Clergy and lay people from across our Diocesan community gathered at St Francis College’s Chapel of the Holy Spirit on Sunday for a valedictory service to celebrate the 2021 graduation of formation students.
The four students, Melissa Conway, Loretta Tyler-Moss, Gary Tognola and Lorraine Lynch, will be ordained as deacons on Saturday 4 December in St John’s Cathedral.
Principal of St Francis College The Right Rev’d Dr Jonathan Holland said that the most moving part of the service was the presentation of stoles by senior Mothers Union representatives, Diana Stonier and Lyn Reading.
“The giving of the stoles to graduating formation students by Mothers Union at the end of the service was the highlight of the event for me,” Bishop Holland said.
“This part of the service marks the transition towards ordination to the diaconate at the end of the year and helps them to realise that they are about to become a cohort of clergy who are serving together to commend Christ and his course.”
The four graduating formation students have walked with each other towards ordination since meeting at Seekers Day, an annual day of vocational enquiry, in 2017.
Senior graduating formation student Melissa Conway said that the support of her fellow graduates has been enriching, and offered words of encouragement for those discerning a call to ordained ministry.
“Having a group that goes together all the way through is really special and something that we will have for life, and the cohort support is really lovely,” Ms Conway said.
“For those who think they might be called to ordained ministry, listen to your community, as God often speaks through your community.”
The Right Rev’d Jeremy Greaves presided over the service, which was attended by Bishops, Archdeacons, parish priests, chaplains, college staff and students, Mothers Union and GFS – An Anglican Ministry representatives and loved ones of the graduating formation students.
Bishop Greaves gave an inspirational sermon, sharing the story of Athenagoras, the Patriarch of Constantinople who was elected in 1948.
“Athenagoras had that wonderful (and rare) combination of deep faithfulness to the Gospel and great managerial skill, that enabled him to lead his church out of its inward-looking and closed mentality towards an openness to the world,” Bishop Greaves said.
“He was a tireless champion for unity – in the world, as well as in the Christian Church – and in a huge moment in 1964, he joined with Pope Paul VI, in mutually lifting (nullifying) the anathemas the Churches of East and West had pronounced on each other…nearly a thousand years earlier in 1054…
“At the time, there were many in the Orthodox Church that attacked and condemned Athenagoras for his decision to lift the ancient anathema. Amongst other things, he was accused of “sacrificing Orthodoxy to a blind obsession with love.”
“ ‘…a blind obsession with love’…if only more of the Church could be accused of that!!”
During the service, graduating and continuing formation students were also presented with annual awards by Bishop Holland.
First-year formation student Mamuor Kunpeter, who was presented with The David Hughes Memorial Bursary, said that he is grateful for the award and encourages other people to study at St Francis College.
“I feel a strong sense of being part of a loving community at the College,” Mr Kunpeter said.
“With so many people of different backgrounds gathering at the event and approaching me to offer congratulations, I feel included and a strong sense of caring.
“I encourage people who have a sense of call to come to St Francis College to explore their call and study with great mentors.”
During the service, The Rev’d Canon Sarah Plowman was fittingly commissioned as the Director of Discernment and Formation.
To find out more about vocational discernment, please email The Rev’d Canon Sarah Plowman via email@example.com or visit the Anglican Church Southern Queensland website.
If you would like to know more about studying theology, come to the St Francis College Open Day and find out about the wide range of study options. Visit the St Francis College website to register or for more information. The virtual Open Day will be held on Tuesday 2 November at 7 – 8.30 pm and the on-campus Open Day will be held on Thursday 4 November at 12 noon – 2 pm and 5 – 7 pm.