On December 8, 2014, Our Lady Immaculate was given the designation of Minor Basilica. This honour was bestowed by Pope Francis. Bishop Douglas Crosby celebrated the Mass commemorating the granting of this title on June 29th, 2015, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.
Churches that have particular importance for liturgical and pastoral life are given the title of Minor Basilica, signifying their link with the Roman Church and the Pope. The ceremony celebrating this designation involves the reception of the Ombrellino (umbrella) and Tintinnabulum (bell), and a new Coat-of-Arms.
Correspondence from Rev. John Holzer, S.J. to His Lordship the Bishop of Hamilton, Bishop John Farrell, Guelph, May 28, 1857
This letter from Fr. Holzer to Bishop Farrell outlines the activities of the parish. The message begins with an explanation of Fr. Holzer’s recent visit to Montreal to see the Superior General of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). He had gone to appeal to his Superior for more priests to meet the needs of the vast Guelph region. The scarcity of priests was taking its toll, as Fr. Holzer states, “We are killed one by one, unless the Superiors help us at once.” Fr. Holzer then outlines the Superior General’s plan to appoint new priests. He also discusses financial matters and provides information about the Guelph convent run by the Sisters of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Loretto Sisters).
Rev. John Holzer was the first Jesuit priest to serve the Guelph area. His pastorate marked the beginning of 80 years of care for the parish by Jesuit priests. In 1864, the strenuous work of a missionary priest led to a stroke and ended his tenure in Guelph. He died in Washington, D.C. on April 23, 1888; just short of the opening of Our Lady Immaculate on October 10, 1888.