I was ordained priest at Ripon Cathedral and the memories of the day are of warmth and intense joy. As the procession approached the main door of the cathedral it was as though creation joined in with our pleasure as white doves flew down towards us. I had been a deacon for six years during which time I served a curacy in South Leeds and then a secondment to the BBC, and campaigned with MOW for the ordination of women. We sought to develop spiritually and embody priesthood, while waiting for our vocations to be recognised. Standing with women young and old on the day of our ordination felt almost intoxicating. At last the church recognised and authorised what God was already doing among us.
I could never have imagined the demands and yet the deep satisfactions of ministry. It has been a privilege to be able to follow a vocation to serve and for this to latterly also include a vocation to leadership. When I was young I really couldn’t imagine how I was going to be able to ‘be myself’ in Christian ministry. There were really no role models. But I had no need to worry. God is good and, as long as I remembered to ask, help and support have always been there. I loved vicarage family life, seeing people develop in faith and confidence, opportunities to work with artists and to surprise people with the Christian imagination. I feel that I’m becoming more fully myself all the time.
The next 25 years will be about the inclusion of all God’s people in ministry, ordained and lay. I’d like to see more young women realising their vocations, more women leading large and evangelical churches, and more women called to senior leadership. We now have women in all three Church Estates Commissioners roles, we need more ordained women to follow their example. I’d like to see more women Deans – it’s a great role for those of us who love to be involved deeply in a place, in its story and its people.
The Very Revd Catherine Ogle was one of the women deacons ordained priest in 1994. Since then her ministry has included being chaplain at Huddersfield University, Dean of Birmingham in 2010 and Dean of Winchester from February 2017.