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Church of Ireland Appoints First Women Bishop

By Sarah Mac Donald - 21 September, 2013


Bishop-elect Pat Storey

The Church of Ireland’s first ever woman bishop has said she is “delighted to have been asked to become Bishop of Meath and Kildare” though she realises her gender may be an issue for some people.

Bishop-elect Pat Storey (53) told CatholicIreland.net on Friday that her priority in her new role would be to do a lot of listening.

Revd Storey is married to Rev Earl Storey, who is also a Church of Ireland clergyman, and they have two adult children, Carolyn (25) and Luke (22). She is currently Rector of St Augustine’s Parish in Derry.

She succeeds the Church of Ireland Primate, Archbishop Richard Clarke of Armagh, in Meath and Kildare. 

Bishop-elect Storey is the first woman appointed to an Episcopal role since the Church of Ireland General Synod voted in 1990 to open up the priesthood and episcopate to women, ahead of the Church of England, which still has no women bishops.

“To be appointed Bishop is amazing and to be the Church of Ireland’s first woman Bishop is equally amazing,” she said.

“I feel I bring qualities as a person first and foremost. I do happen to be a woman but that’s not the big deal for me today,” she said of her appointment. She expressed the hope that people would find her “approachable, kind and spiritual.”

Asked about the possible impact of her appointment on the Church of England and traditionalists within the Anglican Communion, the bishop-elect told CatholicIreland.net, “I have no idea how this might impact on other churches. I’m having enough trouble digesting it myself!”

She said she would be sad to leave Derry, a “wonderful city” and was both “excited and daunted by this new adventure.”

The House of Bishops of the Church of Ireland met on Thursday in Dublin and appointed the Rev Storey to succeed the Most Revd Dr Richard Clarke, who is now Archbishop of Armagh.

The appointment of the new bishop had passed to the House of Bishops as the Episcopal Electoral College which met on 28 May failed to appoint a Bishop for Meath and Kildare dioceses.

Responding to the appointment, Archbishop Clarke, said, “Having known Pat Storey since she was an undergraduate and I was Chaplain at Trinity College, Dublin, I very much welcome her as a new bishop.”

“She is a person of great warmth, intelligence and spiritual depth and I am certain that her ministry in the Dioceses of Meath and Kildare and the wider Church will be a blessing to many.”

Rev Storey is a former Weightwatchers Leader and Assistant PR officer and her interests include her golden retriever Rudi, as well as swimming, reading and creative writing.

Bishop-elect Story grew up in East Belfast and studied French and English at Trinity College, Dublin. She trained at the Church of Ireland Theological College and was ordained a priest in 1998.

She has served in Ballymena and was a vicar in Glenavy as well as a part-time Youth Worker Co-ordinator with the Church of Ireland Youth Department.

The Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson, Archbishop of Dublin, welcomed the news. In a statement, he said the election of Rev Storey would bring delight to many across the Church of Ireland and throughout the Anglican Communion.

“Pat herself brings to this work of God a warm personality and a breadth of spiritual gifts to share generously in the church and in the community.”

The Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, the Right Revd Ken Good, under whom Rev Storey has been serving, said he was “convinced” she would be “an excellent bishop.”

He paid tribute to her “effective” ministry in Derry, her warmth, deep personal faith and “natural ability to relate to people” which had enabled her to make a significant impact throughout the city.

The appointment of Bishop-elect Story follows the decision by Archdeacon Leslie Stevenson to decline the role following his selection last January.

His decision followed revelations last February of an affair in the 1990s with a parishioner while rector at Donaghadee, Co Down.

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