ALL hail her holiness Bishop Helen-Ann.
A female reverend has become the first woman ordained within the Church of England to become a bishop – in the Anglican Diocese of Waikato, New Zealand.
Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, 40, who grew up in East Herrington, is the third woman to be bestowed with bishop’s the title on the Tasmanian Sea island.
The former St Anthony’s Girls Catholic Academy pupil is the seventh Bishop of Waikato, succeeding Archbishop David Moxon, now the Anglican communion’s ambassador to Rome.
Helen-Ann, who also attended Benedict Biscop Primary School, was ordained a Church of England Reverend in the Diocese of Oxford.
“Although I was ordained there, my journey began in Durham Diocese,” she said. “It was there that my vocation was nurtured.
“St Chad’s in East Herrington, Benedict Biscop CofE school, and my years as an acolyte in Durham Cathedral all played a vital role in my formation, and so Durham Diocese remains very much my spiritual home.
“I have so much to give thanks for in its people, places, and rich heritage.”
Helen-Ann is the fourth generation of her family to be ordained – her father, Jim, a former teacher at Sunderland University, was a Reverend Canon in the Diocese of Durham.
She and husband Myles, a musician and church organist, moved to New Zealand in 2011, where she became a Dean at St John’s College, Auckland.
Jim, and Helen-Ann’s mum Pat, a steward at Durham Cathedral, said her upbringing in the church lead to her career in the clergy.
“I think the welcome we received at St Chad’s when we came to Sunderland had a strong influence on Helen-Ann,” said Jim.
“We were made to feel at home as a family and I think that had an effect on her.
“We are deeply grateful for what she has achieved and that the diocese in New Zealand has discerned her giftedness.”
The Diocese of Waikato and Taranki is unique in the Anglican Communion in its style of leadership – having two equal bishops sharing jurisdiction across the diocese.
Helen-Ann will share its leadership with Philip Richardson, who is Bishop of Taranki, and archbishop of the New Zealand Dioceses.
“I hope my election will be an encouragement for supporters of the ordination of women to the episcopate,” she said.
“All people, irrespective of gender, are able to witness to the gospel.
“Both women and men are entrusted with that sacred task.”