St Mary's

St Mary's Roman Catholic Church


Bishop Robert Byrne

Bishop Robert Byrne Cong. Orat.(Congregation of the Oratory of St Philip Neri), latterly Auxilliary of Birmingham and Titular Bishop of Cuncacaestre (Chester-le-Street) was appointed by Pope Francis as the 14th Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle on 4th February 2019.

Bishop Byrne's Episcopal Installation was celebrated by the Most Rev. Malcolm McMahon, Archbishop of Liverpool on Monday 25th March 2019, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, at the Cathedral Church of St. Mary's in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Please pray for Bishop Byrne.

Born in Manchester in September 1956, Bishop Byrne entered Birmingham Oratory in 1980 and was ordained to the priesthood in January 1985.

In 1990, he was part of a group from Birmingham who moved to St. Aloysius parish, Oxford, to found what was to become the Oxford Oratory in 1993. He served as Provost from 1993-2011.

In 2012, Bishop Byrne was appointed Secretary to the Bishops’ Conference Department of Dialogue and Unity having served as a prison chaplain for over 35 years.

Bishop Byrne was Ordained an Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Birmingham in St. Chad's Cathedral on Tuesday 13 May 2014.

Bishop Robert Byrne Cong. Orat.

Bishop Robert Byrne Cong. Orat.

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. James Dunne

Fr. Jim writes ...

           I was born in January 1948 (yes, that long ago!) and grew up in the Wallsend & Howdon areas of what is now North Tyneside (then, Northumberland). I went to St Cuthbert’s Grammar School in 1959, then, after ‘A’ Levels in 1965, I entered the senior seminary at Ushaw College. During my six years there, I spent three at Durham University. Those were six years of enormous change at Ushaw, the Church in general, and in all of our society. I was ordained in the old church of St Aidan, Willington Quay, on 30th October 1971.  

          In January 1972, I was appointed as curate at Houghton-le-Spring in Co Durham. In September 1972, I was sent to teach at St Cuthbert’s Grammar (later High) School, Newcastle, where I remained until the Summer of 1989. By then, I was the last priest-teacher in the diocese. Full-time teaching, with laypeople as colleagues, and later, as ‘boss’, had a huge impact on my relationships with the laity in the Church – I see us as collaborators in one single purpose.

          The Summer of 1989 saw me move to be parish priest at St Patrick’s, Consett, then the biggest congregation in the diocese (about 1250 at Mass). I was there for 11 years, leaving in 2000, to go south to Newton Aycliffe.  Then unexpectedly, I was moved at short notice to Sacred Heart, North Gosforth, in February 2008, a month after my 60th birthday.

        Although the move was a shock, I easily settled in. Many of the parishioners knew me from my teaching days, and I quickly became involved as a school governor of St Oswald’s Primary School, and of the Sacred Heart Girls’ High School. I’ve been very happy these last 12+ years: the parishioners are kind, gifted and involved. We have succeeded in getting young people to serve at Mass, and, from Year 5 up, to join the adult Sunday reading teams.

        The main feature of North Gosforth parish has been the growth of new housing: the Newcastle Great Park is now a town-in-itself; other areas north of Newcastle (mostly in the parish) are also being greatly expanded. This has given many new parishioners but also needed a big expenditure of energy. That’s been the problem. Since I turned 70, the parish has gradually become too much for me, with a greatly increased number of baptismal enquiries, and First Communions (32 were meant to be done this summer).  Some months ago, Bishop Robert, aware of this, asked me to go to one of the smaller Northumber-land parishes, and “help out” the priest in the larger hub; this turned out to be Bellingham, helping Fr Chris there, as well as in Hexham and Haydon Bridge.

        Despite my age (72-and-a-half), I hope can offer something to your scattered communities. I do have health issues with asthma and arthritis - plus deafness! But (thank God) I am still mentally fairly alert, and I’ve kept the sense of humour that got me through awkward times in teaching.  On my Tuesday day-off, lay friends and I usually walk in Northumberland & North West Durham – we were in the North Tyne Valley last Autumn, so I’m used to the roads in the area. The photo will show me as a big, bald bloke – so if you see me around, do stop and say hello. Please be assured that, whatever I still have, I’ll do my best to give it to you. 

Fr. James Dunne

Fr. James Dunne

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