Florence Li Tim-Oi

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Florence Li Tim-Oi
Born 5 May 1907
Hong Kong
Died 26 February 1992(1992-02-26) (aged 84)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Venerated in Episcopal Church USA, Anglican Church of Canada
Feast 24 January (Episcopal Church USA); 26 February (Anglican Church of Canada)

Florence Li Tim-Oi (Chinese: 李添嬡 Cantonese Lei Tim'oi, Mandarin Li Tian'ai; 5 May 1907 in Hong Kong – 26 February 1992 in Toronto) was the first woman to be ordained to the priesthood in the Anglican Communion.


Florence Li Tim-Oi and Archbishop Robert Runcie, at Lambeth Palace in 1984

In 1931, Florence Li was present at the ordination of Deaconess Lucy Vincent at St. John's Cathedral in Hong Kong when the preacher had asked for women to give their lives to work for Christian ministry. Being inspired by this, Li would eventually go to Canton Union Theological College to receive her theological education before returning to Hong Kong in 1938. After working for two years in All Saints Church, in Kowloon, helping refugees in Hong Kong who fled mainland China in the midst of the Second Sino-Japanese War, Li was sent by Bishop Ronald Hall to help with refugees in Macau at the Macau Protestant Chapel. Six months into her new post, she returned to Hong Kong to be ordained as a deaconess on 22 May 1941 by Bishop Hall at St. John's Cathedral, where she received her first call.[1]

Already appointed as a deaconess to serve in the colony of Macau, Florence Li was ordained priest on 25 January 1944, by Bishop Hall in response to the crisis among Anglican Christians in China caused by the Japanese invasion. Since it was to be 30 years before any Anglican church regularised the ordination of women, her ordination was controversial and she resigned her licence (though not her priest's orders) after the end of the war.[2][3]

When Hong Kong ordained two further women priests (Joyce M. Bennett and Jane Hwang) in 1971, she was officially recognised as a priest in the diocese.[4]

She was appointed an honorary (nonstipendiary) assistant priest in Toronto in 1983, where she spent the remainder of her life.

In 2003, the Episcopal Church fixed 24 January as her feast day in Lesser Feasts and Fasts, based on the eve of the anniversary of her ordination. In 2007, the Anglican Communion celebrated the centennial of her birth.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Harrison, Ted (1985). Much Beloved Daughter. London: Darton, Longman & Todd, Limited. pp. 16–40. ISBN 978-0-232-51632-6. 
  2. ^ "Li Tim-Oi's Story". www.ittakesonewoman.org. Retrieved 14 November 2016. 
  3. ^ Harrison. Much Beloved Daughter. pp. 41–53. 
  4. ^ "The Anglican Communion, The Episcopal Church, and ACNA". Anorderlyaccount.com. Retrieved 19 November 2010. [dead link]
  5. ^ Schjonberg, Mary Frances (4 May 2007). "Communion to celebrate first woman priest Li Tim-Oi on anniversary of birth | Episcopal Church". The Episcopal Church. Retrieved 18 August 2016. 

External links[edit]