Celebrating History in the Making


Thirty years ago as Queen Elizabeth graced the front page of The London Times, 14 Anglican women made their own headlines seven pages later in the same edition. The reason? They were the first women ordained as deacons in the Sydney Diocese. 

This May, over 200 ministers and friends gathered in St Andrew’s Cathedral to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of that historic ordination, which also included 14 men. Rev. Jackie Stoneman, Director of Mary Andrews College, Rev. Jacinth Myles, ADM Chaplain to the Deaconesses and Retired Deacons, and Rev. Jan Donohoo, ADM board member, as well as Rev. Keith Condie, Co-Director of the Mental Health and Pastoral Care Institute, who were all ordained in 1989, took part in the anniversary service.

 “This is a wonderful opportunity to thank God for the significance of this event in the Sydney Diocese in terms of recognizing the ministry of women,” said Rev. Stoneman. “Here was an acknowledgement of the diaconal ministry that women were already doing.” Since 1989, 95 women have been ordained as Deacons in the Anglican diocese. 

 Rev. Condie considered it a great honour to be ordained alongside the history-making women. “The ordination service acknowledged that these women already had significant ministries which we men hadn’t had because we were just starting out,” he said. “Many have continued to make extraordinary contributions in a range of contexts since that time, which has been inspiring to see.”

God has indeed been faithful and continues to equip women, both ordained and lay, to serve Him to His glory.

Dean of the Cathedral, Kanishka Raffel, led the 30th anniversary service, and Rev. Di Nicolios, the first Archdeacon for Women’s Ministry, preached on 2 Timothy 4:1-8. The current Archdeacon for Women’s Ministry, the Ven. Kara Hartley, then interviewed Rev. Donohoo, ordained in 1989, and Rev. Ruth Schoeter, ordained in 2016. Archbishop Glenn Davies offered closing remarks and spoke of the significance of the ordination of women to the Diaconate and the importance of their ministry in the diocese. Following the service, ADM hosted a dinner for the original female deacons and those who’d come to celebrate. 

“This is one way we could honour the many women who have become deacons in the Anglican church in Sydney,” said Rev. Stoneman. “God has indeed been faithful and continues to equip women, both ordained and lay, to serve Him to His glory.”