First female priests ordained in Uruguay

The first women priests ordained in the diocese of Uruguay (L to R): The Rev. Susana Lopez Lerena, the Rev. Cynthia Myers Dickin and the Rev. Audrey Taylor Gonzalez. Photo: Contributed
The first women priests ordained in the diocese of Uruguay (L to R): The Rev. Susana Lopez Lerena, the Rev. Cynthia Myers Dickin and the Rev. Audrey Taylor Gonzalez. Photo: Contributed
By on December 1, 2015

History was made in Uruguay on November 22 with the first-ever ordination of women to the Anglican priesthood in the country.

The Rev. Audrey Taylor Gonzalez, the Rev. Cynthia Myers Dickin and the Rev. Susana Lopez Lerena were ordained priests on the Feast of the Reign of Christ at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Montevideo. All three had been deacons since the late ’90s, according to an email sent to the Anglican Journal by the bishop of the diocese of Uruguay, Michael Pollesel.

It has been 18 years since my ordination to the diaconate, and as the Almir Sater song I chose for my presentation says, ‘I know little,’ ” commented Lerena, alluding to a song by a Brazilian singer-songwriter. “But faith and blessings have been stronger than disappointments. Different people have contributed to the realization of this new stage.”

The ordinations came a day after the synod of the Anglican Church of Uruguay had passed a motion approving the ordination of women to the priesthood. The motion was unanimously approved by all three houses of the church’s synod. As instructed by the Province of South America (Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay), the voting was done in secret.

The adoption of the motion by the Uruguayan church, in turn, followed updates by the province to its canon law earlier this year, allowing a “local option” on the ordination of women to the priesthood.

“I’m so thankful that we have been able to reach this point in the life of the small church here in Uruguay,” Pollesel said. “I’m confident that it marks the opening of a new chapter in the life of the church here.”

Uruguay is now the second diocese in the Anglican Province of South America (formerly known as the Southern Cone) to ordain women to the priesthood, Pollesel says. The first is Bolivia, which did so earlier this year.

The ceremony was attended by members of each of the women’s families, as well as the Rt. Rev. Ed Konieczny, bishop of Uruguay’s companion diocese, Oklahoma; and guests from the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil.

Pollesel was elected bishop of Uruguay in 2011; he had previously served as general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada.

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  • Tali Folkins

    Tali Folkins joined the Anglican Journal in 2015 as staff writer, and has served as editor since October 2021. He has worked as a staff reporter for Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal. His freelance writing credits include work for newspapers and magazines including The Globe and Mail and the former United Church Observer (now Broadview). He has a journalism degree from the University of King’s College and a master’s degree in Classics from Dalhousie University.

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