Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Vocation of Florence Li Tim-Oi

Today we honor the ordination of Florence Li Tim- Oi, who was born in Hong Kong, in 1907.  In 1944  Florence was ordained as an Anglican deaconess.  Months later Hong Kong fell to the Japanese & WWII began. Florence  was sent to Macau, where she served many refugees as the only ordained person.  Bishop Ronald Hall ordained her to the priesthood in 1944, in order to help her fulfill her responsibilities. 

When the war ended, Florence's being ordained created so much controversy that she made the decision to relinquish her license,  but continued to serve the church. After the Communist revolution, Florence was repeatedly singled out for abuse because of her ties to the English colonialists & her role as a female priest. For 16 years all churches were closed and Florence was forced to work on a farm and a factory. In 1979 the churches reopened and Florence resumed her ministry.  Two year later she was permitted to join family living in Toronto. There, in 1984, she was reinstated as a priest. She spent the last eight years of her life serving her parish and encouraging the acceptance of women into the priesthood. Florence lived to see the consecration of the first woman bishop.   

I read the following excerpt on Elizabeth Kaeton's blog today.  It is so powerful in light of all  who know they are called to ordained ministry but are not able or allowed to pursue their call.  May Florence Li Tim-Oi's story be a deep and lasting  source of encouragement in light of that pain.

" Vocation is something which is heard by an individual, witnessed in her life and validated by the community of faith. It begins with the individual but ends with an ever-deepening, self-sacrificial journey into the mystery and intimacy of community. To turn a blind eye to the witness of the Spirit moving and acting in the life of another speaks more to the spiritual and corporal arrogance of those in power than it does of the validity of the person's vocation. I have to believe there are consequences for the continued practices of injustice in the church and in the world. " - Elizabeth Kaeton

Visit Telling Secrets for more on Florence Li Tim-Oi's story
Icon written by the Rev'd Dr. Ellen Poisson, OSH

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