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Wellington welcomes a new Shepherd

Debbie Cramsie
Debbie Cramsie
Debbie Cramsie is a writer and commentator for the Catholic Weekly.
Archbishop Paul Martin SM at his installation as Archbishop of Wellington on 17 June at St Teresa’s Pro-Cathedral in Karori. Photo: Archdiocese of Wellington

Archbishop Paul Martin SM installed as New Zealand’s most senior cleric on 17 June

Archbishop Paul Martin SM was installed as Archbishop of Wellington, New Zealand’s most senior cleric, on 17 June at St Teresa’s Pro-Cathedral in Karori, replacing Cardinal John Dew who retired last month, aged 75.

Previously, Archbishop Martin was the Bishop of Christchurch, having been appointed in December 2017 and consecrated in March 2018, and was made Coadjutor Archbishop of Wellington in January 2021 to prepare for the cardinal’s retirement.

Archbishop Martin’s installation coincided with the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary which he said was a “blessed bonus.”

“Mary is a living example of what love looks like and a woman of deep love too for God and for us,” he said.

“I feel blessed to be taking up this calling as Archbishop of Wellington on this day, under the mantle of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as I begin this vocation of service to the church of the Archdiocese of Wellington.

“My hope is that through this I will grow in my own holiness and closeness to God along with all the people who I have the privilege of serving.

“May we together bask in the love of God and the prayers and support of his mother for us all, so that we will indeed have the fullness of God living in each one of us.”

Born in Hastings in 1967 and one of five children, Archbishop Martin entered formation for the Society of Mary in February 1985 and studied theology and arts at the Victoria University of Wellington.

He completed a Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology at the Angelicum University in Rome and studied to become a teacher.

He worked in schools for 20 years and was also rector at St Patrick’s College in Wellington.
The archbishop has also previously served as bursar general of the Society of Mary in Rome and is general secretary of the NZ Catholic Bishops Conference.

Archbishop Martin thanked family, friends, the Society of Mary, the people of the diocese of Christchurch and his predecessor Cardinal John Dew at his installation Mass.

“I want to thank all those who have made this day come together,” he said.

“To my mother Carmel and my dad Ron, who died 28 years ago, you both showed me what a life of faith looked like.

“To my friends, I have moved around a lot in my life which was both interesting but also made building friendships not so easy, so I am very grateful to you all.
“I remember years ago sitting in the cathedral and looking at the names of the bishops which were around the pulpit, men who led bravely and well, and now God has asked that of me as well.

“I am aware of the faith and the witness of those who have gone before me, and I want to acknowledge with gratitude those who are still with us, Cardinal Tom Williams and my predecessor Cardinal John Dew.”

The Archbishop of Wellington since 2005, Cardinal Dew remains apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Palmerston North and continues with his various Vatican roles, including membership of the College of Cardinals, and will take part in papal elections until he is aged 80.

New Zealand has one archdiocese, Wellington, and five suffragan dioceses. Archbishop said his predecessor as NZ’s most senior cleric had served the church with distinction.

“We wish Cardinal John well in his retirement, which I am sure will be an active one,” he said.

“He has guided the Archdiocese of Wellington through many challenges and major changes, always with a very pastoral approach.

“He has also had many demanding national roles in the church, and we will miss him”.

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