Una Kroll is now 77 years old (in 2003). Post script: Una died on January 6th 2017 aged 91. She was a good friend of the Wijngaards Institute.
Born in England she was raised in Paris, Latvia, London and in suburban colonies of Russian emigrees, so she grew up speaking three languages fluently. Her mother, left a single parent when Una was 2 years old, had, like most girls of her age and class, had little useful education so she was determined that Una should be well educated. Which she duly was, going off to Cambridge to read medicine in the early part of World War II.
At Cambridge Una was converted and heard an early ‘call’ to priesthood. Such vocations were impossible for Anglican women at that time so she decided to become a nun and went off to a missionary order. She lasted five years, and when simply professed she was sent to work as a nun-doctor in Liberia. There her two vocations collided in a big way and she eventually left the Order, returned to medicine, married, had four children and worked as a Christian family doctor for many years.
Once the Lambeth conference of 1968 decided there were no theological reasons to prevent women from offering for priesthood and her vocation to priesthood re-established itself. Nothing went well for women in those days and she was to be frustrated in this strong call for a further 29 years. Strong opposition in the Church made Una aware of the plight of many women in secular life and with many other women she worked hard to change the laws of England to make sure that the Sex Discrimination and Equal Opportunities Act were passed in 1975 as well as continuing their campaign to enable women to test their vocations to priesthood in the same way as men.
The struggle was long and hard. Her small ‘ginger’ group was decidedly ‘avant garde and unpopular with Church representatives. She was unladylike enough to shout from the gallery of Church House during one of the many adverse votes in the Church of England: ‘we asked you for bread and you gave us a stone’ words which were not forgotten until in November 1992 a positive vote gave women in England the right to test their vocations.
By that time, however, Una had been widowed in 1987 and had moved to Wales to test her own vocation to the solitary life which she did by joining a small contemplative Order of nuns in Wales. Wales did not follow England until 1997, so Una continued to be a deacon in the Church in Wales and a nun, but her vocation to the solitary life took her out of her convent after 4 years. Eventually In 1997 she was ordained to the priesthood and now lives as a solitary close by her parish church in Monmouth but also assists in the parish.
To be nearer her children, she moved in 2003 to a small flat in Bury, Greater Manchester.
Una has ten grandchildren, each of whom she adores in a special way, and she has also written ten books, usually about inter-face subjects that call for both medical and theological knowledge. Three of these books, Vocation to Resistance (DLT) Forgive and Live and Anatomy of Survival (both Continuum) might be helpful to women in the Roman Catholic Church (and their supporters) who are still waiting and need to persevere with their work of changing attitudes in their own Church.
Read: ‘Priesthood and Womanhood: Questions and Answers’ by Una Kroll
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