Today, the Catholic Church throughout the world is celebrating the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

It is also an important day for the Archdiocese of Birmingham because on this day each year we celebrate Mary as a patroness of our diocese and ask for her prayers and maternal protection.

I am most grateful, therefore, to learn that the staff and students of St Thomas More Catholic School will be marking the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception with a Collective Act of Worship today.

Pope Francis reminds us that the Blessed Virgin Mary always encourages us by her example to contemplate the mystery of God in our world, in our human history and in our daily lives. So, in these days of Advent, Mary’s ‘Yes’ to God reminds us of the joy that we look forward to and that we shall celebrate at Christmas.

I thank everybody involved in this initiative and I shall keep you all in my prayers as I celebrate Mass at St Chad’s Cathedral today.

Bernard Longley

Archbishop of Birmingham