Pope Francis appoints John Adams as Bishop of Palmerston North

Bishop John Adams

Pope Francis has appointed Fr John Adams from the Diocese of Christchurch as the new Catholic Bishop of Palmerston North.

The appointment was announced in Rome at 10pm New Zealand time, Thursday 22 June and it fills a vacancy created by the resignation of Bishop Charles Drennan in 2019.

Ordained as a priest in 2003, Christchurch-born Adams is the parish priest of St Peter Chanel Parish in North Canterbury.

He is a trained teacher who has served as the Christchurch Diocese Vicar for Education since 2013 and the diocesan Council of Priests chair since 2015.

“I was initially surprised but then joyful to hear, just over a week ago, about the invitation to become the next Catholic Bishop of Palmerston North,” says Adams.

“Whilst I am saddened that my very happy and fulfilled days in the Diocese of Christchurch will soon come to an end, I have experienced God’s providence in my life enough to know that the power of his grace is not limited by location.

“Surely, we now live in a time that urgently needs to hear the ‘good news’ of the Gospel.

“To the people of the Palmerston North diocese, I want to say that my prayers for you have already begun, and I am looking forward to living and sharing with you that same ‘good news’,” said Bishop-elect Adams.

Pope Francis has put a synodal way of being Church at the forefront of the minds of Catholics, and Adams is known for his collaborative leadership style.

After attending a talk by Divine Renovation’s  Fr James Mallon Adams became completely convinced that the Divine Renovation model was a genuine path forward.

“The path forward, a breakthrough for me, was when I realised that one of the strategies for leadership is collaborative leadership, where the particular weaknesses and faults that I have can be ameliorated by having a team, a senior leadership team.

“That’s just absolutely suited me,” said Adams on the Divine Renovation Ministry YouTube Channel.

The President of the NZ Catholic Bishops Conference, Bishop of Auckland Stephen Lowe, warmly welcomed the Pope’s announcement.

“We are delighted with Fr John’s appointment as the new Bishop of Palmerston North,” says Bishop Lowe.

“Bishop-elect John is a loved parish priest who will bring a rich experience of pastoral and spiritual leadership to his new diocese.

“We look forward to sharing with the people of the diocese in the ordination of their new shepherd.”

A date is yet to be set for the ordination of Bishop-elect Adams, but it is likely to be by the end of September.

Bishop-elect John Adams’ CV

Date of Birth: 18 November 1963
Place of Birth: Christchurch, New Zealand
Priestly Ordination: 4 July 2003; Diocese: Christchurch

Northcote Primary School, Christchurch 1968 – 1974
Casebrook Intermediate School, Christchurch 1975 – 1976
St Bede’s College, Christchurch 1977 – 1981

Degrees, awards, diplomas
Bachelor of Science Canterbury University, NZ
Diploma in Teaching, Christchurch Technical College, NZ
Bachelor of Theology, Auckland, NZ
Advanced Diploma in Theology, Sydney, Australia

Priestly formation
Good Shepherd House, Christchurch 1995
Holy Cross Seminary, Auckland, NZ 1996 – 2003

Priestly ministry
July 2003 – February 2004: St Teresa’s Parish – assistant priest
2004 – 2005: St Patrick’s Parish, Greymouth – assistant priest
2005 – 2007: St Patrick’s Parish, Greymouth – administrator
2008 – 2010: Christ the King Parish – assistant
2011 – 2018: St Joseph’s Parish – parish priest
2019 – current St Peter Chanel Parish – parish priest

Other Christchurch diocese appointments
Tertiary Chaplain 2008 – 2010
Clergy Trust Fund 2011 – 2021
Council of Priests 2009 –  current
Chair, Council of Priests 2015 – 2023
College of Consultors 2014 – still current
Episcopal Vicar for Education 2013 – current
Chair, Education Council 2015 – current


Additional reading

News category: Great reads, New Zealand, Palmerston.

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