Roman Catholic Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle

This article is about the modern Roman Catholic diocese. For the ancient Diocese of Hexham, see Bishop of Hexham.

Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle
Dioecesis Hagulstadensis et Novacastrensis
Country England
Territory The counties of Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, Durham including the part of Stockton unitary authority north of the River Tees.
Ecclesiastical province Liverpool
Metropolitan Archdiocese of Liverpool
Deaneries 18
Area 8,438 km2 (3,258 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2013)
181,193 (7.8%)
Parishes 170
Denomination Roman Catholic
Rite Latin Rite
Established 29 September 1850
(As Hexham)
23 May 1861
(As Hexham and Newcastle)
Cathedral St Mary's Cathedral
Secular priests 194
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Bishop Seamus Cunningham
Metropolitan Archbishop Malcolm McMahon
Vicar General Martin Stempczyk
Episcopal Vicars
  • Jeff Dodds
  • Simon Lerche
  • Ian Hoskins
  • Keith Walker
  • Colm Hayden

The Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle within the Province of Liverpool

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle is a Roman Catholic diocese of the Latin Rite centred on St Mary's Cathedral in the city of Newcastle upon Tyne in England. The diocese is one of the six suffragan sees in the ecclesiastical Province of Liverpool and covers much of North-East England.


The Diocese of Hexham was revived in 1850 by decree of Pope Pius IX, restoring the Catholic hierarchy to England and Wales. Although the ancient See of Hexham was founded in 678 it had later lapsed. Together with the See of Lindisfarne, founded by Saint Aidan, Hexham formed the main part of the Northumbrian kingdom's ecclesiastical structure. Among the early bishops elected to the see in 684 was Saint Cuthbert, the present-day patron of the modern diocese and, later, Acca of Hexham.

The modern diocese was expanded to include the title of Newcastle in 1861. Originally under the metropolitan See of Westminster, the diocese became part of the new Province of Liverpool (often referred to as the Northern Province) in 1911.

On the restoration of the diocese in 1850, Pius IX appointed Bishop William Hogarth, Vicar Apostolic of the Northern District, to be the first bishop of the diocese. The Parish Church of Saint Mary, Newcastle upon Tyne, designed by Augustus Welby Pugin, was selected as the seat for the new bishop, gaining cathedral status.

In 1924, Pope Pius XI withdrew the old counties of Cumberland and Westmorland to incorporate them into a newly created Diocese of Lancaster. For this reason, the Lancaster diocese still considers St Cuthbert as one of its principal patrons. Other territory was taken from the Archdiocese of Liverpool to form the new see.


The modern Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle comprises the counties of Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and County Durham. In this respect, it comprises three cities: Newcastle upon Tyne, Durham and Sunderland.

The diocesan curia and chancery are officially based at Bishop's House, East Denton Hall, in the west-end of Newcastle. However, the tribunal and other commissions are actually based at the nearby curial offices at St Vincent's in St Cuthbert's House.

The diocese is also home to the regional seminary for the north of England, Ushaw College, near Durham. The seminary has strong links with the University of Durham which validates the degree courses offered there. The seminary is governed by the bishops of the Northern Province under the chairmanship of the Archbishop of Liverpool. However, as the local ordinary, the Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle always holds the position of Vice-Chairman of Governors.

The diocesan patrons are Our Blessed Lady Immaculate (8 December) and Saint Cuthbert, Bishop and Confessor (20 March).

Current bishop

The See of Hexham and Newcastle is held by the Right Reverend Seamus Cunningham, who succeeded the Right Reverend Kevin Dunn, who died on 1 March 2008. Bishop Dunn had succeeded the Right Reverend Ambrose Griffiths, who himself died as Bishop Emeritus on 14 June 2011, on 25 May 2004.[1]

There are presently 214 diocesan priests (57 of whom are retired) and six permanent deacons serving 183 parishes. A number of religious orders are also present in the diocese, including the Dominicans, the Passionists, the Redemptorists, the Carmelites, the Poor Clares and the Sisters of Mercy.

In 2005 Bishop Dunn reorganised the structure of the diocese and curia. He introduced five episcopal areas. These areas are arranged geographically and are known as Northumberland, Newcastle and North Tyneside, Sunderland and East Durham, South Tyneside, Gateshead and North West Durham, and Cleveland and South Durham. At the same time he appointed the man who would ultimately be his successor, Canon Seamus Cunningham, as vicar general. He also appointed a new chancellor for the curia and a new episcopal vicar for religious.

Following the death of Bishop Dunn on 1 March 2008, the College of Consultors elected Canon Seamus Cunningham as the Diocesan Administrator. On 9 January 2009 it was announced that Pope Benedict XVI had appointed him to be the new bishop of the diocese. He received his episcopal ordination on Friday, 20 March 2009 – the feast day of St. Cuthbert – the diocesan patron.[2]

See also

Notes and references

  1. Notice of Death of Bishop Kevin Dunn. BBC News website. Retrieval Date: 3 March 2008.
  2. "Press Release for the Ordination of Canon Seamus Cunningham". Roman Catholic Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. Retrieved 20 March 2009.

Coordinates: 54°58′08″N 1°37′08″W / 54.969°N 1.619°W / 54.969; -1.619

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