On July 4, Independence Day in the United States, American Bryan Buenger was ordained to the priesthood in Palmerston North.

Bryan Buenger kneels before Bishop Charles Drennan and Emeritus Bishop Owen Dolan during the ordination ceremony. Photo by Sue Seconi
Bryan Buenger kneels
before Bishop Charles
Drennan and Emeritus
Bishop Owen Dolan during
the ordination ceremony. Photo by Sue Seconi

Fr Buenger, who had worked as an international flight attendant and a secondary school teacher, came from the United States to New Zealand in July 2005 and had a strong sense that
this country was where he needed to be.
After a time of discernment in Gilbert, Arizona, where he helped in pastoral work at St Anne’s Church as well as completing some studies in theology, he contacted the bishops of New Zealand
about entering the seminary here.
Bishop Charles Drennan of Palmerston North diocese invited him to join Holy Cross Seminary
in Auckland.
He completed a BA in Theology and, as part of his training, had pastoral placements in the parishes of Hawera, Inglewood, Waitara, and North Taranaki and, most recently, in several Tararua parishes, under the guidance of Fr Brian Walsh, parish priest and vicar-general of the
diocese. The new priest will probably not be lost for words.
Several years ago, seminarian Bryan Buenger was awarded the top National Scholarship in Professional Speaking.
He gained a Diploma in Professional Speaking (with distinction) and the following year received the Busby Ramshaw Grice Award for Professional Speaking.
Mr Buenger said at the time that he had worked in a number of roles that required public speaking, including a personnel role for a large bank, being a flight attendant and being a secondary school teacher.
“But none of them has been as important as the job I am in training for at this time in my life,” he said.
With Bishop Charles Drennan presiding, the ordination ceremony was a celebration where bishops, priests, Fr Buenger’s fellow seminarians and parishioners joined in worship to pray for the new priest at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit.
After Mass the congregation met at the Diocesan Centre to congratulate the new priest and enjoy refreshments.
Jim Vercoe Austing is a parishioner of St Joseph’s, Dannevirke.


  1. I was blessed and honored to be present at Fr. Bryan’s ordination to the priesthood. Having known Fr. Bryan for most of my life, it was an incredible experience to attend his lifelong commitment to God’s work in New Zealand. I met many of his new family in the diocese, including his mentor Fr. Brian and Bishop Charles. Bryan is in very good company. May God continue to bless Pa Bryan’s ministry and his service to those he meets!