IN a groundbreaking move, Warrnambool deacon Robyn Shackell is expected to be one of the first female Anglican priests in the Ballarat diocese.
The Anglican Diocese of Ballarat approved the ordination of female priests on Saturday in what Reverend Shackell described as a respectful debate.
The first Victorian woman to be ordained by an Anglican priest was more than 20 years ago and Ballarat had been one of five dioceses in the Anglican Church of Australia which did not allow the ordination of women.
Reverend Shackell said she expected Bishop Garry Weatherill to announce a date for her ordination later this week.
“Obviously I’m really happy,” she said. “I’m also concerned for some people that aren’t happy about this.
“Ballarat has been a very traditional diocese. Women have been ordained in other dioceses for the past 25 years or so.
“It’s just taken Ballarat a little longer.
“In Warrnambool there will be a few people who find it difficult.
“I’m concerned for those who do find it difficult.”
The decision was made during the church’s synod and Reverend Shackell said she received a wonderful warm welcome once it was done.
“The debate was very respectful on both sides,” she said,
“It wasn’t bitter or anything like that.
“I was called by God a long time ago and I’ve worked as a deacon for the last five years.
“It will be wonderful to celebrate with people.”
Reverend Shackell and Reverend Anne McKenna, from Stawell, are expected to be ordained before the end of the year.
Bishop Weatherill said while he believed the decision was the right thing to do, it was a bittersweet moment for the church.
“Change is always tough. I feel a great weight for the people who are not happy for this to happen,” he said yesterday.
WITH THE BALLARAT COURIER