SEYCHELLES: Diocese ordains first woman priest

December 8, 2006

The Rev. Christine Benoit was the first Anglican woman to be ordained priest in the Diocese of Seychelles during a consecration service on November 26 at St. Paul's Cathedral in Victoria.

The service was led by Bishop Santosh Marray of Seychelles, assisted by members of the clergy, and the preacher was the Rev. Jody Medicoff of the Anglican Diocese of Montreal in Canada.

Benoit was the first Anglican female deacon to be ordained in the diocese in 2004.

Noting that the decision to ordain a woman as priest is not one which a church makes easily, a communiqué from the Anglican Diocese of Seychelles says that in the Anglican Communion each of the 38 provinces has had to decide for itself in accordance with its legal and canonical rules, whether and when it would be appropriate to take the step.

According to the communiqué, the Province of the Indian Ocean, which includes the Diocese of Seychelles, authorized the ordination of women to the order of deacons in 2002. The provincial synod in January 2006 moved a step further in authorizing individual dioceses to proceed with ordaining women to the priesthood.

Born on August 13, 1972, Benoit holds a Diploma in Business Studies and Accounting from the Seychelles Polytechnic. She worked in the Internal Audit Division of the Ministry of Finance from April 1993 to January 2000, after which she proceeded to the College of Transfiguration in Grahamstown, South Africa, where she graduated in 2002 with a Diploma in Theology and Diplomas in Ministry with distinction.

Benoit, who has served in various positions in the diocese, is also part-time translator with the Seychelles Bible Society.

She recently returned from the Anglican Diocese of Montreal, where she spent three months assisting and understudying Medicoff, one of the diocese's female priests, at St. Barnabas Church, St. Lambert, Montreal.

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