Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and Installation of Canons

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception took place at St Chad’s Cathedral today with around 300 people having braved a very crisp winter’s day. Archbishop Bernard Longley was the Celebrant with the Metropolitan Chapter concelebrating.

Today’s feast draws us into the mystery of God’s providential plan which became plain as it unfolded in time. The natural conception of Mary, held above the taint of original sin through the power of the Holy Spirit, reflects the very first glimmer in history of the light of the incarnation itself.

In his homily His Grace proclaims that, ‘Today we witness God’s presence in the creative love of Joachim and Anne, the parents of Our Lady.  We see God’s abiding presence in Mary herself, never separated from God by the presence of sin or selfishness.  We see in her the longing of the people of Israel for the coming of the Messiah as she accepts God’s will in her life.’

Reflecting on Blessed Cardinal Newman’s devotion to the Immaculate Conception he said, ‘The truth which today’s festival recognizes in our Lady’s life also helps to shed light on the power of God’s saving grace in our own lives.  It enables us to respond to the call of God upon each one of us: Let it be done to me according to thy word.’ 

Read the Archbishop’s homily in full  at

 Adding to the celebration of the day was the installation of two priests as Canons of the Metropolitan Chapter: The Very Rev Canon John Batthula, of the Immaculate Conception parish in Bicester, and the Very Rev Canon John Gilbert, from St Gregory’s in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, and one priest, The Rev Canon Brian McGinley, from St George’s and Our Lady Queen of Peace in Worcester,  who was made an Honorary Canon. Several schools were represented to support the event. From Canon Gilbert’s area St Thomas More Catholic Academy, St Gregory’s Catholic Academy, Our Lady’s Catholic Academy and St Maria Goretti Catholic Academy. St Mary’s Catholic Primary School came from Bicester, and St George’s Catholic Primary School and Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Primary School came from Worcester. Unfortunately, Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College Worcester were unable to make it due to the snow.

Refreshments were then enjoyed in the Grimshaw Room after Mass.

All photos ©Peter Harrington

Pic 1: L-R Canons Brian McGinley, John Batthula, John Gilbert
Pic 2: The Metropolitan Chapter of Canons with the Bishops
Pic 3: Canon John Gilbert with parishioners
Pic 4: Canon John Batthula with his brother, wife and children who travelled from Andhra Pradesh, India for the occasion.
Pic 5: Canon Brian with family


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