Florence Li Tim-Oi – Celebrating 70 years since her ordination

I’m just off to celebrate a Eucharist because it is a Feast Day – the Conversion of St Paul. The standard, if rather weak, in-joke is that one is going to pray for the Conversion of St Paul rather than simply remember the Conversion of St Paul – not least because Paul had things to say that have not been terribly helpful to a modern world where women and men are equal.

As I celebrate the feast today I’m going to be remembering with thanksgiving this woman: The Rev Florence Li Tim-Oi and celebrating 70 years since her ordination.

Florence Li Tim-Oi

She was the first woman to be made a priest in the Anglican Communion and today is 70 years since it happened. It happened in wartime when there were no men around and it happened secretly and without the permission of synods and decision-making bodies simply, I suspect because they couldn’t meet at the time.

The most extraordinary thing about Mother Florence is that once the war was over, she gave up her license to act as a priest (but not her orders) until such time as her church accepted the principle that women and men could equally be regarded as priests. In her part of the world, that meant waiting until 1971.

I can’t imagine what it was like to wait so many years to be treated as an equal.

No, wait a minute.

I can.