Overview of the Bishops of the Diocese

Bishop John Joseph Grimes SM – First Bishop of Christchurch

May 1887 – March 1915   

Born February 11 1842 at Bromley by Bow in London’s East End, the second son of Elizabeth and Richard Grimes. He was educated by the Marist Brothers at Spitalfields and at a Marist school at Bar-le-Duc, in France. He trained for the priesthood at St Mary’s College, Dundalk, Ireland and was professed as a member of the Society of Mary in 1867 and ordained a priest by Archbishop Whelan of Bombay in the church of the Catholic University of Ireland on August 22, 1869.

He taught firstly at St Mary’s, Dundalk before being appointed to St Mary’s Jefferson College, Louisiana, USA in 1874. He became college president in 1879 but while caring for the sick during a yellow fever epidemic he contracted the disease and returned to Ireland.  In 1881 he was appointed to the staff of the Marist scholasticate and novitiate at Paignton, Devon, England, and also became the first parish priest of Paignton, baptising the first Catholic child in that area since the reformation.

He was appointed to the new see of Christchurch on May 13, 1887 and was ordained bishop at St Anne’s Church, Spitalfields on July 26, 1887 by Cardinal Vaughan.

He died in Sydney where he had gone for medical treatment on March 11, 1915 and was buried 10 days later in the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Christchurch.


Bishop Matthew Brodie – Second Bishop of Christchurch

November 1915 – October 1943

Born Coromandel March 1, 1864 and ordained a priest December 20, 1896 by Bishop Lenihan OSB.  He was appointed to Christchurch  in November 27, 1915 and ordained bishop in the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament February 27, 1916 by Cardinal Ceretti, Archbishop Redwood and Bishop Verdon.

He died October 11 1943 and was buried in the chapel of Mt Magdalea, now St John of God.


 Bishop Patrick Frances Lyons – Third Bishop of Christchurch

March 1944 – April 1950

Born Melbourne January 6, 1903, ordained priest January 6, 1927.  He was appointed to Christchurch March 16, 1944 and ordained bishop in Melbourne Cathedral on July 2, 1944 by Cardinal Van Rossum CSSR, being formally installed as bishop of Christchurch on August 6, 1944.

On April 5, 1950 he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney and on October 11, 1956 he became Coadjutor Bishop of Sale, becoming Bishop of that diocese on June 16, 1957. He died on August 13, 1967.

Click here to read a biography of Bishop Lyons.


Bishop Edward Michael Joyce – Fourth Bishop of Christchurch

April 1950 – January 1964


Born Lyttelton June 26, 1904, later lived at Loburn, and ordained a priest in October 31, 1930.

Appointed to Christchurch April 18, 1950, and ordained bishop in the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament July 16, 1950 by Archbishops McKeefry and Bishops Liston and Kavanagh.

Died January 28, 1964 and buried in the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. 

Click here to read a biography of Bishop Joyce


Bishop Brian Patrick Ashby – Fifth Bishop of Christchurch

July 1964 – July 1985

Born Belfast November 10, 1923, ordained priest January 1, 1954.  He was appointed to Christchurch July 11, 1964 and ordained a bishop August 5, 1964 by Archbishop McKeefry.

Resigned July 4, 1985, died June 5, 1988 and is buried at Bromley Cemetery.  

Bishop Ashby’s motto: “His Light Our Way” 



Bishop Denis William Hanrahan – Sixth Bishop of Christchurch

July 1985 – February 1987

Born Greymouth November 1, 1933 and ordained a priest July 21, 1957 by Bishop Joyce.  He was appointed coadjutor bishop of Christchurch March 25, 1984 and ordained bishop June 6, 1984 by Bishop Ashby, Archbishop Magnoni and Cardinal Williams.

He succeeded to the see of Christchurch July 4, 1985 and died February 1, 1987. He is buried at Bromley Cemetery.

Bishop John Basil Meeking – Seventh Bishop of Christchurch

June 1987 – February 1996


Born 19th November, 1929 in Ashburton.  He was ordained a Priest on 19th July, 1953
He was ordained Bishop: 3rd June, 1987 and retired in February, 1996.  

Parishes, Ministries and Assignments
(1954 until September, 2006) Beckenham/St Martins;  Chaplain – Christchurch Hospital;  Studies at the University of St Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), Rome (Doctor of Sacred Theology);  Kaiapoi: Methven; Bryndwr;  Official and later Under-Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, Rome; Bishop of Christchurch; latterly, work with Cardinal Francis George in Portland Oregon and in Chicago, his liaison with the Lumen Christi Institute in the University of Chicago and  with the Community of St John Cantius, Chicago.  

Bishop Basil’s Motto: “Speaking the truth in love”


Bishop John Jerome Cunneen – Eighth Bishop of Christchurch

December 1995 – May 2007


Born 5th May 1932 in Christchurch.  Ordained as a priest 8th July 1956

Parishes Served: Dallington, Cathedral, Rangiora/Oxford, Addington, Timaru North, Bishopdale, Christ the King

Date of Episcopal Ordination: 30 November 1992

Appointed Bishop of Christchurch: 15th December 1995.

Retired as Bishop of Christchurch: 4th May 2007 and died 9th November 2010. He is buried in the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.  Bishop John’s motto: “Faithful in Service”

Bishop Barry Philip Jones – Ninth Bishop of Christchurch

4 May 2007 – 2016

Born 29th August 1941 in Rangiora, and ordained a priest on 4th July 1966 at Ss Mary and Francis de Sales Church, Rangiora.

Education: Educated at St Joseph’s Convent primary School, Rangiora; St Bede’s College, Christchurch.  Studied for priesthood at Holy Name Seminary, Christchurch (Philosophy); Holy Cross College, Mosgiel (Theology)

Parishes and Ministries served: Timaru North, Cathedral, Christchurch Hospital, Kumara, Akaroa, Sockburn, Te Rangimarie, Burnham, Vice Rector Good Shepherd House, Riccarton, Greymouth

Ordained Coadjutor Bishop: 4th October 2006

Appointed Catholic Bishop of Christchurch: 4th May 2007

Bishop Barry’s motto: “The Lord delights in His people” (Psalm 149:4)

Click here to read a biography of Bishop Barry.


Bishop Paul Martin SM  – Tenth Bishop of Christchurch



Bishop Paul was born in Hastings, and was educated at St Joseph’s Primary School.  He undertook his secondary studies at St John’s College and entered formation for the Society of Mary in 1985. Bishop Paul studied in theology and arts at Victoria University in Wellington. He has taught English and Religious Education in New Zealand and has held the roles of Rector at St Patrick’s College in Wellington and Deputy Director (Pastoral Care) at St Bede’s College, Christchurch.  At the time of his appointment Bishop Paul was General Bursar for the Society of Mary in Rome.

On 5 December 2017, Martin was appointed, by Pope Francis, Bishop of the Christchurch Diocese and was ordained on Saturday 3 March 2018 by Cardinal John Dew, Archbishop of Wellington, Bishop Emeritus of Christchurch Basil Meeking and Bishop Charles Drennan of Palmerston North.