emotionally hit me at the end of Mass when I ran into Deacon John Pistone, who I know from Day 1 was behind the scenes making sure the job was done — and done right.
It’s just sad to think it took a God-made disaster to finally give St. Mary the overhaul it truly deserved and needed long, long before Ike.
Somehow the bigwigs of the diocese could find money to build a $32 million cathedral in Houston next to the existing co-cathedral but couldn’t come up with the few millions it took to eventually restore St. Mary.
Here’s a church that was built in 1847 and withstood one hurricane after another, even the devastating 1900 Storm. Above the mass of destruction that dreadful September day stood the statue of Mary, her resiliency the true symbolism of Galveston’s will to survive.
I truly believe as long as Mary looks over us, the island will stand tall, too.
So, Houston, enjoy your multimillion-dollar Hilton. We now have again the Taj Mahal.
Manuel Moreno Jr. is a lifetime resident of Galveston and 1968 graduate of St. Mary’s Cathedral School.