New Zealand Catholic Bishops pay tribute to Bishop John Mackey

The New Zealand Catholic Bishops offer their condolences on the passing of Emeritus Bishop of Auckland, Bishop John Mackey, who died peacefully yesterday at St Joseph’s Home in Auckland.

“We would like to extend our sympathies to all those who knew Bishop Mackey, especially his family, friends, and the Catholic community. At 96 years old he’d lived a long and fruitful life, characterised by his faithful service in priestly ministry which spanned 72 years, said Archbishop John Dew, President of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference.

The ninth Bishop of Auckland, from 1974 to 1983, Bishop Mackey became the first New Zealander to have been ordained to the episcopate by a Pope, when he was ordained by Pope Paul VI at St Peter's Basilica in Rome on June 30, 1974.

“Praised as having one of the greatest minds of our Church, he devoted his intellect in service of the Church and her people, especially in the area of Catholic education, including teaching at the Seminary, Holy Cross College in Mosgiel, said Archbishop John.

“In 1952, after being awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, he did two years of post-graduate study at the University of Notre Dame in the United States. From 1952 to 1971, he was diocesan inspector of Catholic schools in Auckland, a position equivalent to the Director of Catholic Education, he said.

Fr Mackey obtained a PhD in 1963, with his doctoral dissertation later published as “The Making of a State Education System”. It dealt with events leading up to the passing of the Education Act in 1877. The book became a prescribed text for education students in New Zealand. Fr Mackey also played a major role in preparing the Catholic submissions for the Currie Royal Commission on Education. He also served on a UNESCO committee on education.

During his time as bishop, he was at the forefront of negotiations over integration and early implementation of the Private Schools Conditional Integration Act 1975 which led to the continuation of Catholic Schooling in New Zealand.

Bishop John Mackey will be solemnly received into the Cathedral on Friday 24 January at 7.30pm with Vigil Prayers and the sharing of memories He will lie in state over the weekend Masses, and his Requiem will be at 11am on Monday 27th January.