Farewell Shiremoor, Kia Ora New Zealand!
The Reverend Dr Tony Curtis, vicar of St Mark’s Shiremoor, is about to take up an exciting new role – 11,000 miles away!
Tony, who has been at Shiremoor since 2013, has been appointed the new Dean of the Cathedral Church of St Paul in Dunedin, New Zealand. It follows the retirement of the Cathedral’s former Dean, the Very Reverend Dr Trevor James last year.
Tony, his wife Rachel and their two children Gabriel and Ziva are hoping to move from the North East to New Zealand as soon as visas and accommodation can be arranged.
“Over the years I‘ve found myself saying to people that just when you think you’ve got things sorted, and you’re quite comfortable, God comes around and turns things upside down and says ‘No, forget that, I’m going to send you somewhere new, give you a new challenge, and it’ll be great,’” explains Tony. “Having said that to everyone else, I thought it would be a bit rude if God came along and did it to me and I didn’t listen.”
Tony says of St Paul’s Cathedral that “it’s a beautiful building right in the heart of the City Centre, with lots of potential for outreach, and the Diocese and the Cathedral community have already given us a very warm welcome, so I’m looking forward to getting started.”
So what is Dunedin like?
“It’s right down there in the south of New Zealand’s South Island, so it’s quite literally the furthest city in the world from Newcastle, which is going to be a pull for me, but it’s a beautiful part of the world - the Diocese is huge and has a lot of landscapes that people will recognise from the Lord of the Rings! The city itself is a coastal city, a University town with lots of culture and arts, so not too different from Newcastle.
“Dunedin comes from the Gaelic name for Edinburgh and was founded by a free Scottish community spiritually led by Robbie Burns’ nephew, so there’s a big tradition of Scottish and North East Heritage there and people are proud of that link.
Once he takes up his new role, Tony will also work closely with other faiths, something he has strong experience of in Newcastle Diocese. Just a year ago, 51 people died in the Christchurch mosque attacks with the killer living in Dunedin – something that shocked the community.
“People in Dunedin were shocked to learn that the killer had spent some time in Dunedin before the attack took place and it’s made people think about how we look after each other as communities and really given new impetus to that interfaith aspect. That’s something I’ve been involved with a lot in Newcastle with Lesley Hillary, Bishop Christine’s advisor, and our colleagues and friends from different faiths, and I’d really like to build on that in Dunedin, and show how we’re stronger together when people of faith can support each other.”
Although excited about his new challenge, Tony will miss Newcastle Diocese.
“We’re really going to miss people. I’m going to miss all sorts about the North East - we’re going from one of the most beautiful and special parts of God’s kingdom and I think we’re just lucky that I’ve been called to serve somewhere that can make the same claim.
Tony is unlikely to have a shortage of visitors from the UK when he starts his new role, such is the excitement about his move. “I have had one or two offers from people who’d like to come and do some chaplaincy work or maybe visit for a few months!”
Commenting on his appointment, the Bishop of Dunedin Steven Bedford said: “I believe Father Tony will be an asset to the ongoing life of the Cathedral and will contribute positively to both the Diocese and the wider New Zealand Church. I am delighted to be able to welcome Fr Tony, Rachel and their family to the Diocese."