The Society had its foundations in 1957 and 1958. The idea dated from 1957 but the working body began in 1958. In consequence, it was decided to celebrate the Golden Jubilee between 2007 and 2008.
As a result the celebrations fittingly started at the AGM in 2007 when the elections took place at the Conference at Gateshead; and the presidency changed in the May of 2007. Father John Conneely had been President for two terms of office; and Monsignor David Hogan was elected as President in his place. The new President welcomed the year of celebrations; and at the special Mass on the occasion of the AGM he celebrated with past Presidents who were present.
The next Jubilee event was the Mass of the Holy Spirit celebrated by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor in Westminster Cathedral. This took place on Wednesday, 24 October 2007. Concelebrants with the Cardinal were Episcopal representatives from the whole of the Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland (pictured on the cover). They were Bishop John McAreavey (Dromore), Michael Smith (Meath), Peter Doyle (Northampton), John Cunningham (Galloway) and John Arnold (Auxiliary of Westminster).
The homily was given by Bishop John Arnold. He rehearsed very briefly the beginnings of the Society; and then gave a fine comment on the role of Canon Law in the Church; and the parts played by Canon Lawyers; and he was able to point to the Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland as having made a most important contribution to the pastoral and jurisprudential life of the Church. The occasion was also honoured by a Papal Blessing which was read at the Mass by the President, Monsignor David Hogan.
By courtesy and kind permission of the Cardinal, a reception was held after the Mass in the Throne Room of Archbishop’s House. All the priests attending joined the reception together with a sprinkling of Sisters and laity all members of the Society; as well as one or two guests who have been helpers of the Society during its history, especially those involved in the Society’s publications, Canon Law Abstracts, Canon Law Society newsletter and Matrimonial Decisions for Great Britain and Ireland. The next gathering of the Society to concluded these celebrations will take place in May 2008 in Rome.