THE Church of Ireland's first ever woman bishop has said she is "having trouble digesting" the groundbreaking news.
Speaking to the Irish Independent following the announcement yesterday, Rev Pat Storey (53) said her priority in her new role as Bishop of Meath and Kildare would be to do a lot of listening.
"I happen to be a woman but gender is not an issue for me, although I appreciate it may be an issue for other people," she said.
Rev Storey is married to Rev Earl Storey, who is also a Church of Ireland clergyman, and they have two adult children, Carolyn (25) and Luke (22). She is currently Rector of St Augustine's Parish in Derry.
She succeeds the Church of Ireland Primate, Archbishop Richard Clarke of Armagh, in Meath and Kildare.
Bishop-elect Storey is the first woman appointed to an episcopal role since the Church of Ireland General Synod voted in 1990 to open up the priesthood and episcopate to women, ahead of the Church of England, which still has no women bishops.
"To be appointed bishop is amazing and to be the Church of Ireland's first woman bishop is equally amazing," she said.
She expressed the hope that people would find her "approachable, kind and spiritual".
Asked about the possible impact of her appointment on the Church of England and traditionalists within the Anglican Communion, Rev Storey told the Irish Independent: "I have no idea how this might impact on other churches. I'm having enough trouble digesting it myself!"
She is a former Weightwatchers leader and assistant PR officer and her interests include her golden retriever Rudi, as well as swimming, reading and creative writing.
Rev Storey grew up in East Belfast and studied French and English at Trinity College, Dublin.
She trained at the Church of Ireland Theological College and was ordained a priest in 1998.
She has served in Ballymena and was a vicar in Glenavy as well as a part-time Youth Worker Co-ordinator with the Church of Ireland Youth Department.
The appointment of Rev Storey follows the decision by Archdeacon Leslie Stevenson to decline the role following his selection last January.
His decision followed revelations last February of an affair in the 1990s with a parishioner while rector at Donaghadee, Co Down.