Bishop Charles' Biography

Bishop Charles was born and educated in Christchurch. He studied for the priesthood in Mosgiel and Rome. He was ordained in 1996 and after further study he served as a Parish Priest in the Diocese of Christchurch. He was ordained Bishop of Palmerston North in 2011 and resigned as of 4 October 2019.

Bishop_Charles___Official_Photo__2_Bishop Charles Drennan

  • Born in Christchurch in 1960
  • Educated at Ilam school, St Teresa’s School, Kirkwood Intermediate and Christ’s College, all in Christchurch
  • Awarded a 1st class honours Masters degree from the Universtity of Canterbury
  • Studied for priesthood at Holy Cross Seminary, Mosgiel and Propaganda Fide College, Rome.
  • Ordained at St Teresa’s parish, Riccarton, Christchurch on 14 June 1996
  • 28 September 1997 was received as an Ascribed member of the Institute of Charity (Rosminians).
  • Returned to Rome for post-graduate studies at the Gregorian University
  • Appointments held since ordination: Parish appointments in Hoon Hay and Bryndwr in Christchurch and in Timaru North; Holy Cross Seminary and Good Shepherd College, Auckland; Vatican Secretariat of State; Administrator of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament and Parish Priest of St Anne’s, Woolston; Chancellor of the Diocese of Christchurch
  • Nominated Coadjutor Bishop of Palmerston North in February 2011
  • Ordained Bishop at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Palmerston North on 11 June 2011
  • Installed as the second Ordinary of the Diocese of Palmerston North on 17 March 2012
  • Elected Secretary of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, 2016
  • Member of the Executive Committee of the Federation of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Oceania
  • Bishop member of the Board of the New Zealand Catholic Education Office Ltd; Bishop member of The Catholic Institute (TCI) Council; member of the NZCBC Commission for the Church
  • Resigned as Bishop of Diocese of Palmerston North, 4 October 2019


The Coat of Arms of Bishop Charles Drennan

Ecclesiastical heraldry is a type of identification of individuals, dioceses or institutions. The insignia together with the chosen emblems and the motto are a symbolic form of narrative.  In regard to a Bishop, they can express something of his family history, his spirituality, the region where he has been called to serve, and the Pope who has appointed him.


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  • The armorial bearings of Bishop Charles include:
  • a galero or ecclesiastical hat with six green tassels on either side of the shield, the mark of a Catholic Bishop;
  • a processional cross of one who is a Bishop;
  • two white doves taken from the Page family coat of arms which can symbolize the Holy Spirit, peace or freedom;
  • a chevron which evokes Taranaki, Ruapehu, Tararua and Whakapunake – mountains that adorn the diocese of Palmerston North and in Maori mythology speak of shelter, sustenance and beauty;
  • a pelican, ready to feed its young with its own blood, which in Christian art is a symbol both of the Passion of Jesus laying down his life for humanity and the Eucharist;
  • scallop shells, found on the shield of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, which are used to contain the water poured on one to be baptized.
  • The four shells placed beneath the pelican replace the usual feeding cygnets.  They represent the baptized and those yet to be baptized in all the regions of the Diocese – Taranaki, Whanganui, Manawatu and Hawkes Bay.


Bishop Charles’ motto caritas congaudet veritati  (love delights in the truth) is taken from the First Letter of St Paul to the Corinthians, chapter 13.  Saint Paul’s insight can be considered the kernel of Blessed Antonio Rosmini’s (founder of the Institute of Charity to which Bishop Charles belongs as an Ascribed member) entire contribution to the dialogue between faith and reason.  It also stands at the heart of the ‘new evangelization’ in which all the baptized of Aotearoa-New Zealand are called to participate as we further the mission of the universal Church in our own secular society.

Have a question? We can help. Get in touch with the Diocese.