Wymondham Abbey appoints first female vicar, Revd Catherine Relf-Pennington, in its 910 years

The Rev Catherine Relf-Pennington has become the first female vicar of Wymondham Abbey. Picture: WYM

The Rev Catherine Relf-Pennington has become the first female vicar of Wymondham Abbey. Picture: WYMONDHAM ABBEY - Credit: Archant

A woman has been appointed vicar of Wymondham Abbey for the first time in its 910-year history.

Wymondham Abbey head churchwarden Bernard Douglass with Catherine Relf-Pennington, the next vicar of

Wymondham Abbey head churchwarden Bernard Douglass with Catherine Relf-Pennington, the next vicar of the church. Picture: WYMONDHAM ABBEY - Credit: Archant

Catherine Relf-Pennington has become the 60th vicar at the abbey, having already served as its associate vicar since 2013.

Revd Relf-Pennington said she was thrilled to be taking up the role, which follows the retirement of Revd Canon Christopher Davies in September.

She said: 'The role of vicar of any church is an important and demanding post.

'In a parish the size of Wymondham that is particularly true.


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'The heart of the job is loving and serving the people of Wymondham and Spooner Row, whether they come to church or not.'

Revd Relf-Pennington said the staff and volunteers at the abbey were a great team and a 'wonderful church family'.

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She said: 'It is a great blessing and huge honour to have been appointed to this historic church and serve this community.'

Revd Relf-Pennington was born in Australia and raised in Hong Kong, where she went to school.

She then moved to the UK where she attended university.

Before becoming a priest, Revd Relf-Pennington was a research scientist in the field of artificial intelligence.

Bernard Douglass, church warden, said he was delighted with the appointment.

He said: 'Although Catherine has been working at the church for over three years, she had to go through a full selection process, and she was clearly an outstanding candidate.'

He added: 'We look forward to working closely with her as we embrace the challenging times ahead.'

The Bishop of Thetford, the Right Reverend Alan Winton, was part of the selection panel which appointed Revd Relf-Pennington.

He said: 'Catherine is a first-rate priest, and we were impressed with her obvious capabilities and vision for the parish.'

Revd Relf-Pennington will be formally collated into the post in a special ceremony at the church.

She said she encouraged anyone to join a service or community event at the church, or to simply drop by to light a candle, say a prayer and enjoy the tranquillity of the place.

Wymondham Abbey, which was founded in 1107, is Wymondham's parish church.

Performance planned

Wymondham Symphony Orchestra will peform Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade at Wymondham Abbey on Saturday, March 25. Starting at 7.30pm the programme also includes Holst's St Paul's Suite for Strings, and Suite in E Flat for Wind/Brass, as well as Beethoven's Overture Leonora III. Tickets are available on the door, or in advance from Puff's Toy Shop, Wymondham, or from Malcolm Crane on 01953 798784.

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