Dreams Can Come True!

Dreams Can Come True!

by Una Kroll

from : Congress on ‘What can we learn from the Anglican/Episcopalian experience with women priests’.

Held on CIRCLES from 1st Oct. to 30th Oct. 2003.


Over fifty years ago I had a dream: a fully vested woman priest was at an altar in a large church. She was presiding at a Eucharist. I woke from the dream feeling excited, then profoundly disappointed as the light of day dawned on my consciousness. ‘Wishful thinking’, I said to myself, turned over and went to sleep again.

Many years later, in 1975, I saw that dream come true in the Cathedral Church of St John the Divine in New York, USA The words of the service that morning were familiar; the actions were identical to those I was used to; everything seemed quite ordinary, but I left the cathedral an hour later a changed person. I felt taller, I walked taller. That was not what I had expected.

Seeing a woman at the altar made me feel confident that God loved and treasured the very being of all women and all men irrespective of their various roles in creation and in society. At the same moment I saw that, irrespective of my pleasure in being a woman, I had never before valued my womanhood as God valued it. In some strange way I had always felt like a fish out of water, a person out of her natural element, because – besides being a wife and a mother – I was a professional woman, working alongside professional men, carrying the same responsibilities as them and being paid the same amount for my work as them.

I was feeling taller and walking taller because I no longer had to pretend, no longer had to feel slightly ashamed, but also secretly proud, that, as some of my colleagues had told me, ‘I had the mind of a man’ in the body of a woman. No, I was the person God had created to love and serve in God’s kingdom in the way God wanted, irrespective of gender and role.

So, for me the principal effect of seeing a woman priest in an unexpected place, an unexpected role, on that day so many years ago, was the recognition that I was wholly acceptable to God and that there was nothing I needed to say ‘no’ to if God wanted me to say ‘yes’. Nothing. Before I had said it hesitantly. Now I was confident.

That day was the foundation of all my work for God during the next twenty two years, for, being convinced in my own mind that God was calling women to full participation in the Church of God in my own country, I felt called to say so publicly and to work for my dream to come true for others, if not for myself.

It did come true for some Anglican women in a variety of countries. Many died before their dreams came true; indeed, it seemed likely that I might die long before it became possible for women in my own country. So it was a surprise to me to find myself a priest in the Church in Wales in January 1997.

In the years between 1975 and 1997 I had learnt why God wanted me and others to be priests in God’s kingdom at this time, and the knowledge came to me largely because my work as a Christian medical doctor gave me access to all kinds of disadvantaged people who were suffering from some discrimination. Women abused as children were coming to me to talk when they could not bring themselves to talk to men. Women abused by society, purely because they were women, were asking for my help to secure healthy life-styles, a better education and livelihood for themselves and their children. Homosexual men and women were coming in droves to share their experiences of discrimination and emotional blackmail. They were coming to someone who was herself sufficiently disadvantaged to understand what individuals and society were doing to them and their dependents.

So I and others grew into priesthood during the long years of waiting, and when we got there it was with a firm conviction that women’s presence at the heart of the Church would change social attitudes towards both men and women.

As a woman priest I do not work in the same way as men. I do not necessarily think in the same ways as men. I think they have things to learn from me and other women, just as I have to learn things from them. I am not personally in a position where I can put my ideas into practice, but I believe with all my heart and mind that men and women can work better for the coming of God’s kingdom if they work together than either sex can work alone. I believe that role differentiation and social exclusion of any of the people of God can and does hinder the whole work of God’s incarnate Body, the Church. So I try to support my Anglican brothers and sisters who are still labouring under serious disadvantages. I try to encourage those who are still dreaming to believe that their dreams will come true if they go on ‘dreaming dreams’ and work with God to make those dreams come true. I hope I shall go on doing that until my time on earth comes to an end and I begin a new kind of work in God’s eternal kingdom.

Una Kroll

There are two discussion streams following this article

1. Restructuring Ministries

2. Being a Woman Priest

Congress Overview Lead 1
Journey to Priesthood
Lead 2
Dreams Can Come True
Lead 3
Moving on – brilliant, but rough ride

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