Thursday, July 5, 2007

Saints: Florence Li Tim-Oi

She lived to the age of 85 as a pioneer. Florence Li Tim-Oi was the first woman to be ordained priest in the Anglican Communion. Want to guess the year? Was it 1975? 1977? No. Her ordination came long before the modern era of women's ordination. The year was 1944, January 25 to be exact, the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.

Florence was born in Hong Kong in 1907, and at her baptism she took the name of "Florence" to honor Florence Nightingale. After World War II was over, Florence's ordination caused quite a stir. She took it upon herself not to serve as a priest until the wider Anglican Communion could agree on her ordination.

Florence studied theology in China and taught classes at the Cathedral in Guangzhou. When the Cultural Revolution caused the Chinese churches to be closed, Florence was accused of being a counter-revolutionary. She was sentenced to work on a farm and in a factory until 1974, while undergoing "political re-education."

In 1981 she moved to Canada and was allowed to serve as a priest in Montreal and Toronto and environs. She died there in 1992. Florence Li Tim-Oi is an example of humble service and perseverence in the midst of overwhelming circumstances.

In peace,

The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

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