The first woman bishop appointed by the Church of Ireland has told how “I always wanted a female bishop to happen, but never thought it would be me”.
The Reverend Pat Storey, a rector in Londonderry, was last week elected by the Church of Ireland as Bishop of Meath and Kildare, in the Republic.
Speaking yesterday on Radio Ulster, the married mother-of-two, who grew up in Belfast, said she was “excited and daunted” by the historic appointment.
When asked about the relevance of a woman achieving such a high position in the church, Rev Storey said: “I know I am the first female to become a bishop in the UK and Ireland, but for me it is about becoming a bishop.”
Rev Storey added her appointment “really come out of the blue, I wasn’t running (to become bishop) and I forgot the meeting was taking place on Thursday”.
“I have been blind-sided and had less than 48 hours to think about it myself.”
She said: “I am rector of a fantastic small church in a city centre. I don’t consider myself to have come up through the ranks. I am quite excited as well. I am also daunted and fearful.
“For me it is all about my personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”
When asked if she planned to be a flag-bearer for women she said: “I am a person before I am a woman and I feel I was called by God into ministry and my gender comes second to that.”
She added that she is “delighted for women” and “I always wanted a female bishop to happen, I just never thought it would be me”.
Rev Storey said she will miss the “intimacy” of ministering in St Augustine’s Church in Londonderry.
“I love St Augustine’s and I love Derry,” she said.
“Derry has been a fantastic period in our lives and the City of Culture has been fantastic.
“I have had an extraordinarily happy experience in St Augustine’s and in this wonderful city, which I will be sad to leave.”
Rev Storey added that in her new role she wants to retain a pastoral role towards the clergy in the diocese.
“It is my duty to maintain that one-to-one level,” she said.
When asked how she wants to be referred to in her new role, she said: “I just want to be Pat. I don’t like a lot of the palaver around formality and I don’t want people to be ‘My Lording’ or ‘My Gracing’ me either.
“Pat is fine, bishop is fine but I am not into the titles.
“There is only one Lord and it isn’t me.”
Belfast-born Rev Pat Storey, 53, studied French and English at Trinity College, Dublin, before training at the Church of Ireland Theological College.
She was ordained a deacon in 1997 and a priest the following year. The bishop-elect has been rector of St Augustine’s in Londonderry since 2004.
She is married to the Rev Earl Storey and has two adult children, Carolyn, 25, and Luke, 22.
Mrs Storey will take over as the new Bishop of Meath and Kildare from Dr Richard Clarke, who was appointed Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland last December.
The appointment was passed by the House of Bishops after the Episcopal Electoral College failed to elect a successor in May.
Dr Clarke said she “is a person of great warmth, intelligence and spiritual depth”.