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New Bishop Announced for the Diocese of Hamilton

posted Nov 24, 2014, 11:00 PM by Aidan Collett   [ updated Nov 24, 2014, 11:05 PM by Parishes of The Holy Family ]
Pope Francis appoints new Bishop of Hamilton
The Holy Father has appointed Fr Stephen Lowe as the next Bishop of the Hamilton Diocese. Bishop-Elect Stephen Lowe is the third Bishop of Hamilton and succeeds Bishop Denis Browne whose resignation has been accepted by the Holy Father. This is the first appointment by Pope Francis of a New Zealand Bishop.

“We are grateful that Bishop-Elect Stephen Lowe has accepted the call to this special ministry, and on behalf of all the New Zealand Bishops I express our support and welcome as he becomes part of our New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference. We have no doubt that he will bring a valuable perspective to our discussions,” said Archbishop John Dew, President of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference.

In 1996 Bishop-Elect Lowe was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Christchurch, serving in parishes throughout the Diocese. He has spent the last six years serving at Holy Cross Seminary in Auckland, the national Catholic Seminary, as Director of Formation.

Hearing of the announcement Bishop Browne said, “I am delighted that Hamilton will receive a Bishop with such pastoral sensitivities and expertise both of which Bishop-Elect Stephen has. His pastoral experience in parishes and his brilliant term as director of formation will all serve him well and he will be warmly welcomed to Hamilton Diocese. For myself looking back over nearly 38 years as a Bishop in three difference Dioceses, I am grateful for the wonderful support and loyalty that I have received from Clergy, Religious and the Laity.

As news of his appointment was announced Bishop-Elect Stephen Lowe said “It has been a humbling and overwhelming experience to have been called to be the third Bishop of Hamilton. I look forward now to meeting the people, religious, deacons and priests of Hamilton Diocese and to work with and serve them as their Bishop. As I do so I am conscious of Bishop Denis Browne’s faithful service as bishop and I look forward to learning from him and the Diocesan family as I take up my new ministry.”

Archbishop John Dew said “I would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to Bishop Denis Browne for his dedicated service as Bishop of Hamilton for the last 20 years, and his valuable contribution to the Church in New Zealand since his ordination to the priesthood 52 years ago.”

“Bishop Denis has always approached his vocation as Bishop in a prayerful and faithful way. He always puts people first, and their needs are always at the forefront of his decisions.” Said Archbishop Dew.


Stephen Lowe was born in Hokitika, the youngest child of Milly and Frank Lowe, with two older sisters Margaret and Dorothy.

He was educated at Hokitika Primary School, then St Mary’s Primary School and because there was no Catholic College in Hokitika he completed his secondary schooling at Westland High School.

Following school he worked for the NZ Forest Service in Hokitika and Christchurch and the NZ Timberlands in Timaru. During this time he became involved in his local parish in Timaru North where he was involved in a young adults group and with youth in the parish. In 1989 he discerned the call 
to priesthood and entered Holy Cross College seminary in Mosgiel in 1990. He completed his final                        Bishop-Elect Stephen Lowe                 year of seminary study at St Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia during 1994-1995. Bishop-Elect Stephen Lowe was ordained as a priest for the Diocese of Christchurch in his home town at Hokitika in 1996. 
He served as the assistant priest in Mairehau, Ashburton and Greymouth parishes before being appointed parish priest of Timaru North. From 2005-2007 he completed a Licence in Spiritual Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He was appointed to Holy Cross Seminary in 2008 where he served as Formation Director until last month. While based at the Seminary in Auckland, he served, for a time, as Parish Priest of Ponsonby.

Bishops are appointed by the Holy Father. The pastoral care of a diocese is entrusted to a diocesan bishop (sometimes referred to as the Ordinary of the diocese). An auxiliary bishop assists the diocesan bishop. A coadjutor bishop has the right to succeed the diocesan bishop as Ordinary of the diocese.

Bishops normally offer their resignation to the Holy Father when they reach the age of 75. When their resignation is accepted they become an emeritus archbishop or bishop. There are currently six diocesan bishops, six emeritus bishops, and an emeritus archbishop in New Zealand.

Bishop-Elect Stephen Lowe – Bishop-elect of Hamilton
Most Reverend Denis Browne Emeritus Bishop of Hamilton
Most Reverend Colin Campbell Bishop of Dunedin
Most Reverend John Dew Archbishop of Wellington
Most Reverend Charles Drennan Bishop of Palmerston North
Most Reverend Patrick Dunn Bishop of Auckland
Most Reverend Barry Jones Bishop of Christchurch

Officers of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference
President: Archbishop John Dew
General Secretary: Bishop Patrick Dunn
Vice-President: Bishop Colin Campbell