​Renewal of vows

​During a festive sung Eucharist on Sunday, 9 December 2012, St Paul's Cathedral celebrated 20 years of women priests.

Following the decision by General Synod, the national “parliament” of the Anglican Church in Australia on 21 November 1992, the following month 92 women were ordained priests in dioceses throughout Australia, of whom 33 women were ordained priest in St Paul’s Cathedral in three separate services.

The celebration marked the 20th anniversary of the first service during which women priests were ordained in Melbourne diocese by the then Archbishop of Melbourne and Primate of Australia, the Rt Revd Dr Keith Rayner AO, who was present at the commemorative service. The first woman to be made priest in Melbourne, the Revd Elizabeth Alfred, now aged 98, was also in attendance at the service.

Canon Dr Colleen O'Reilly, Canon of St Paul's and Vicar of St George’s Church, Malvern, preached. Canon O'Reilly was a significant pioneer of the women’s movement in the Anglican Church of Australia. In 1975, she co-founded Anglican Women Concerned and, in 1983, the Movement for the Ordination of Women in this country. The service was led by Bishop Barbara Darling (pictured blessing the women clergy together with Bishop Rayner), the first woman bishop in Melbourne diocese and the Senior Canon of St Paul's Cathedral.

During the service, the Archbishop of Melbourne, the Most Revd Dr Philip Freier, unveiled a commemorative plaque in the Cathedral to mark this important milestone in the ministry of women in the Anglican Church of Australia.