4 April 2011
Bishop Peter Cullinane has welcomed Msgr Charles Drennan of Christchurch as Coadjutor Bishop of Palmerston North. He will assist current Bishop Peter in the governance of the diocese until the latter’s retirement in November.
Currently Administrator of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament Parish and Parish Priest of St Anne’s Woolston, Mgr Drennan’s immediate focus is on the people of Christchurch after last month’s quake.
His ordination is set for June 11 in Palmerston North.
A coadjutor bishop is a co-bishop of a diocese in all except ceremonial precedence.
At the request of Christchurch Bishop Barry Jones, Mgr Drennan, 50, returned to Christchurch last year from Rome where he had spent seven years working in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State. This office oversees all departments of the Vatican and is the seat of the church’s diplomatic relations with states and multilateral organisations across the globe.
It is also the pope’s own secretariat and serves him through the preparation of speeches as well as being the primary avenue in which he is briefed about church and state affairs.
Just before leaving the Vatican, Mgr Drennan accompanied the pope on a visit to the Czech Republic during which they discussed the church in New Zealand.
Before moving to the Vatican Mgr Drennan was on the staff of Holy Cross Seminary in Mosgiel and Good Shepherd College in Auckland and in earlier days served as a priest in Christchurch and Timaru.
He undertook most of his training for the priesthood in Rome and later took up postgraduate studies there before returning to work in the Vatican. Bishop-elect Drennan is also an Ascribed Rosminian – he belongs to the Institute of Charity (Rosminians) as a diocesan priest.
Mgr Drennan grew up in Christchurch and attended St Teresa’s school, then staffed by the Cluny Sisters, and Christ’s College. He is one of five children, has nine nieces and nephews, and his parents still live in Christchurch. During a three-year OE, the young Charles Drennan decided in India to become a Catholic priest. He was volunteering at a Ryder-Cheshire centre for TB patients, special needs adults and children, and children whose parents have leprosy. He was ordained in 1996.
Bishop Peter says he is delighted with the appointment of Mgr Drennan. His appointment is good news for the Diocese of Palmerston North and for the New Zealand Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
‘It is greatly pleasing to me to see the diocese, with which I have identified so much as its founding bishop over 31 years, pass into the pastoral care of one who will be a very fine bishop.
‘Of course, our joy has been tempered by the distress we all feel over the Christchurch earthquake. Our prayers go out for Charles himself, but also for his current diocese and all the people of Christchurch.
New bishop coming but not quite yet