Charles Drennan

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The Reverend

Charles Drennan
Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Palmerston North
Province Wellington
Diocese Palmerston North
Predecessor Peter Cullinane
Ordination 14 June 1996 (Priest) in Rome
Consecration 11 June 2011 (Bishop)[1] in the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Palmerston North
Personal details
Birth name Charles Edward Drennan
Born (1960-08-23) 23 August 1960 (age 56)
Christchurch, New Zealand
Nationality New Zealander
Denomination Roman Catholic Church
Residence Palmerston North
Occupation Roman Catholic bishop
Profession Cleric
Alma mater Holy Cross Seminary, Mosgiel, New Zealand
Pontifical Urbaniana University, Rome
Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome
Motto caritas congaudet veritati

Charles Edward Drennan (born 23 August 1960 in Christchurch, New Zealand) is the Second Catholic Bishop of Palmerston North, New Zealand (22 February 2012 – present).

Early life[edit]

Drennan was raised by an Anglican father and a Catholic mother.[2] He attended Ilam School, St Teresa's School (Riccarton), Kirkwood Intermediate School and Christ's College.[3] At St Teresa's, the nine-year-old Drennan was introduced by a teacher to the book Promises to Keep by Dr Tom Dooley about the Vietnam War. This book impressed Drennan, who was even then thinking of becoming a priest, with the notion of service.[2]

After finishing university he spent a three-year period travelling overseas and worked for a period in a Ryder-Cheshire home in India for tuberculosis patients, special needs adults and children whose parents had leprosy. There he made the decision to become a Roman Catholic priest.[4] He studied for the priesthood at Holy Cross Seminary, Mosgiel for two years[5] before being sent by his bishop, John Meeking of Christchurch, to Rome to complete his training at the Pontifical Urbaniana University.[2] He later took postgraduate studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University.[3]


Drennan was ordained a priest in Rome for the Diocese of Christchurch on 14 June 1996. Drennan also became an Ascribed Rosminian - he belongs to the Institute of Charity (Rosminians) as a diocesan priest.[4] He returned to New Zealand and served as a priest in the parishes of Hoon Hay and Timaru.

After his post-graduate study in Rome, he was on the staff of Holy Cross Seminary and Good Shepherd College in Auckland. He was then invited to work in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State where he spent seven years. His main role was writing speeches and talks for the Pope. Drennan's period there covered the final years of Pope John Paul II and the election and first four years of Pope Benedict XVI.[2]

Drennan said that working at the Vatican was "intense, finely focused and hugely stimulating. I met some wonderful people there - priests and lay, working in the Vatican".[2] At the request of Bishop Barry Jones, Drennan returned to Christchurch in 2010. Just before leaving the Vatican, he accompanied the Pope on a visit to the Czech Republic, during which they discussed the Church in New Zealand.[2] In Christchurch, Drennan held the title of Monsignor and the position of Diocesan Chancellor of the Diocese of Christchurch.[3]

He also held the positions of Administrator of Blessed Sacrament Cathedral,[6] Parish Priest of St Anne’s Parish, Woolston and chair of the Council of Priests.[7]


Drennan was appointed coadjutor bishop of Palmerston North by Pope Benedict XVI on 22 February 2011.[1] He was consecrated on 11 June 2011[2] in the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Palmerston North.[8] His principal consecrator was his future predecessor, Bishop Peter Cullinane of Palmerston North and the principal co-consecrators were Bishop Barry Philip Jones of Christchurch and Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Canberra-Goulburn. Drennan succeeded to the see on 22 February 2012, following the retirement of Peter Cullinane.[1] His liturgical installation took place at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit on 17 March 2012.[9] Drennan is a member of the executive committee of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania and is bishop member of the board of the New Zealand Catholic Education Office Ltd. He is a member of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference Commission for the Church. Drennan's motto caritas congaudet veritati (love delights in the truth) is taken from the First Letter of St Paul to the Corinthians, chapter 13.[3]


Social Justice[edit]

On 7 March 2015, Drennan joined with other protestors in a demonstration in Palmerston North in relation to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In a speech to the 500 protestors in The square, he said: "Absolute freedom is not in our interests." "It most certainly is not a right of global business interests to trump the duty of an elected government to govern a nation's economy in accord with the wishes of that nation's citizens." Drennan also denounced the secrecy of the TPP negotiations.[10]


  1. ^ a b c "Bishop Charles Edward Drennan". The Hierarchy of the Catholic Church. 13 June 2011. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "New bishop coming but not quite yet". Wel-com. 282: 13. April 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Bishop Charles Drennan", Diocese of Palmerston North (Retrieved 27 November 2014)
  4. ^ a b "Bishop welcomes new deputy". Wel-com: 12. March 2011. Retrieved 6 March 2011. 
  5. ^ Norris, Peter Joseph (1999). Southernmost Seminary: The story of Holy Cross College, Mosgiel (1907-1997). Auckland: Holy Cross Seminary. pp. 110, 112, 118, 121, 164. 
  6. ^ Otto, Michael (23 February 2011). "Christchurch Catholic Cathedral partially destroyed in earthquake". NZ Catholic. Retrieved 23 February 2011. 
  7. ^ "Council of Priests". Catholic Diocese of Christchurch. Retrieved 25 February 2011. 
  8. ^ "Ordination of Monsignor Charles Drennan". Diocese of Palmerston North. 1 June 2011. Retrieved 6 June 2011. 
  9. ^ "Vatican Announcement - Bishop Charles Drennan succeeds Bishop Peter Cullinane as ordinary of the Diocese of Palmerston North". Catholic Diocese of Palmerston North. 22 February 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  10. ^ NZ Catholic staff (2015). "Bishop joins trade protest". NZCatholic. 461 (22 March 2015): 1. 
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Coadjutor Bishop of Palmerston North
2011 - 2012
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Peter Cullinane
2nd Bishop of Palmerston North
2012 - present
Succeeded by