Cathedral Service to Commemorate 30 Years of Women Priests

St Edmundsbury Cathedral will hold a special service on 2 June at 3.30 pm celebrating the 30th anniversary of Ordination of Women in Suffolk.


It has been 30 years since women were first ordained as Priests in Suffolk in 1994. Since then, the county has been at the forefront of progress, with female clergy now making up half of all priests in Ipswich. Across Suffolk there are currently a total of 50 women clergy now serving their communities, making up 42% of all stipendiary priests across the county.

The Dean of Women’s Ministry in the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich diocese, the Rev’d Ali Miller, will preside at the service, with Bishop Martin acting as the Deacon of the Eucharist. Many of those ordained in 1994 will be present at the service. There will be an ‘in conversation’ portion of the service, where the Cathedral will welcome guests Clare Sanders (one of those ordained in 1994), Sharon Potter (a current incumbent) and Catriona Brinkley (a current recently ordained curate).


The Very Rev’d Catherine Ogle, Dean of Winchester, will be the preacher at the service: Catherine has served on the College Council of the College of the Resurrection, Mirfield and was Dean of Birmingham until 2017. Catherine grew up just outside Cambridge and went to Leeds University to study Textiles. Six years later in response to a call to ordained ministry she returned to Cambridge and studied at Westcott House and then served a three-year curacy in South Leeds as a deacon. She was seconded as a journalist to BBC Leeds while waiting for the change in legislation that enabled her to be among the first women to be ordained priest in 1994. Rural ministry followed, as Vicar of Woolley, and then ten years of town centre ministry as Vicar of Huddersfield.  She became Dean of Birmingham in 2010 and then Dean of Winchester.


The Rev’d Canon Philip Banks, Precentor at St Edmundsbury Cathedral, says, “Alleluia! This service will be deeply moving and joyful. We will look back in sorrow that it took us so long to allow women to take their rightful place as priests in God’s church. We will give heartfelt thanks for all that has been achieved since 1994 in helping to make our churches signs of God’s capacious, inclusive heart of love, serving our communities across Suffolk. And we will look forward, as we continue to welcome all, irrespective of gender, race or orientation, to follow their calling and vocation to serve God’s church in the future. We look forward to welcoming everyone to the Cathedral this June to celebrate with us.”