St Mary's Seminary

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St Mary's Seminary was established in 1850 by New Zealand's first Catholic bishop, Jean Baptiste François Pompallier. It operated until 1869.[1]

From his arrival in 1838, Pompallier had worked energetically to train priests locally for his new mission.[1] In April 1850 he returned from a trip to Europe with ten seminarians and established a seminary in Auckland to complete their formation.[2] The completion of the training of the new seminarians was carried out quickly so that within five weeks all but one of them were ordained.[2]

The seminary, which he named "St Mary's College", had Pompallier's Vicar General, the Rev. Louis Rozet, S.M., as its first Rector. It was first established on the North Shore of Auckland but was moved across Waitemata Harbour to Ponsonby in 1852.[2]

The Seminary survived for 19 years, until Pompallier retired and left New Zealand in 1869. St Mary's Seminary educated at least twenty-four priests (not counting the initial ten seminarians?),[1] all of them European and some of them already part-trained in Ireland or France.[2]

The college also educated many Māori catechists, some of whom were encouraged to stay on for training for the priesthood.[2] One, Keremeti Pine from Okaihau, was even sent to Rome, where for three years among seminarians from Africa and Asia, he spoke Latin and passable Italian. However, no Māori candidate for the priesthood was ordained at this time.[2] The Māori catechists, however, proved to be the backbone of the development of the Catholic faith among the Māori during the remaining decades of the 19th century.[2]


  1. ^ a b c Good Shepherd College website, Our History (retrieved 6 December 2011)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Michael King, God's Farthest Outpost: A History Of Catholics In New Zealand, Penguin Books, Auckland, 1997, p. 73.

See also[edit]