MORE than half of all people applying to become a priest in Lancashire are women, it has been revealed.

Church of England chiefs said the numbers of women priests was rocketing as a ‘sense of balance’ begins to show in the make up of church leaders.

Rev Dr John Darch, the Blackburn Diocese director of ordinance, said: “We have a lot of women coming through, in fact the majority of applicants now are women, it stands at around 60 per cent.

"Those who come to see me discuss their vocation, gender is irrelevant, but we would like to see more women as we want a balance.”

The figures come as nine new deacons – four of whom are women – were ordained at Blackburn Cathedral at the weekend.

The annual service was hailed a huge success by the Bishop of Blackburn, who said that the church was eagerly hunting for new leaders.

The Rt Rev Nicholas Reade completed the service on Saturday, while David Russell and Stephen Watkinson were ordained as priests in Padiham on Sunday.

They were among six new priests ordained across Lancashire.

Bishop Nicholas said: “Ordinations always mark a very happy weekend for the Diocese.

"At a time when we are eagerly looking for more stipendiary, and self-supporting priest and deacons, it’s very thrilling to see 15 people being ordained.

“Once again, we have a wide range of ages of people, bringing a rich variety of experiences to our parishes.

"I very much hope that as we look after and pray for those who are being ordained this year, others in the Diocese may discover a vocation to serve in the ordained ministry.”


* David Allsop and Judith Balkwell (St Thomas, Musbury, St James, Haslingden with St Stephen, Grane and St John, Stonefold, and St Peter, Laneside)
* Graham Ashworth (St Ambrose, Leyland)
* Sue Bell (St Lawrence and St Paul, Longridge)
* Jane Everitt (Poulton, Carleton and Singleton)
* Christine Gould (St Peter, Darwen)
* Peter Hamborg (Christ Church, Fulwood)
* Andy Shaw (St Peter and St David, Fleetwood)
* Peter Smith (Euxton).