Madam Bishop a first for these islands as Derry rector becomes ‘The Most Rev’
First woman bishop in Ireland or UK to be consecrated in Dublin on Saturday
The Rev Pat Storey has been elected Bishop of Meath and Kildare, the first woman bishop on these islands.
How to address her? “Your Grace”, seemed appropriate but that is reserved for archbishops, even if “grace” is hardly the first word that comes to mind when considering some who have held such office. “My Lord”, of course, is out.
She will be “The Most Rev” as opposed to “The Right Rev”. Bishops of Meath and Kildare are automatically “The Most Rev”. All other bishops in the Church of Ireland are “Right Rev”. She also has been referred to as “Bishop-elect Storey”. So what’s it to be?
“Call me Pat,” said the Co Down native who will be consecrated on Saturday as the first woman bishop in these islands.
Hers was a late vocation. She wanted to be an air hostess. She was a doctor’s receptionist and worked for years with Weight Watchers. She is a wife and the mother of two adult children. This is no ordinary bishop.
She grew up on the Cregagh Road in east Belfast in a family that was “nominally Presbyterian but we didn’t go [to church]”. She “fell into” religion at Trinity College Dublin. She had gone there in 1978 to study English and French because she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her “very glamorous aunt”, who was an air hostess.
A friend was also a student at TCD. “She kinda worked on me I suppose and eventually I started reading the gospels, made a decision of faith for myself.” She started attending church in Kill O’The Grange parish – “a lot of the students” went to church – and became a youth worker there on finishing at Trinity in 1982. Working with youth would be a major part of her life.
At the time she survived on £10 a week, stayed with “a lovely couple in Killiney”, while her family funded her car. Her family were “really pleased” when she started going to church. They were “thrilled, and then when I mentioned the ministry later on in life they were over the moon”. Her mother has since died, while her father is “ecstatic” that she will be a bishop.
It was at Trinity she met her husband, Earl, then training for the ministry. He was a curate in Dungannon when they married in 1983. She became a receptionist for a GP there. They moved to Crinken parish in south Co Dublin in 1986, where Earl was rector for 10 years. Their two children, Carolyn (26) and Luke (22), were born there. She worked for Weight Watchers for several years and “did jobs that fitted in with family life”.