Pope Francis appoints Fr Paul Martin, SM, as new Bishop of Christchurch

Fr Paul Martin1

Pope Francis has appointed Fr Paul Martin, SM, as the next Bishop of Christchurch diocese. Bishop-Elect Martin will be the tenth Bishop of Christchurch and succeeds Bishop Barry Jones who died in February 2016.
Bishop Patrick Dunn, president of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference (NZCBC), said “we are delighted that Bishop-Elect Paul has accepted the call to this special ministry. On behalf of all the New Zealand Bishops I warmly welcome him to our New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference. We know that he will bring a new voice and a valuable perspective to our discussions”.

Christchurch Bishop-elect Paul Martin

Bishop-Elect Paul Martin, SM, was born in Hastings in 1967, one of five children. He entered formation for the Society of Mary in February, 1985, and 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.

The Bishop-Elect has also served as President of the Wellington Secondary Schools Principals Association and was a part of the Marist community at the time it was working in Māori pastoral care at Rawene in the South Hokianga. More recently, he was General Bursar for the Society of Mary in Rome.

Bishop Dunn said “it is wonderful for Christchurch that they will receive a bishop who has worked with a range of communities, has extensive pastoral experience and comes to the role with a wealth of knowledge and expertise”.

As news of his appointment was announced, Bishop-Elect Martin said “I’d like to express what a privilege it is to be chosen to serve in the diocese of Christchurch as bishop, following in the footsteps of those before me. I am really looking forward to taking up this ministry and leading the diocese”.

Bishop Dunn said “I would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to Fr Rick Loughnan who has given us his dedicated service as diocesan administrator for almost two years. During this time he has worked tirelessly to support the priests and people of the diocese, and has represented them well at our regular meetings of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference.”

Fr Loughnan has been the administrator of the diocese following the passing of Bishop Barry Jones last year. Commenting at the time of the announcement, Fr Loughnan said “we are delighted with the appointment by Pope Francis and look forward to welcoming Bishop-Elect Paul with open arms.”

It is expected that his ordination will be in the first part of next year, possibly as early as February. The date will be decided by Bishop Elect Paul Martin.

New Bishop Biographical information:

Bishop-Elect Paul Martin was born in Hastings in 1967 to Ronald and Carmel Martin. He was one of five children.

Receiving his primary education at St Joseph’s School in Hastings, the Bishop-Elect then went on to St John’s College where he stayed until 1984. In 1985, he entered formation for the Society of Mary.

From 1985 – 1991 he studied at Marist seminaries in Wellington, Palmerston North and Napier. In 1991 Worked at the Santa Teresa Aboriginal Community, Northern Territory, Australia.

In 1993, he completed a Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology at the Angelicum University of Rome and studied to become a teacher.

This study was then followed by roles in teaching, including at Pompallier College in Whangarei, St Patrick’s College in Wellington and St Bede’s College in Christchurch where the then Father Martin taught English and Religious Studies. He was Deputy Rector (Pastoral Care) at St Bede’s between 1995 and 2008 and returned to St Patrick’s as Rector until 2014. He also spent time in the Ministry team at Hato Paora College in Feilding. From 2014 – 2016 the Bishop-Elect was assistant provincial and provincial bursar for the Society of Mary, before taking up the position of bursar general in Rome.

Bishop-Elect Martin has served on boards for St Bede’s, St Patrick’s, New Zealand Teachers’ Council, Wellington Archdiocesan Board of Administration and has been President of the Wellington Secondary Schools Principals Association.

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