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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]

The Right Rev. John Joseph Grimes

The Right Rev. John Joseph Grimes, D.D., Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch, was born in the archdiocese of Westminster, England, in 1842. Having passed through the usual course of studies, lay and ecclesiastical, he was ordained at Dublin by the Most Rev. Dr Whelan, Archbishop of Bombay. Previous to his departure for New Orleans in 1874 as a volunteer to take up the duty of Professor, he was a professor at St. Mary's College, Dundalk. During his residence in America he spent seven years at Jefferson College, of which he became rector. Whilst helping the clergy in the neighbouring district, he was stricken down with yellow fever, from which he marvellously recovered. After that he was
Bishop Grimes.

Bishop Grimes.

called by his superiors to take charge of the newly formed mission of Paignton, South Devon, England, where he endeared himself to all. The church of the Marist Fathers, built on St. Mary's Hill, in the same locality, was the first Catholic place of worship opened in the neighbourhood since the Reformation. On the 7th of May, 1887, Father Grimes was appointed Bishop of the newly constituted diocese of Christchurch, and was consecrated by Cardinal Vaughan on the feast of St. Anne, on the 26th of July in the same year. After being about three years in his diocese a serious illness overtook his lordship, and a long voyage and a complete rest from work were recommended for his recovery. A journey to Europe was thereupon undertaken with the object of recruiting his health and reporting to the Holy See on the state of religion in the new diocese of Christchurch. While he was in Rome Bishop Grimes had several interviews with his Holiness the Pope, who graciously accepted sundry addresses borne by the Bishop from members of the church [gap — reason: illegible] Canterbury, and his Holiness presented his lordship with a magnificent gold chalice for use in his cathedral church in New Zealand. After recovering his health, his lordship conducted numerous ordinations and confirmations, and received a hearty and loving welcome in the scenes of his early labours in England and Ireland. On his return trip Bishop Grimes visited the sacred places in Italy and France, and witnessed the famous Passion Play at Oberammergau, in the highlands of Bavaria. He returned to New Zealand, via America, where he was a guest of the distinguished prelate, Archbishop Ireland, and was cordially received by his Eminence Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop of Baltimore. On his lordship's return to Christchurch thoroughly recruited in health, he was received by his people with every demonstration of devoted loyalty and love. Since then many improvements have been made in the working of the diocese, which is served by about thirty priests, but needs many more. Had the Bishop three or four more priests, and means at command, the usefulness of the church would be largely extended. The new Cathedral, now (1902) in course of erection, will be one of the most imposing and beautiful buildings in New Zealand, and will stand as a monument to the great energy and devotion of his lordship's people. Bishop Grimes is an effective orator, and his discourses are those of an accomplished scholar and Christian prelate, who loves his people and his work amongst them.