Thomas O'Shea (Archbishop of Wellington)

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Thomas O'Shea, SM (13 March 1870 — 9 May 1954) was the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Wellington, Metropolitan of New Zealand.[1]

He was born at San Francisco, California on 13 March 1870, the son of Edmond O'Shea, a miner, and his wife, Johanna Sullivan, both Irish-born, who had emigrated from Charleston, New Zealand. The family returned to New Zealand and began farming near Hawera, Taranaki. Thomas O'Shea was a foundation boarder at St Patrick's College, Wellington from June 1885, and taught there in 1889. In 1890 he entered the Marist seminary at Meeanee; he was professed as a member of the Society of Mary the following year and ordained on 3 December 1893. He taught philosophy at the seminary from 1894 until 1896.[1]

After serving in various Wellington parishes, O'Shea was appointed vicar general of the Archdiocese of Wellington in 1907, and received the title of dean in 1912. He was consecrated as coadjutor archbishop of Wellington on 17 August 1913. He gradually took over responsibility for the affairs of the archdiocese from the ageing Archbishop Francis Redwood who died on 3 January 1935 and O'Shea succeeded him.[1]

In 1935, he was awarded the King George V Silver Jubilee Medal.[2]

O'Shea's tenure was marked by increasing reliance on secular clergy rather than on the Marist Order. He considerably developed Catholic education in Wellington. He had revived the Society of St Vincent de Paul in Wellington in 1906, and he promoted Catholic social-study classes throughout the archdiocese during and after the depression. He also set up a Church Music Commission to promote liturgical music in 1936. He hosted a National Eucharistic Congress in February 1940 as a contribution to the New Zealand national centennial celebrations.[1]


O'Shea was bedridden and suffered from senility during the final years of his life and died at Calvary Hospital, Wellington, on 9 May 1954.[3] He was succeeded by Peter McKeefry.[1]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Coadjutor Archbishop of Wellington
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Francis Redwood SM
2nd Archbishop of Wellington
Succeeded by
Peter McKeefry


  1. ^ a b c d e van der Krogt, Christopher. "O'Shea, Thomas 1870 - 1954". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  2. ^ "Official jubilee medals". The Evening Post CXIX (105). 6 May 1935. p. 4. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  3. ^ Obituary, Zealandia, 13 May 1954, pp. 8 and 9.

Main sources[edit]