THE NEW bishop of Reading is a familiar face to many: she has been serving as the Archdeacon of Berkshire for the past six years.
The Venerable Olivia Graham is today unveiled as the successor to the Rt Revd Andrew Proud after the Queen approved her appointment.
The Bishop of Oxford announced the news during a visit to Ranelagh School in Bracknell, where students had an opportunity to ask the Venerable Graham questions.
Their visit was followed by a reception at Reading Minster.
In a statement, the Venerable Graham spoke of her joy at the appointment.
“It is a tremendous opportunity to bring together my passions for the Church and the wider world – for example to be able to encourage greater engagement between our church communities and secondary schools,” she explained.
“The young people I encounter in our schools are serious and engaged with the world. We need to see how we can offer the resources of faith at a crucial time in their lives.”
Married and with three adult children, the Venerable Graham’s career saw her spend seven years as a volunteer teacher and schools worker in Kenya. She has also served as an overseas relief and development worker for the aid agency Oxfam between 1984 and 1993.
Ordained as a deacon in 1997, she went on to become curate of a church in Princes Risborough and a team vicar in Burnham.
In 2012 she was installed as an honorary canon of Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford. A year later, at a service in Reading Minster church, she was installed as archdeacon of Berkshire.
The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, said: “One of the things that was apparent when we were listening and consulting about the new bishop was that people wanted somebody who really knew what it is like to be in ministry in this part of the world.
“Someone who knew what the pressures and challenges are.
“In this and many other areas, Olivia brings just what we need at this time. I am very excited about what Olivia’s appointment means for the Diocese.”
The Venerable Graham will succeed the Bishop Andrew, who retired in May, at a special service to be held at St Paul’s Cathedral on Tuesday, November 19.The 24th female bishop to be installed in the Anglican Church, she is the Diocese of Oxford’s first.
The Reading Episcopal Area extends from west Berkshire along the M4 corridor to Windsor and comprises 170 churches.