Last week there was the latest episcopal ordination in New Zealand. Charles Drennan was ordained in the wonderful cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Palmerston North. Bishop Charles is Coadjutor Bishop of Palmerston North. He will take over from Bishop Peter Cullinane as Bishop of Palmerston North upon Bishop Peter’s retirement, probably later this year.
I have been friendly with the Drennan family for about 35 years. They are a strongly ecumenical family. Charles went to Roman Catholic primary schooling, St Teresa’s, Kirkwood Intermediate, a state school, and then he went to the Anglican secondary school, Christ’s College, where I serve as chaplain. We share an interest in the Rosminians. He is what is called an “ascribed” member (a bit like a third order).
He decided to become a Roman Catholic priest during his three years travelling overseas. Most of his training for the priesthood was in Rome. He served as a priest in parishes in Christchurch and Timaru, on the staff of Holy Cross Seminary and Good Shepherd College, and then served for seven years in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State.
Bishop Charles is putting a strong focus on promoting vocations to the priesthood, “One aspect that Bishop Peter has also been involved with is trying to promote vocations to the priesthood, because there aren’t many young men in the seminary in New Zealand. We could certainly do with more younger priests, so that will be one of my priorities. I will be promoting these vocations to the high schools and the university.” It seems that there are only about five priests younger than the bishop in the diocese.
It is not the easiest time to be a bishop – so let’s pray for Bishop Charles, the diocese, the church and wider community.