Thomas Williams (cardinal)

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His Eminence
Thomas Stafford Williams
Cardinal, Archbishop Emeritus of Wellington
Tom Williams ONZ (cropped).jpg
Williams in 2011
Archdiocese Wellington
Appointed 30 October 1979
Installed 20 December 1979
Term ended 21 March 2005
Predecessor Reginald Delargey
Successor John Atcherley Dew
Other posts Cardinal-Priest of Gesù Divin Maestro alla Pineta Sacchetti
Ordination 20 December 1959
by Gregorio Pietro Agagianian
Consecration 20 December 1979
by Owen Snedden
Created cardinal 2 February 1983
by John Paul II
Rank Cardinal-Priest
Personal details
Born (1930-03-20) 20 March 1930 (age 88)
Wellington, New Zealand
Nationality New Zealander
Denomination Roman Catholic
Previous post Ordinary of the Military Ordinariate of New Zealand (1995-2005)
Motto Unity in Christ
Coat of arms Thomas Stafford Williams's coat of arms

Thomas Stafford Williams ONZ ChStJ (born 20 March 1930) is a cardinal in the Catholic church and before his retirement in 2005 the fifth Archbishop of Wellington.

Early life and education[edit]

Williams was born in Wellington, New Zealand and educated at Holy Cross Primary School, Seatoun; SS Peter and Paul School, Lower Hutt; St. Patrick's College, Wellington; and St. Kevin's College, Oamaru. He obtained a Bachelor of Commerce degree at Victoria University, Wellington, and worked for some years as an accountant. During his studies, he was deeply involved in the Catholic Youth Movement (YCW) and for a period worked full-time for the movement. In 1954 he commenced studies for the priesthood at the National Seminary, Holy Cross College, Mosgiel, Dunedin.

In 1956 he was sent to the Pontifical Urban University in Rome, where he obtained a licentiate in theology and was ordained a priest on 20 December 1959. Later he received a social sciences degree from University College Dublin.


Returning to Wellington, he served as assistant pastor and as Director of Studies at the Catholic Enquiry Centre. He left that post when he volunteered to serve as a missionary in Samoa (today the Archdiocese of Samoa-Apia), where he was parish priest for 5 years. He returned to New Zealand in 1963 and became parish priest at St. Patrick's in Palmerston North for two years. This was followed by four years as Director of the Catholic Enquiry Centre in Wellington. In 1971 he moved to Leulumoega, Samoa and returned to New Zealand in 1976 to the Holy Family Parish in Porirua East, one of the Archdiocese's most multi-cultural parishes.[citation needed]

Church leader[edit]

He became Archbishop of Wellington on 20 December 1979 – his 20th anniversary of priestly ordination – following the death of Reginald Cardinal Delargey. His principal consecrator was Owen Snedden, long-term Auxiliary Bishop of Wellington. Williams was created Cardinal-Priest of the titular church of Jesus the Divine Teacher at Pineta Sacchetti by Pope John Paul II on 2 February 1983.

Styles of
Thomas Stafford Williams
Coat of arms of Thomas Stafford Williams.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Wellington (emeritus)

He was additionally appointed Military Ordinary in 1995. He received New Zealand's highest honour, the Order of New Zealand in 2000.

Moral campaigns[edit]

He campaigned strongly against the passage of the law allowing civil unions in New Zealand saying it would turn New Zealand into a "moral wasteland".[1] He also campaigned against the expansion of casinos.[2]

Conclave and retirement[edit]

Williams was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI. He resigned as Archbishop of Wellington on 21 March 2005 having reached the age of 75 years and was succeeded by the then Coadjutor Archbishop, John Atcherley Dew.

Selected works[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "NZ gay law 'to make moral wasteland'". 7 August 2004. Archived from the original on 7 August 2004. Retrieved 31 August 2017. 
  2. ^ "News Features - Catholic Culture". 21 January 2013. Archived from the original on 21 January 2013. Retrieved 31 August 2017. 

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Reginald Delargey
Archbishop of Wellington
Succeeded by
John Atcherley Dew