Wales celebrates its women priests

10 January 2007

by Bill Bowder

Ten years on: women who were ordained on 11 January 1997 gather with the Bishop of Monmouth; the Revd Dr Una Kroll is on his left

Ten years on: women who were ordained on 11 January 1997 gather with the Bishop of Monmouth; the Revd Dr Una Kroll is on his left

DIOCESES throughout Wales are celebrating the tenth anniversary of the ordination of women to the priesthood in the Church in Wales, which falls this weekend. On 11 and 12 January 1997, ordination services took place in all six Welsh cathedrals.

The Bishop of St Davids, the Rt Revd Karl Cooper, who was once an opponent of the priesting of women, said that his experience of working with women priests had made him change his mind.

  “It now feels as if the Church of the past was incomplete,” he said.

  Last Saturday, the first woman priest to be ordained in St Wollos’ Cathedral, Newport, the Revd Dr Una Kroll, preached at St Mary’s, Monmouth. Dr Kroll, an early campaigner for women’s ordination, recalled in her sermon that the chaplain who had taken the rehearsal on the day in 1970 when she was made deaconess in Southwark Cathedral, was the present Bishop of Monmouth, the Rt Revd Dominic Walker, OGS.

Bishop Walker, who presided, said women who served as priests in the diocese had “brought to the Church gifts of their own, and their ministries are widely accepted by the people they serve”.

On Tuesday 23 January, the Church of Sweden’s first woman bishop, the Rt Revd Christina Odenberg, the Bishop of Lund, will preside in Llandaff Cathedral at the provincial celebrations of the ordinations. The Revd Jan Gould, who is helping to organise the service, said the liturgy would be “upbeat and refreshingly new”.

Bishop Odenberg is also due to speak at a conference on women’s ministry at St Michael’s College, Llandaff, on 22-24 January. Among other speakers will be Canon Mary Stallard of St Asaph Cathedral, and Professor Mary Grey from the University of Lampeter.

The Governing Body of the Church in Wales is due to hold a debate on the question of women bishops at its meeting in April.

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