Monday, March 31, 2008
Celebrating the ordination of Florence Li Tim-Oi
In 1944, faced with a situation in the diocese of Hong Kong that called for pastoral care, Bishop Ronald Hall ordained Ms. Li to the priesthood. Although this action was well received in the diocese, it caused a storm of protest in the wider communion and pressure was brought to bear on the bishop, requesting that she relinquish the title and role of a priest.
When Ms. Li became aware of the concern of the wider church and of the pressure on Bishop Hall, she did not get angry and leave the church but made the decision to resign the exercise of her ministry in 1946. For the next 39 years, she served faithfully under very difficult circumstances, particularly after the Communists took over mainland China.
In 1983, arrangements were made for her to come to Canada where she was appointed as an honorary assistant at St. John's Chinese congregation and St. Matthew's parish in Toronto.
The Anglican Church of Canada had by this time approved the ordination of women to the priesthood and in 1984, the 40th anniversary of her ordination; Ms. Li was, with great joy and thanksgiving, reinstated as a priest.
This event was celebrated not only in Canada but also at Westminster Abbey and at Sheffield in England even though the Church of England had not yet approved the ordination of women.
From that date until her death in 1992, she exercised her priesthood with such faithfulness and quiet dignity that she won tremendous respect for herself and increasing support for other women seeking ordination.
We celebrated the life and ministry of the Rev. Dr. Florence Li Tim-Oi in chapel today. Sr. Ellen Francis who wrote the icon, preached. We also installed in chapel the icon written by Sr. Ellen Francis shown above.