Ad Fontes

Politics, Theology and Christian Humanism

Florence Li Tim-Oi

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On 25 January 1944, Florence Li Tim-Oi (李添嬡, 1907–92) was ordained priest by Ronald Hall, the Bishop of Hong Kong, to assist in the ministry of the church during the chaos of the Japanese invasion. Previously, she had been made a deaconess in 1931, and made deacon a decade later to minister among the refugees from war-ravaged Mainland China fleeing to Macau. After the occupation, Li resigned her license, but not her orders, so as to assuage controversy surrounding her irregular ordination. When, in 1971, the Diocese of Hong Kong ordained two other women to the presbyterate, Li Tim-Oi was officially recognised as a priest.

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church of the USA added a commemoration of the eve of her ordination, 24 January, to their calendar in 2003. A year later, the sixtieth anniversary of her ordination, the Church of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, celebrated with the dedication of her icon.

A Collect that may be used for commemorations of Li Tim-Oi:

Gracious God,
we thank you for calling Florence Li Tim-Oi, much-beloved daughter,
to be the first woman to exercise the office of a priest in our Communion;
By the grace of your Spirit inspire us to follow her example,
serving your people with patience and happiness all our days,
and witnessing in every circumstance to our Savior Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the same Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Author: Gareth Hughes

A priest of the Church of England, who is Chaplain of Hertford College, Oxford, and doing Syriac research at Oxford University.

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