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On the 52nd anniversary (January 25th, 2006) of the ordination of Florence Li Tim-Oi, the first woman to the priesthood of the Anglican Communion, the Order of St. Vincent at St. Martin’s in Pompano Beach had a Celebration Eucharist in her honor. The Rev. Florence Li Tim-Oi became a deaconess in 1931 and became the deacon in charge of an Anglican congregation in 1941. Because of the occupation of China by the Japanese in WWII, no priests could serve in the occupied country. Li Tim-Oi traveled through occupied territory to a meeting in the free part of China were the Bishop of Hong Kong ordained her to the priesthood so that the Eucharist could be given to the people where Li Tim-Oi served. After the war, Li Tim-Oi had to give up her license to serve as a priest, because she was a woman, but she did not renounce her ordination. During the cultural revolution she was jailed for her work as a priest and worked in work camps until she was able to leave China for Canada where here ordination to the priesthood was recognized and she served until her death.

Before the service began, Lee Davis, parishioner, announced that the service was not only to celebrate Li Tim-Oi’s ordination but was to celebrate the ministries of all woman clergy and all women in the Church; a time to come together to give thanks and remember the struggle of women and to pray that women everywhere would be able to live fully into the ministries that God calls them to. All of the servers at the altar were women and Madeline Zung, organist at St. Martin’s chose hymns from the hymnal Voices Found, a collection of hymns written by women.

Archdeacon Mary Gray-Reeves was celebrant, which was concelebrated with twelve ordained women clergy from the diocese; Deacon Patricia Masterman was the Deacon of the Mass. The prayers of the people were taken from a service held in the honor of Florence Li Tim-Oi at St. Martin-In-The-Fields in London. The first woman ordained in our Diocese, Canon Winnie Bolle gave the homily. In her homily Canon Bolle reflected on the life of Li Tim-Oi and on how she herself had come to realize a calling to ministry. She imagined that Florence, like herself, had the life long yearning to serve God and that God had already assured her that ways of ministry would open up to her regardless of the difficulties in her way. Like Li Tim-Oi, that gave her courage to pursue God’s call.  Fr. Bernard Pecaro thanked the Order of St. Vincent, who designed the service and thanked the members of the E.C.W. of St. Martin’s who hosed a reception after the service in which the video Return to Hepu, a video interview with Li Tim-Oi before her death 4 years later, was shown.

The preceding article was submitted by Lee Davis