The left-hand side of the shield is retained from Bishop Michael Malone, the previous Bishop of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. It represents the diocese itself: wheat for Maitland and the interior, Nobby's Lighthouse for Newcastle and the coast and a blue Hunter River flowing through.
The right-hand (personal) side of the shield carries two images. The Sun device, emblem of the Society of Jesus, acknowledges the importance of the Jesuits in Bishop Wright's early life and education. The sun, an allusion to an early mystical experience of the Trinity that St Ignatius described as like gazing into the sun, surrounds the IHS Christogram, the first letters of 'Jesus' in Greek, and the cross and nails of Christ's passion.
The other image, the open book, could be taken as a reference to the scriptures, but is in fact intended to represent the study of history that has played a large part in the bishop's life. The patron saint of church historians is Saint Bede the Venerable, whose emblem, in common with other scholar/writer saints, is the open book.
The motto In Principio Verbum is taken from the first words of John's Gospel, In the beginning [was] the Word. From that context, the motto stresses that our faith is built on Christ himself, the Word of the Father. In its shortened form, In the beginning, the Word, the motto is also intended to signify the importance of the Bible: that we do not make up the Christian faith according to our own lights, but are to be challenged to respond to all that God has given to us in scripture and tradition.
Finally, the motto is intended to remind the bishop that his first duty is to preach the Good News, as the Latin will also happily bear the translation, ‘In the first place, the Word’.