History was made at St Ignatius Catholic Church in Brown’s Town, St Ann Parish Saturday, October 22, as two notable events took place. Two women were instituted to the Ministry of Acolyte by Bishop Burchell McPherson of Montego Bay, in what is believed to be the first such institution in the Catholic Church “in hundreds of years”.
In the same ceremony, Kenya-born Edward Mutunga, a seminarian of the Diocese of Montego Bay, was ordained to the Order of Deacon.
Jamaica’s Online Catholic Opinion said that the two women: Dr Claudine Green-Hemmings and Janet Tate are wives of deacon aspirants already instituted as Readers and Acolytes. “The wives received the same training as their husbands, and were similarly assessed,” the report said.
Previously, only men were allowed to receive the Ministries of Reader and Acolyte, steps along the way to Ordination to the Diaconate.
On January 10, 2021, Pope Francis changed Canon Law to open up the Ministries of Reader and Acolyte to women.
The diocesan publication reported that in most countries, women and men have long served as lectors and leaders of Sunday worship in the absence of a priest or deacon, and even have been commissioned for those roles. The formal Institution of women as Readers and Acolytes is official recognition of their specific vocation to leadership in their communities.
On January 23, 2022, Pope Francis instituted six women as Readers at St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. Earlier this year in Kingston and in Montego Bay, a total of six women were instituted as Readers, the first women to be instituted as Readers outside of the Vatican.