Cardinal Thomas Stafford Williams, Archbishop emeritus of Wellington and Military Ordinary emeritus for New Zealand , was born on 20 March 1930 in Wellington and received his primary and secondary education in Catholic schools.
He studied for a Bachelor of Commerce Degree at Victoria University, Wellington, and worked for some years as an accountant. He was deeply involved in the Catholic Youth Movement (YCW) and for a period worked full-time for the movement.
In 1954 he commenced studies for the priesthood at the National Seminary, Holy Cross College in Dunedin, and in 1956 was sent to the Pontifical Urban University where he obtained a licentiate in theology.
He was ordained a priest on 20 December 1959. He then attended University College, Dublin and received a degree in social sciences.
Returning to Wellington, he served as assistant pastor and Director of Studies at the Catholic Enquiry Center, which had already brought the light of faith to many non-Catholics. He left that post when he volunteered to serve as a missionary in Western Samoa (today the Archdiocese of Samoa-Apia), where he was parish priest for 5 years.
Upon returning to Wellington at the end of 1975 he was parish priest at Porirua East, one of the Archdiocese's most multi-cultural parishes. Four years later, on 30 October 1979 he was named Archbishop of Wellington and was ordained on 20 December.
President of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, 1980-1988.
Founding President of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania, 1990-1998.
President Delegate of the Special Assembly for Oceania of the Synod of Bishops (November-December 1998).
Archbishop emeritus of Wellington, 21 March 2005.
Military Ordinary emeritus for New Zealand, 1 April 2005.
He participated in the conclave of April 2005, which elected Pope Benedict XVI.
Created and proclaimed Cardinal by St. John Paul II in the Consistory of 2 February 1983, of the Title of Gesù Divin Maestro alla Pineta Sacchetti (Jesus the Divine Teacher a Pineta Sacchetti).