Page last updated at 11:27 GMT, Sunday, 28 March 2010 12:27 UK

Conwy woman vicar appointed archdeacon of Wrexham

Rev Shirley Griffiths gave her reaction before a Palm Sunday procession in her parish.

A vicar in Conwy is to become the first Welsh-born woman to be made archdeacon, the Church in Wales has announced.

Rev Shirley Griffiths, 62, has been vicar of Abergele since 2002 and said she was "quite amazed" to be asked to be archdeacon of Wrexham.

The Bishop of St Asaph, the Rt Revd Dr Gregory Cameron said Mrs Griffiths was an "experienced and wise" priest.

She joins Leicestershire-born Ven Peggy Jackson, who became archdeacon of Llandaff last year.

Mrs Griffiths, who will also become the Rector of Llandegla with her new appointment, becomes one of the two most senior women clerics in Wales.

Under the bishop she will be responsible for a third of the diocese, from Deeside down to the rural area around Bala.

A farmer's daughter and mother-of-two, Mrs Griffiths was brought up in Llanasa and Trelawnyd, Flintshire.

She taught in Holywell, Flintshire, for nine years before she was ordained a deacon in 1982.

I'm looking forward to the new challenge but will be very sad to leave Abergele and St George
Rev Shirley Griffiths

Mrs Griffiths served as a curate before becoming diocesan education officer, but left to become a priest-in-charge of a parish in Ripon, Yorkshire, at a time when women in Wales were not able to be ordained as priests.

Bishop Gregory said: "Shirley is an experienced and wise parish priest, who has all the skills for which I look in an archdeacon.

"I am in no doubt whatsoever that she will be an excellent successor to the eminent ministry that Malcolm Squires has exercised as archdeacon of Wrexham over the last nine years."

Mrs Griffiths: "I was quite amazed when Bishop Gregory asked me. It was last thing I was expecting when he invited me to see him.

Restoration project

"I'm looking forward to the new challenge but will be very sad to leave Abergele and St George, where my husband and I have developed many friendships and have felt ourselves to be very much part of the community."

The archdeacon of Wrexham has responsibility, under the bishop, for a third of the diocese, from the industrial area of Deeside down to the rural area around Bala.

Archdeacons also have a particular concern for church buildings and Mrs Griffiths inherited a restoration project from her predecessor in Abergele and has overseen plans for the rebuilding of St David's, Pensarn, which will be a new community space, due to open later this year.

Mrs Griffiths and her husband Robin's daughter Anna is due to be be married in Abergele in April, while their son works in Yorkshire.

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