New Hamilton Catholic Bishop is a local lad

richard laurenson new hamilton bishop

The new Catholic Bishop-elect of Hamilton, Fr Richard Laurenson, does not wear clerical black.

He puts his avoidance of black down to Josie, his cat.

Late Wednesday night, Pope Francis appointed the 55-year-old Laurenson (pictured) the new Catholic Bishop of Hamilton.

Trust is fundamental

Laurenson says he is looking forward to his new role with a mix of fear and peace. He is praying that he does not disappoint.

Since learning of his appointment, Laurenson says he moves between peace and terror but emphasises that trust in God is fundamental to his life.

However, because the future is known only to God, he acknowledges that putting his trust in God is not always as easy as we sometimes make it sound, saying that it requires an ongoing commitment on his part.

“I find it hard to believe that the Lord wants me to do this,” he says

“Trust is an easy word but difficult to live.

“I pray that I do not disappoint him too much.”

Locally born

Born in 1968 in Hamilton, Laurenson was only 12 when the Diocese of Hamilton was established.

Now, the Bishop-elect will be the fourth Bishop of Hamilton – and the first of its bishops born within the diocesan area.

And, coming from within the diocese, he has some advantages. For example, he has an excellent working knowledge of the diocese, knows the clergy and, having served in several parishes, knows many people.

He is also the current Hamilton diocese Chancellor, Vicar for Marriage, a member of the College of Consultors and, since 2019, Defender of the Bond at the Tribunal of the Catholic Church in New Zealand. He was a judge and associate judicial vicar from 2016 to 2019.

Laurenson’s appointment reverses a recent trend in New Zealand dioceses to have bishops appointed from outside the diocese where they serve as priests. Until Laurenson’s appointment, Dunedin bishop Michael Dooley was the only bishop appointed from within a diocese.

The new role

Laurenson begs the indulgence of the people and his brother priests as he adjusts to his new situation.

It is too early to make pronouncements about what the diocese needs to do once the ‘dust settles’ he says.

Currently, his thinking is about four areas:

  • The RCIA and RCIC
  • The promotion of good and Godly liturgy
  • Calling young men to a life of brave adventure – priestly vocations
  • Good parish-based Catechesis for adult Catholics
Catholic Bishop of Hamilton Richard Laurenson

New Catholic Bishop of Hamilton – Richard Laurenson

Snapshot CV

Laurenson has served in many parishes in the Hamilton diocese and is currently parish priest at All Saints by the Sea, Papamoa.

As well as many of his diocesan appointments, for more than a decade, Laurenson served as a military chaplain who, for a time, worked alongside peacekeeping forces in Bougainville and Timor Leste.

Laurenson attended Holy Cross Seminary in Mosgiel and has a Baccalaureate in Theology from Otago University (1992). From 2007 to 2010, Laurenson studied for and obtained a Licentiate in Canon Law from the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome.

Ordination scheduled

Bishop-elect Laurenson is expected to be ordained on Friday 8 December, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, at a time still to be determined.

His appointment fills the vacancy that occurred after Hamilton’s former bishop, Stephen Lowe, was appointed Bishop of Auckland in December 2021.

With Laurenson’s appointment, all New Zealand dioceses have a bishop for the first time in more than four years.


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News category: New Zealand.

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