Bishop John Adams

Bishop John Lewis Adams is the third Bishop of Palmerston North. He was installed as the new Bishop of Palmerston North on Saturday 30 September, 2023. His motto ‘show us your light and your truth’ is taken from psalm 43, and is prayed in the hope that, as the psalmist implores, they will lead us “…to Your holy mountain, to the place where You dwell…”

John Lewis Adams was born 18 November, 1963 in Christchurch, New Zealand.


  • Northcote Primary School, Christchurch 1968 – 1974
  • Casebrook Intermediate School, Christchurch 1975 – 1976
  • St Bede’s College, Christchurch 1977 – 1981


  • Bachelor of Science Canterbury University
  • NZ Diploma in Teaching, Christchurch Technical College
  • NZ Bachelor of Theology, Auckland
  • NZ Advanced Diploma in Theology, Sydney, Australia


  • Good Shepherd House, Christchurch 1995
  • Holy Cross Seminary, Auckland, NZ 1996 – 2003

Priestly Ordination

  • 4 July 2003, in the Diocese of Christchurch


  • July 2003 – February 2004: St Teresa’s Parish – assistant priest
  • 2004 – 2005: St Patrick’s Parish, Greymouth – assistant priest
  • 2005 – 2007: St Patrick’s Parish, Greymouth – administrator
  • 2008 – 2010: Christ the King Parish – assistant
  • 2011 – 2018: St Joseph’s Parish – parish priest
  • 2019 – 2023: St Peter Chanel Parish – parish priest

OTHER APPOINTMENTS (all in Christchurch Diocese)

  • Tertiary Chaplain 2008 – 2010
  • Clergy Trust Fund 2011 – 2021
  • Council of Priests 2009 – current
  • Chair, Council of Priests 2015 – 2023
  • College of Consultors 2014 – still current
  • Episcopal Vicar for Education 2013 – current
  • Chair, Education Council 2015 – current


  • Ordained and Installed as Bishop of Palmerston North on September 30, 2023

Episcopal Coat of Arms

My coat of arms follows a traditional structure being cloaked by a gold cross, a green biretta, with twelve tassels (six a side) which are standard for a diocesan bishop. The colours and symbols of the shield depict something of my family background along with other symbols indicating some spiritual and theological priorities for me.

Red, yellow and green are the colours of Ireland and Italy the two countries from which my Catholic heritage arises. The open scriptures and the Greek Alpha and Omega indicate the central importance of Divine Revelation, for as the Second Vatican Council teaches “that by hearing the message of salvation the whole world may believe, by believing it may hope, and by hoping it may love.” (DV 1) The scriptures are also the symbol for education and evangelisation.

The chalice with the sacred host issuing radiant above reminds us of the greatness of the Holy Eucharist and the importance of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament to my priesthood.

The Olive branch is a symbol of the country of Italy, and the symbol of peace, so important as each of us seek to discern more clearly the call of the Lord in our lives. The Tau cross, whilst often associated with the great Franciscan charism, is, in my case, the symbol of St Anthony of the Desert my Confirmation Saint and spiritual companion.

The blue and white ‘waves’ seek to depict the great river of the Catholic spiritual tradition in which I hope to immerse myself in. It is also a reminder of my baptism and an acknowledgement too of my love for the natural environment, including the Manawatu river which flows through Palmerston North, and the mystical power of the waters of the Whanganui river. In the midst of these waters can be found the twelve stars, recalling the presence of Mary, the first and the greatest of the disciples, and the mother of priests.

The verse ‘show us your light and your truth’ is taken from psalm 43, and is prayed in the hope that, as the psalmist implores, they will lead us “…to Your holy mountain, to the place where You dwell…”

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