Woman curate now Britain’s youngest vicar

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JUDE Davis had barely started school when the church ordained its first women priests in 1994.

But now, as a curate at Doncaster Minster at the age of 24, she is thought to be the country’s youngest vicar. The Rev Davis, who studied theology at Cambridge University, comes from Millhouses in Sheffield, and required special permission from the Archbishop of Canterbury to enter the priesthood early.

However, she said her choice of career had been a “gradual thing”, and although her parents had encouraged her, they had also counselled her to take a different path if at any point it felt wrong.

She added: “It was a long process, and when I started out I wondered if I would get to the end. I thought the church would tell me no, or something else would stop me, but it just never happened.”

As a curate, the Rev Davis supports Canon Dr Paul Shackerley, the vicar of Doncaster, who is in overall charge of the Minster, and lives in a vicarage in the town’s Wheatley Hills area. She was in charge yesterday as Canon Shackerley was on holiday and she was rushing from a baptism appointment to a meeting with a family about a funeral.

She said: “The best thing about the job is the variety. You meet people at the most important and difficult times of their lives and become part of things that are happening to them.”

The Rev Davis will be looking for a new job in the next year, but wants to remain in South Yorkshire if the Bishop of Doncaster, who is her ultimate boss, felt that appropriate. She said: “I’m not sure how the church is going to look in 20 or 30 years time, but what I do know is that it will not be dead despite what people say. It will still be doing its good work. I find that incredibly exciting.”