History of the Diocese

The Catholic Diocese of Christchurch was established by papal brief in 1887. Formerly part of Wellington Archdiocese, the Diocese of Christchurch is currently comprised of 27 parishes covering parts of the West Coast and Canterbury in the South Island of New Zealand as well as the Chatham Islands, the first place in the world to be touched by the sun each day.

Since 1887 the Diocese has had ten bishops. The mother church of the Diocese is the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Christchurch, which in 2005 celebrated its centenary but was damaged in the February 2011 earthquakes.
The Catholic population of the Diocese is 62,715. The diocese covers 51,780 square kilometres (or 20,000 square miles).
The diocesan patron saint is St John the Baptist.

Bishops who have served the Christchurch Diocese are:

·         John Joseph Grimes S. M.: 26 July 1887 to 15 March 1915

·         Matthew Joseph Brodie: 27 February 1916 to 11 October 1943

·         Patrick Francis Lyons: 2 July 1944 to 3 June 1950

·         Edward Michael Joyce: 16 July 1950 to 28 January 1964

·         Brian Patrick Ashby: 5 August 1964 to 4 July 1985

·         Denis William Hanrahan: 4 July 1985 to 1 February 1987

·         John Basil Meeking: 3 June 1987 to 15 December 1995

·         John Jerome Cunneen: 15 December 1995 to 5 May 2007

·         Barry Philip Jones: 5 May 2007 to 13 February 2016

·         Paul Martin: 3 March 2018 to current

Click here for a further brief overview on the Bishops who have served the Christchurch Diocese.

Or click on each individual bishop for more information. [note: we are progressively compiling biographical information on each bishop]