The 40th anniversary of the ordination of women to the priesthood has given cause to Ralph Pyatt, a member of our Waikanae parish whānau, to reflect on his brother Allan’s role in ordaining women as the then-Bishop of Christchurch, in February 1978. He believes this may have possibly been earlier than Allan’s former high school rugby foe and Second World War comrade, the then-Bishop of Wellington, Edward Norman.
Allan first met Eddie when playing rugby for Gisborne High against Eddie for Napier High in 1935 and they both went on to St John’s College in 1936. On the first day of World War II, they joined the army as soldiers, wanting to stop Hitler getting to New Zealand. In time, Allan’s tanks supported Eddie’s infantry on the advance up through Italy. When the war in Europe ended, General Freyberg sent for them at Trieste and said ‘Now I want to arrange for you two to go to study at Oxford.’ They replied ‘But Sir, we want to go to Cambridge.’ The General said ‘But if you go to Oxford, you will become bishops!’ ‘Sir,’ they replied, ‘we don’t want to be bishops.’ So they went to Cambridge and in due course Allan became Bishop of Christchurch and Eddie, Bishop of Wellington.
Both Allan and Eddie served in various roles in our diocese before being consecrated as bishops. Allan was Vicar of Brooklyn from 1948-52, then after a stint in Hawera, returned to St Peter’s in Wellington from 1958 to 1962, before moving to Christchurch.
Eddie, or Rt Rev Sir Edward Kinsella Norman, returned to New Zealand and served as Vicar of Waiwhetu, as well as time spent serving in Levin and Karori, and as the Archdeacon of Wellington. He became diocesan bishop in 1973 and died in 1987.
Memorials and metal birds
Ralph loved the Diocesan Ordination at Wellington Cathedral of St Paul recently. He remembers a time when his father was People’s Warden there, and the ordinands processed from what is now Old St Paul’s.
My parent’s memorial is the glass display box on legs in the right hand corridor behind where the choir sit, near the photos of Deans and others. When Dad was Treasurer for that old cathedral I wrote up the books and sent annual bills to the Blundell’s, de Bath Brandon’s and others who wanted their name to be slotted in a metal frame on their pew. Again, when I visit Old St Pauls I think of how Marsden College lost the job of cleaning the brass. About 60 years ago, the little Welsh Dean Dai [David Jones] Davies was walking through that church when one of the Marsden girls pointed at the brass eagle lectern and shouted ‘Whose turn is it to clean the bloody bird?’ and they never had to clean the brass again!
Thank you Ralph for sharing your memories of our diocesan family journey throughout the years. We treasure stories such as these, they remind us of God’s work amongst us for so long – and that He is with us always, now and into the future.