St Mary's

St Mary's Roman Catholic Church


Bishop Seàmus Cunningham

Bishop Seàmus Cunningham was ordained 13th Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle and installed in St Mary’s Cathedral Church, Newcastle on 20th March 2009, the feast of St Cuthbert, patron of the diocese.

Bishop Seàmus Cunningham was born on 7 July 1942 at Castlebar, Co Mayo, Ireland, he was educated at local schools, which included St Nathy’s College, Ballaghaderreen at which Bishop James Cunningham (1957-1974) had also been a student for a short time.

Seàmus Cunningham studied for the priesthood at St John’s College, Waterford, where he was ordained priest for the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle on 12 June 1966.

He began as assistant priest in Our Lady and St Joseph’s parish, Brooms, in North West Durham, from September 1966 until August 1971.

From 1971 – 1972 he was at English Martyrs, Newcastle upon Tyne.  Then he spent one year, 1972 – 1973, at the new Corpus Christi College, London, preparing to begin work as a Diocesan Religious Education and Catechetics adviser, he returned to live and work in the Cathedral but also visited our schools throughout the diocese.

In 1978 he succeeded Father Leo Pyle as Director of Religious Education in the diocese and also as Chaplain to St Mary’s Teaching Training College of the Sacred Heart of Education at Fenham.

From 1984 to 1987 he spent three years as Spiritual Director to students for the priesthood at Ushaw College, Durham.

In 1987 he returned to St Mary’s Cathedral where he was to spend the next 10 years as Administrator and Parish Priest.  He was appointed to the Chapter of Canons shortly afterwards.

He moved to the parish of St Oswin’s, Tynemouth and St Mary’s, Cullercoats in 1998 after a short sabbatical in the States.

Bishop Ambrose Griffiths appointed him one of four Vicars General in 2001.

In 2004 Bishop Kevin Dunn appointed Canon Cunningham as the sole Vicar General.  He held this post until Bishop Kevin’s death on 1 March 2008.  He was with Bishop Kevin and his family throughout Bishop Kevin's illness and death, and was elected Diocesan Administrator on 2 March 2008.

He was ordained 13th Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle on 20th March 2009 by Liverpool’s Archbishop Patrick Kelly, Metropolitan of the Northern Province.

Bishop Seàmus Cunningham inside St. Mary's Cathedral

Bishop Seàmus Cunningham inside St. Mary's Cathedral

Parish Priest: Fr. Christopher Warren

Fr. Christopher Warren has been Parish Priest of St. Mary's, Hexham since September 2011.

Fr. Christopher comes from Chester-le-Street in County Durham where he attended school, prior to his seminary formation at Ushaw College in Durham. Following his Priestly Ordination by Bishop Kevin Dunn at Saint Mary's Cathedral, Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 2005, he was appointed Assistant Priest at Holy Family, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Anne's Parishes in Darlington. This was followed by five years as Assistant Priest at Saint Mary's Cathedral in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Fr. Christopher is Partnership Dean of the Heavenfield Partnership of Parishes, Parish Priest of St. Mary's, Hexham (including Corbridge and Swinburne), St. Oswald's, Bellingham and St. Peter's, Otterburn.

He is a regular pilgrim to Lourdes and is also a member of the Equestrian Order of the Most Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

Fr. Christopher Warren

Fr. Christopher Warren

Assistant Priest: Fr. Peter Stoddart

Fr. Peter Stoddart was Ordained to the Priesthood By Bishop Seàmus Cunningham at St. Mary's Cathedral, Newcastle-upon-Tyne on 22nd July 2017.

Fr Peter took up his position as Assistant Priest at St. Mary's on 1st September 2017.

Permanent Deacon: Reverend Martin Bell

Martin was ordained Permanent Deacon in June 2016, spent his initial months in ministry at St Elizabeth’s, Minsteracres and arrived at St Mary’s Hexham in February 2017.

He is married with three children. His day job is as a practice manager of a large doctor’s surgery in County Durham.

He firmly believes in the adage: ‘if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans’; therefore, one of Martin’s aims in life is to stop making plans! He describes himself as a “practising Catholic....hoping to get it right one day.”

His personal and academic interests are in spirituality and scripture. The idea of diaconal service is very keen for Martin, and he simply wants to be of service to the Lord through the life and witness of both St Mary’s and the wider Hexham community.

Reverend Martin Bell

Reverend Martin Bell

Parish Secretary: Judith Chaffey

Judith has been in post as Parish Secretary at St. Mary's since the beginning of March 2016.

A parishioner of St. Mary's, she lives in Corbridge with her husband Ian.

Prior to taking up her post at St. Mary's, Judith's work background was initially pharmacy, specialising in manufacture and quality assurance, before moving into teaching and training within the pharmacy sector. In the past, Judith has worked as Dispensary Manager at Hexham General Hospital and has been Aseptic Services Manager for Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, based at Wansbeck Hospital, as well as completing several audits and research projects within the mental health sector. Immediately prior to working at St. Mary's, Judith was Lead Internal Quality Assurer for many of the training programmes provided by the National Pharmacy Association.

In her spare time, Judith likes reading, gardening and walking, as well as taking holidays in the Scottish Highlands.

Judith Chaffey

Judith Chaffey

Youth Ministry Co-ordinator: Thomas Carrott

Thomas was appointed Youth Ministry Coordinator for the partnerships of Brinkburn and Heavenfield in February 2018, and took up the position on 8th May.

He is originally from Hedley on the Hill, but moved to Alston as a child, attending school in Alston and then in Haydon Bridge for sixth form, and attending Mass at St. John of Beverley, Haydon Bridge. After reading theology at St Benet’s Hall, Oxford, he recently moved back to Northumberland with his wife, Rebecca, whom he met and married in Oxford; they now live in Haydon Bridge.

Thomas is excited to start his new position, and to work with volunteers throughout the two partnerships’ parishes to engage young people and to help them grow as disciples of Christ, in love with Him and His Church.

In his spare time, Thomas enjoys reading, being a particular fan of J. R. R. Tolkien’s works, hiking throughout the north of England and the Scottish Highlands, playing board and tabletop games, and, most of all, cooking and baking for his family and friends.

Thomas Carrott

Thomas Carrott