Northern Ireland

Campaigner's ordination dream fulfilled

The dream of a campaigner for the ordination of women has been fulfilled with the installation of Rev Pat Storey as Bishop of Meath and Kildare.

Image caption Daphne Wormell stipulated in her will that the silver cross be presented to the first woman to be ordained bishop

Daphne Wormell was so sure that a woman would be one day be ordained as an Anglican bishop that she provided for it in her will.

Shortly before her death in 2001, Mrs Wormell bequeathed a silver cross to the first woman bishop of the Church of Ireland.

Described by colleagues as a determined but gentle campaigner, she first made the case for women priests in 1970, a full 20 years before the first ordinations of women in the Church of of Ireland.

In that year she wrote that "bishops may yet be bringing their husbands to Lambeth," a reference to the gathering of bishops of the Anglican Communion at Lambeth Palace, official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

And in Dublin's Christ Church Cathedral on Monday that became a strong possibility when the UK and Ireland's first woman bishop, Pat Storey, was presented with Daphne Wormell's silver cross.

Mrs Storey made Church of Ireland history when she was elected bishop last month.

She said she "felt a bit of a fraud receiving the cross," as she did not have to fight to become bishop. She described Daphne Wormell as the true trailblazer in the cause of the ordination of women.

Image caption Julia Turner helped her mother Daphne Wormell to write Daphne's biography

"I am here today because Daphne did it for me," she told the cathedral congregation. "I haven't had to fight because of all the women who did that."

"I am thankful to Daphne and those who worked with her because she paved the way for me. I hope to fulfil her desire because in 2018 I hope to bring my husband to Lambeth."

Before presenting the cross to Mrs Storey, Daphne Wormell's daughter Julia spoke of the challenges her mother, a lay reader, faced when preaching in churches around the dioceses - the tall steps up to the pulpit that were build for men, the lecterns that were out of reach for a petite woman.

Appropriately, one of the new bishop's first duties was to launch Mrs Wormell's biography, With Dignity and Grace.

Daphne Wormell was born near Calgary in Canada in 1916.

As Daphne Wallace, she came to Trinity College Dublin in 1937 where she had a remarkable undergraduate academic career, completing a four-year honours degree course in history in just over two years.

She met her husband Donald Wormell, later professor of Latin, at Trinity and they were engaged after a courtship of only a few weeks.

Mrs Wormell spent the early years of her marriage near Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire, where her husband's linguistic abilities were put to use translating decoded German messages.

Her daughter, Julia Turner, helped her write her biography which was published earlier this year.