Death of Bishop Bill Wright
Bishop William (Bill) Wright died today, Saturday 13 November, in Maitland Hospital having succumbed to lung cancer at the age of 69.
Bishop Bill announced his ill health and confirmed he had submitted his resignation to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, in September this year. Whilst he had confirmed his ill health, the speed of Bishop Bill’s death was unexpected. The Diocese offers its prayers and sympathies to Bishop Bill’s family.
Bishop Bill was ordained eighth Bishop of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle on 15 June 2011 at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Hamilton.
Acknowledging his death, Rev Andrew Doohan, Vicar General of the Diocese, said “Bishop Bill was a warm, considered and deeply faithful man, he was always dedicated to the people of the Diocese and I know he served as an inspiration, not only for many of our clergy but also those in the places he served. He will be greatly missed.”
“Bishop Bill was an active and respected member of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. He made major contributions to the Church and the wider communities in which he ministered.”
Leading the Diocese during a period when it faced the terrible truths of historic child sexual abuse that occurred within the Diocese and the failures of some of its past leaders to protect children from abuse, Bishop Bill was recognised as an important figure in supporting survivors and introducing reforms to help the Catholic Church respond to the issue of child sexual abuse.
Rev Andrew Doohan, Vicar General of the Diocese, said “Bishop Bill recognised the pain of the victims and their families, he acknowledged this and made an abiding commitment to promote the safety, welfare and wellbeing of children and vulnerable adults. Bishop Bill’s work to support survivors is part of his legacy.”
The Funeral Mass for the Most Rev William Wright, Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle, will be held at 10.30am on Wednesday 24 November at Sacred Heart Cathedral – attendance is by invitation only.
Due to COVID restrictions, capacity in the Cathedral is limited and attendance for the Funeral Mass is by invitation only. All attendees will be registered beforehand and must provide evidence of their COVID vaccination certificate for entry.
Following the Funeral Mass, refreshments for guests will follow in the Southern Cross Hall. At 1.30pm, the cortege will travel from Newcastle to St John’s Oratory in Maitland for the Rites of Committal.
Photos of the Funeral Mass will be made available to media outlets, please contact Elizabeth Snedden to advise your interest to receive these.
The Funeral Mass will be livestreamed and will be available here on the day.
Most Rev William Joseph Wright BTh, BA(Hons), DD Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle
Bishop Bill was born in Washington DC in the United States, before his family returned to Australia when he was young. He was educated by the Sisters of Mercy at Pymble and by the Jesuits at St Aloysius' College, Milsons Point, with two years at Wimbledon College, another Jesuit school, when his family was posted to London, England.
He was educated for priesthood at St Columba's College, Springwood (1971‐73) and St Patrick's College, Manly (1974‐77).
Bill Wright was ordained to the diaconate in October 1976 and to the priesthood on 20 August 1977 at St Mary's Cathedral. After ordination, he gained a BA(Hons), largely in History, at Sydney University.
He has served the parishes of Stanmore, Mount Druitt, Fairfield, Enmore, Dulwich Hill, Bonnyrigg, Moree, Sutherland and Liverpool. In addition, Bishop Bill was Vice-Rector of St Patrick’s College, Manly (1985-1991) and Assistant Secretary to the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, in Canberra, in 1995.
Bishop Bill was ordained eighth Bishop of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle by the former Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, on 15 June 2011 at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Hamilton.
Since his ordination as Bishop, he has served as the Co-Chair of the National Committee for Professional Standards. He was a member of the Truth Justice and Healing Council throughout its existence (2013-18). He has been a member of the Bishops Commission for Church Ministry and the Bishops Commission for Ecumenism and Inter-Religious Relations and was a member of the Bishops Commission for Evangelisation Laity and Ministry and the Bishops Commission for Social Justice, Mission and Service. He was Chair of the Bishops Commission for Professional Standards and Safeguarding.
Bishop Bill submitted his resignation to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, in September 2021.