The ordination of women in Southern Africa has been authorised by the Anglican church since 1992. However, it was only in 2015 that the synod of the Anglican Diocese of Libombos, Mozambique made the move to “open the altar to women.”
Bishop of Libombos, Monsignor Carlos Matsinhe explained during the ordination ceremony that, “At the level of Southern Africa, the decision to ordain women was made 28 years ago, but each diocese has the prerogative to admit to ordination of women at their own discretion and we have been thinking and thinking for the last few years.”
Virtue Online reports that the Anglican Diocese of Libombos has been open for 125 years. Thus, making the ordination of the first three women a monumental new chapter in its history.
After years of training, Joana Chilengue, Lina Maria dos Santos and Fatucha Rosemary recently became the first Anglican deaconesses in the country, firmly putting an end to a male only priesthood. The three women from a group of ordained deacons (four male) were given the authority to direct the life of the church.
Speaking on their ordination the Deaconesses all felt the weight of their calling.
Deaconess Fatucha Rosemary said, “It’s an honour for me and a very big challenge at the same time. Being sure that I am one of the first women of the diocese, this requires a very strong commitment, self-giving, to make the ministry prosper, maintain credibility within the diocese and achieve what the diocese’s expectations are.”
Deaconess Joana Chilengue reflected that she, “Never dreamed of reaching this position, but God only knows how I am here. This means that God brought me here in the world to serve him…”
Last week St Cyrian’s hosted the ordination of the first three women in Lebombo – (from L to R in photo) Joanna, , Lina, Edilson and Fatucha. It was a thrilling service @dioceseoflondon @bpedmonton @bishopSarahM https://t.co/GDwgO5ZO4n pic.twitter.com/5EtmcrlTy4
— ALMA London (@ALMALondonD) January 17, 2020
Bishop Matsinhe told the publication that the inclusion, “Is a very big milestone in valuing women, but also in the issue of gender equity that the Bible preaches, and we also preach. And, in fact, there was no question of having men and women on an equal footing who could serve God on the altar.”
“We will continue to encourage women to enter the priesthood. The ones we have ordained today are capable of serving the church, and in fact in our seminary we now have nine women and surely these will be next in this path of ordination, which is an irreversible path and will be a gain for the church in general… We will continue to help those who choose to follow this path, which is good for the church and good for society as well,” he concluded
The Christian Council of Mozambique (CCM) salutes this step despite being miles ahead. Felicidad Chirindza, CCM secretary general said in a statement that, “The CCM began ordaining the first women to pastors in the 1980s, and now the Anglican Church, for the first time, ordains its deaconesses. We are very happy, because in the family is multiplying the number of churches in which women are part of those God calls.”