One hundred years ago today, 15 March 1915, the first Catholic Bishop of the newly created diocese of Christchurch died. John Joseph Grimes was an English Marist priest, educated in England, France and Ireland, and a professor at Jefferson College, Louisiana USA, before his appointment to Christchurch in 1887. He served as Bishop of Christchurch for twenty seven years until his death.
You can read the New Zealand online Encyclopaedia Te Ara for further details at this link. I spent a couple of hours with Fr. Kevin Clark (Christchurch diocesan archivist) a few weeks ago looking through the Grimes archive. There was much of great interest including his homilies and other writings. But the most moving find for me was when Fr. Kevin showed me Bishop Grimes’ seal with his motto taken from Judges: “If you go with me, I will go.”
Perhaps his choice of motto gives us an insight into how he felt at this antipodean appointment. But he clearly knew that with God we can go anywhere without fear.
May we who benefit from his legacy in the Chatham Islands, Westland and Canterbury live with the same confidence that because God goes with us, we can go wherever God leads us. We are never alone.
Below, Bishop Grimes with the Anglican Bishop of Christchurch, Bishop Julius.
Bishop Grimes’ pectoral cross