Britain and Ireland got their first Anglican woman bishop this week following the appointnment of the Rev. Pat Storey to the diocese of Meath and Kildare, Ireland.
The 53-year-old Storey grew up in the Northern Ireland city of Belfast and is married to the Rev. Earl Storey who is also an Anglican priest. She has two adult children.
The appointment took her by surprise and Storey told RTE, Ireland's national broadcaster, "I was blindsided, I didn't see it coming. I thought maybe he [Archbishop of Armagh] was joking."
She was rector of St Augustine's, Londonderry for four years and was appointed to her new post by the Church of Ireland's House of Bishops at a meeting in Dublin on Thursday. The Irish priest will succeed Dr. Richard Clarke, who is now Archbishop of Armagh.
"I am both excited and daunted by this new adventure in our lives.... I count it an enormous privilege to begin a new phase of my ministry with the people of Meath and Kildare, and I look forward to working with the team of clergy who are already there," Storey said in a statement released by the Church of Ireland.
Anglican churches in Ireland, Wales and Scotland have voted to appoint female bishops, but Ireland has set the pace.
Members of the Church in Wales' 144-strong governing body voted through the proposals at a meeting in Lampeter on September 12.
The Church of England is, however, engaged in trying to resolve the issue of female bishops, which has been delayed by lay members, while the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has said he wants to consecrate the first female bishop as soon as possible.
HOUSE OF BISHOPS
The appointment of the new bishop passed to the House of Bishops after the church's Episcopal Electoral College had failed to make an appointment when it met on May 28.
The Archbishop of Dublin, the Rev. Michael Jackson said, "The election of the Rev. Pat Storey to be bishop of Meath and Kildare brings delight to many within the dioceses, across the Church of Ireland and throughout the Anglican Communion."
The College had reconvened after Rev. Leslie Stevenson, Archdeacon of Meath and Kildare, stood down as Bishop-elect to Meath and Kildare, after press reports highlighted that he would be the first divorced bishop in the history of the Church of Ireland, and that he had had a relationship after his first marriage failed, the Church Times reported on Friday.
On Friday, Clarke said: "Having known Pat Storey since she was an undergraduate and I was Chaplain at Trinity College, Dublin, I very much welcome her as a new bishop. She is a person of great warmth, intelligence, and spiritual depth."
Storey grew up in Belfast and studied French and English at Trinity College, Dublin, before training at the Church of Ireland Theological College (now Institute). She was ordained a deacon in 1997 and priest in 1998, later serving a curacy in Ballymena.
She is a member of the standing committee of the General Synod of the Church of Ireland.