An unfulfilled appointment

Bishop Matthew Brodie died on 11 October 1943.  In January 1944 Pope Pius XII appointed Rt Rev Monsignor William J Ormond, Parish Priest of St Benedict’s parish, Newton in the diocese of Auckland, as Bishop Brodie’s successor.

Rt Reverend William Ormond

Telegram received by Monsignor Kennedy, Vicar Capitular of the Christchurch Diocese from the Apostolic delegate of Sydney Archbishop John Panico
[CDCA Archives Reference: Bishop Lyons uncatalogued papers]

Born in Wesport, on the West Coast, to Irish parents in 1882, Monsignor Ormond studied for the priesthood in Ireland and Rome, where he was ordained in 1908. He returned to New Zealand and worked in parishes in Gisborne and Auckland.  In 1914 he became the first secretary to the newly established Australian Apostolic Delegation, under Cardinal Cerretti. Seven years later he returned to Auckland to work in St Benedict’s Parish for the Coadjutor Bishop Liston. After the death of Bishop Henry Cleary, in 1929, Monsignor Ormond became parish priest of St Benedict’s.

A good friend of Bishop Liston’s, he described Mons Ormond as

“ideal in his own personal life, in his parish, in his relations with his fellow priests and his bishop. In his dealings with his colleagues in the diocese Monsignor Ormond was ever the same – kindly, obliging, charitable in word and deed, hospitable, generous with a friendly welcome for all – and ever an example in priestly virtues and ways”

Within a week of his appointment, it was reported that Monsignor Ormond was indisposed and acting on medical advice was taking complete rest. In fact, the responsibilities in becoming bishop had overwhelmed him.

Extract from The Auckland Star, 1 February 1944

Doctors advised Bishop Liston that Monsignor Ormond would not cope if forced to take over the duties in Christchurch and in March Apostolic Delegate Panico released him from the episcopal appointment and appointed Rt Rev Monsignor Patrick Lyons, Vicar General to the Archdiocese of Melbourne, in his place.

Extract from the Evening Post, 1 April 1944

Bishop Lyons was ordained bishop in Melbourne Cathedral on 2 July 1944 by Cardinal Van Rossum CSSR, being formally installed as bishop of Christchurch on 6 August 1944.

Monsignor Ormond remained parish priest at St Benedict’s Parish until his death in 1949, following continued illness.


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