Ordinations of Bishops to the Christchurch Diocese

Bishops are appointed by the Holy Father. The pastoral care of a diocese is entrusted to a Diocesan Bishop, with the cooperation of the priests of the diocese.  On 3 March 2018 Bishop Elect Paul Martin SM will be ordained to the Christchurch episcopy as the Tenth Bishop of Christchurch.  As the Diocese looks forward to Bishop Paul’s tenure, it is an opportune time to look back at the ordinations of his predecessors through the extant archives.

Bishop John Joseph Grimes

Bishop John Joseph Grimes SM was appointed to the newly created diocese of Christchurch and his consecration as Bishop was performed by the Bishop of Salford, Bishop Vaughan, in St Anne’s Church in London’s East End on 26 July 1887. He arrived in the diocese on 1 February 1888 and was welcomed by his new diocese the following day at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, Barbadoes St.

Very little has survived among the Bishop Grimes Papers about his ordination. However, here is a diary entry from May 1887 referring to the announcement of his appointment to the Christchurch diocese [7 May 1887 Tablet announces my nomination by the Holy See to the new diocese of Christchurch, N Zealand] and a visit to his friend Bishop Vaughan [17 May Called to Bishop Vaughan … said if he were the Pope he would make me accept but as Bishop of Plymouth would like to keep me here ].

Newspaper reports give some indication of the reception Bishop Grimes received arriving in Christchurch. Here is an extract from The Lyttelton Times 2 February 1888 regarding the reception of Bishop Grimes in Christchurch on 2 February 1888 (courtesy of Papers Past  https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/lyttelton-times/1888/2/2/5)

Bishop Matthew Brodie

On 6 December 1915 Bishop Matthew Joseph Brodie was appointed Bishop of the Christchurch Diocese following the death of Bishop Grimes on 11 March earlier that year.  Bishop Brodie was the first New Zealander to be appointed to a New Zealand episcopy.

A telegram, among his uncatalogued papers, announces the appointment.

The consecration of Bishop Brodie, by His Excellency the Apostolic Delegate, the Most Reverend Archbishop Ceretti, took place on 27 February 1916 at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.

Invitation to the Consecration of the Right Reverend Monsignor Brodie

Order of Ceremonies from the consecration 27 Feb 1916
[Archives Reference: CDCA 20108.17 Bishop Brodie Papers]

Bishop Patrick Lyons

Following the death of Bishop Brodie on 11 October 1943, Bishop Patrick Lyons was appointed by Pope Pius XII the third Bishop of Christchurch, on 16 March 1944.

This telegram to Monsignor Kennedy confirms his ordination was to take place in Melbourne. [Archives Reference: CDCA 2018.19 Bishop Lyons Papers].

Bishop Lyons was consecrated on 2 July 1944 by Archbishop Mannix, with Bishop Hugh O’Neill of Dunedin and Archbishop Matthew Beovich of Adelaide serving as co-consecrators in St Patrick’s Cathedral Melbourne.

His enthronement at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament took place the following month, on 6 August 1944, followed by a public reception to welcome him the next day.

[Archives Reference: CDCA 2018.19 Bishop Lyons Papers]

Bishop Edward Joyce

Bishop Lyons remained in Christchurch for six years and was then appointed Auxilliary Bishop of Sydney.  The fourth Bishop of Christchurch, Bishop Edward Joyce was appointed by Pope Pius XII on 18 April 1950 and died in office on 28 January 1964. Bishop Joyce was the first priest from within the Christchurch diocese to become Bishop.

The archives from his ordination day are more plentiful.

Among the early incoming correspondence to the then Bishop Elect is this congratulatory letter from the Mayor of Christchurch Ernest Andrews. [Archives Reference: CDCA 2018.24 Bishop Joyce Papers]

We hold a number of photographs from his ordination in our collection.

[ Archives Reference: CDCA Photographic Collection #146]

 [ Archives Reference: CDCA Photographic Collection #145]

This is the only surviving invitation to the ordination found among the Bishop Joyce Collection .

Here is the programme for the public reception to welcome the new bishop, held at the Theatre Royal on 17 July 1950.

[Archives Reference: CDCA 20018.24 Bishop Joyce Papers]

Bishop Brian Ashby

Bishop Ashby was the fifth Bishop of Christchurch.  He was appointed by Pope Paul VI on 11 July 1964, and resigned the see on 4 July 1985.

Bishop Ashby’s Papers contain very detailed planning for the ordination ceremony including this list of duties for the Altar Servers for the ceremony.

Invitation to the Ordination of Bishop Ashby on Wednesday, 5 August 1964 at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.

[Archives Reference: CDCA 2018.25 Bishop Ashby Papers]

[ Archives Reference: CDCA Photographic Collection #1734]

[ Archives Reference: CDCA Photographic Collection #1730]

These gold and silver sets of bread and wine, bearing the crest of Bishop Ashby, were used in his ordination.

Bishop Denis Hanrahan

Bishop Hanrahan was appointed coadjutor bishop of Christchurch 25 March 1984 to assist Bishop Ashby in his duties and ordained on 6 June 1984 by Bishop Ashby, Archbishop Magnoni and Cardinal Williams. A Coadjutor Bishop automatically succeeds the diocesan bishop on their departure or retirement.

Among Bishop Hanrahan’s surviving papers are the official invitation to his consecration as bishop of Christchurch, at the Town Hall on 6 June 1984.

A booklet and ticket for the occasion is also among the papers.

[Archives Reference: CDCA 2018.28 Bishop Hanrahan Papers]

Bishop Ashby gives Bishop Hanrahan his staff.
[ Archives Reference: CDCA Photographic Collection #3754  The Star Newspaper 1984]

Bishop Hanrahan was formally installed at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament as the Sixth Bishop of Christchurch the following year on  5 August 1985.

[Archives Reference: CDCA 2018.28 Bishop Hanrahan Papers]

Bishop Basil Meeking

Following the sudden death of Bishop Hanrahan on 1 February 1987, Bishop Basil Meeking was ordained as Bishop of Christchurch on 3 June 1987 – the year of the Diocesan Centenary.

[ Archives Reference: CDCA Photographic Collection #1583]

[ Archives Reference: CDCA 2018.26 Bishop Meeking Papers]

Bishop John Cunneen

Bishop Cunneen was ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Christchurch on 30 November 1992 at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. An Auxiliary Bishop is one assigned to assist the Diocesan Bishop in meeting the needs of the diocese, similar to a coadjutor bishop.  Auxiliary bishops are titular bishops of sees that no longer exist, but do not hold the right of succession of a Coadjutor Bishop. On the retirement of Bishop Basil, Bishop Cunneen was installed as the eighth bishop of Christchurch on 15 December 1995.

[ Archives Reference: CDCA Photographic Collection #3268]

[ Archives Reference: CDCA 2018.29 Bishop Cunneen papers

Bishop Barry Jones

On 4 October 2006 Bishop Jones was ordained Coadjutor Bishop of Christchurch, assisting Bishop Cunneen in his pastoral and administrative duties.  On Bishop Cunneen’s retirement, Bishop Jones was installed as the ninth bishop of Christchurch on 5 May 2007 at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.

[ Archives Reference: CDCA Uncatalogued Bishop Jones Papers]

[ Archives Reference: CDCA Photographic Collection #3559]


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