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The Reverend Professor Dr. Patricia Kirkpatrick '72

The Winner of the 2017 Judy Elder Alumna Award is The Rev. Prof. Dr. Patricia Kirkpatrick '72 

After graduating from The Study in 1972, Patricia Kirkpatrick went on to Neuchatel Junior College, returning to Montreal where she obtained a B.A. Honors degree in Religious Studies from McGill. While Patricia humbly attributes her accomplishments solely to her vocation as an Anglican priest, she is also a professor, a writer, a researcher, a lecturer, a volunteer, a mentor and advocate, leading with heart, sense of passion and commitment.

A trailblazer in so many ways, Patricia trained at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, London University and was the first woman to graduate from Oxford University with a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Hebrew Bible. At McGill University, she was the first woman to be hired as an Anglican priest and Hebrew bible scholar. Now a faculty member for more than 33 years, she is currently Professor of Hebrew Bible and Old Testament Studies, and former Director and Chair of Graduate Programs and Policies at the Faculty of Religious Studies. In 2016, Patricia was appointed Associate Dean of Graduate and Post-Doctoral Studies at McGill, responsible for all graduate programs and students in the Faculties of Arts, Education, Music, and the Schools of Social Work and Religious Studies, while mentoring her own undergraduate and graduate students.

At a time when the ordination of women was not even thought of, Study Headmistress Katherine Lamont encouraged Patricia to pursue her perceived vocation omitting to say that women were not permitted to be ordained as priests in the Anglican Church. The road to overturning this position was filled with prejudice but even so in 1975 she became one of four women accepted into the ordination stream in the Diocese of Montreal, and while life would not be easy for her, she faced the challenge with determination, love and conviction. She was named Honorary Assistant at The Church of St. James the Apostle where she remained for more than 30 years.

Patricia’s interdisciplinary interests and commitment to promoting, advancing awareness of, and making changes for women have taken both academic and practical forms. At McGill University, she was involved in the development of the Women’s Studies Programs. As Chair of these programs and of the then Board of the McGill Centre for Research and Teaching on Women, (known now as the Institute for Gender Sexuality and Feminist Studies) she was instrumental in creating and maintaining these several programs.

In 1989 and for the next 25 years, Patricia joined the Board of the Auberge Madeleine, a little-known shelter for homeless women, one of the first in the city. Patricia led by example devoting endless hours to the cause of homelessness amongst women a situation people then did not believe existed. Her sense of justice drove the Board’s energy to bettering women’s circumstances, helping them to return to a productive life. She worked tirelessly to raise awareness of homeless women and fought to ensure fair wages for those who worked with these homeless women. To place the Auberge on a sound financial footing, Patricia worked to establish La Foundation Auberge Madeleine and recruited people in positions of influence to join the Board.

Patricia’s two sisters, Xenia Kirkpatrick ’65 and Kathleen Kirkpatrick ’68, are also alumnae of The Study. For many, Patricia is known particularly for her role at The Study as Chaplain for the Annual Service of Thanksgiving that takes place in June each year at St. Matthias Church, where she is now associate priest.