Pioneering priest Pat revisits ordination spot in Salisbury Cathedral

ONE of the first women to be ordained as a priest at Salisbury Cathedral has returned for a personal visit thanks to her Dorset care home.

Pat Stear, who has lived at Colten Care’s Newstone House in Sturminster Newton for the past four years, travelled with carers to the spot where her ordination service took place.

The trip came amid wider celebrations in the clergy to mark the 30th anniversary of the first women’s ordinations in the Church of England in 1994.

At the time of her service in 1997, Pat was aged 59 and one of only 12 female priests to be ordained at the Cathedral.

She went on to minister in four parishes north of Dorchester: Bradford Peverell, Stratton, Frampton and Sydling St Nicholas.

Her time as a reverend followed periods living in Bournemouth and, for 13 years, in the United States. Her early life was spent in London.

Pat, now 86, journeyed back to the Cathedral by minibus accompanied by friend and fellow Newstone House resident Ann Clarke, whose husband was a priest, and Ruth Telford, a member of the home’s companionship team.

Pat (right) at Salisbury Cathedral, fellow Newstone House resident Ann Clarke (left) with companionship team member Ruth Telford and Colten Care minibus driver Nick Myles Picture: Colten Care

Helped by a volunteer guide, the party had a tour of the Cathedral and saw the area where Pat would have donned her robes for the ordination service.

“She would no doubt have been filled with nervous anticipation at that point,” said Ruth.

“Our lovely guide, Trish, then showed us exactly where Pat was ordained and pointed out the plaque showing which Bishop had taken the ceremony.

“Pat first became interested in the ministry long before women priests were ever considered.

“As a child she was evacuated during the war to stay with a family on the South Coast.

“The father was a vicar and Pat says that he was the influence behind her strong faith.

“She is a well-travelled lady and has lived in a number of places in her life, including New York.

“She expressed a wish to revisit Salisbury Cathedral and see again where she was ordained and we were only too happy to make this happen for her.”

Pat Stear at her ordination service in 1997 Picture Colten Care

After her trip back, Pat said: “I found it really lovely. The more we walked round, the more the memories came back. I really enjoyed the visit.”

Salisbury Cathedral held a special anniversary service on Saturday 15 June to honour the first women’s ordinations 30 years ago.

The Bishop of Sherborne, The Rt Revd Karen Gorham presided, and Bishop June Osborne, former Dean of Salisbury, gave a sermon.

The service was attended by four of the first female priests ordained in Salisbury along with others currently living in the diocese.

Pat (seated left) at Salisbury Cathedral with Ann Clarke (seated right) with Nick Myles and volunteer cathedral guide Trish.

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