That’s what I am! No, I haven’t started counting my age (rapidly!) backwards. It is twenty one years ago today since I was ordained priest.
It was a wonderful day. I was ordained with twenty five other women at Lichfield Cathedral and that same evening I celebrated the Eucharist for the first time in Shrewsbury Abbey. I was among the first women ordained in this country – the very first had been ordained a month earlier at Bristol – and I broke a tradition of over nine hundred years by being the first woman celebrant at Shrewsbury Abbey, founded over nine hundred years ago as a monastery for men.
These years have been eventful. I served a further year at Shrewsbury Abbey before becoming Rector of five small parishes here in Lincolnshire. I have been chaplain to the High Sheriff of the county, chaplain to an ex-servicemen’s association and chaplain to the chair of our District Council. I have visited in prisons, hospitals and many, many homes. I have sat with the dying, prepared couples for their weddings and blessed and baptised tiny babies.
Five years ago ill health forced me to retire very early and I thought that my priestly ministry would come to an end. For a while I was unable to exercise a public ministry as I was carer for my sister who was dying of cancer and emotionally I was stressed out, but for the last four years I have donned the dog collar every Sunday and again I am preaching the Good News of God’s love.
One day I shall not be needed for this sort of ministry for God continues to call younger people and indeed one day he will call me to heaven but I give thanks that for the past twenty one years I have been able to serve him in this way.