Archbishop Phillip Aspinall has announced The Venerable Dr Ruth Mathieson as the new Principal of St Francis College and Executive Director of the Ministry Education Commission (MEC), while paying tribute to the incumbent, Bishop Jonathan Holland.
Archbishop Phillip said that Dr Mathieson’s education, experience, gifts and inclusive approach will serve the College and the wider Diocesan community soundly.
“Please join me in welcoming Ruth as the new Executive Director of the MEC and the first woman Principal of St Francis College, and praying for her as she takes up this important ministry,” Archbishop Phillip said.
“In addition to her academic, teaching, administrative and pastoral gifts, Ruth is committed to community engagement and to ministry that is inclusive and welcoming,”
“I am sure these qualities will serve the Diocese well as Ruth takes forward the ministry of theological education and guides the staff and students of the College.”
Dr Mathieson will be moving to St Francis College mid-year from the Diocese of Adelaide, where she is currently priest-in-charge of St Bede’s Anglican Church, Semaphore and Archdeacon of the Sturt.
She is also adjunct lecturer in Biblical Studies at St Barnabas College, where she has taught several New Testament subjects since 2013.
Dr Mathieson obtained her PhD in 2019 from Charles Sturt University, where she was awarded a highly prestigious University Medal.
She was ordained a deacon in 1997 and a priest in 1998 in the Diocese of Adelaide and has served in a variety of roles, including school chaplaincy.
Dr Mathieson said that she is excited about joining the St Francis College community and fostering the Church’s mission through theological education.
“I am looking forward to living, praying, learning and teaching at St Francis College, and working together with all the ministries under the Ministry Education Commission umbrella,” Dr Mathieson said.
“I appreciate the opportunity to become part of a Diocese that is seriously engaging with the concept of comprehensive Anglicanism.
“Theological Education, which engages our minds, hearts and hands, is essential to the mission and ministry of the Church.
“When the two disciples realised that the stranger that they had met on the Emmaus Road was the Risen Lord, they said ‘Did not our hearts burn within us, while he was opening the Scriptures to us?’ (Luke 24.32).
“Quality theological education involves critical thinking to increase our depth of knowledge of the One who loves us and calls us, helps us identify our passion for sharing the Gospel and encourages an action-reflection model of engagement as we serve in the mission and ministry of the Church.”
Dr Mathieson will commence in her new dual role on 1 July this year, following Bishop Jonathan’s retirement after 40 years of ordained ministry.
The Archbishop said that Bishop Jonathan Holland, who was ordained a deacon in 1982 and a priest in 1983 in the Diocese of Perth, has served the College well.
“Bishop Jonathan Holland has made a very significant contribution to the Diocese as Executive Director of the Ministry Education Commission and Principal of St Francis’ College,” the Archbishop said.
“His ministry has borne much fruit, as recent trends in enrolments testify.
“His mentoring of students, wisdom in guiding and managing staff, and stewardship of the College, are all matters that he can justifiably be proud as he reflects on his time as Principal of the College.”
Bishop Jonathan said that seeing St Francis College (SFC) students ordained has been the highlight of his role.
“There are quite a few highlights, but it is always a joy to see those whom I and other staff have accompanied through the College, both academically and in formation, be ordained at the end of that process – at the point of ordination, there is a quiet feeling of pride and a gentle hope for the future,” Bishop Jonathan said.
Bishop Jonathan acknowledges the collegial contributions of MEC staff and the ongoing support of MEC commissioners, and commends Dr Mathieson on her appointment.
“I have enjoyed working with colleagues at SFC, and much appreciated their individual contributions to the corporate good of the College,” he said.
“I have been the happy recipient of wisdom and insight from those on the MEC, and have especially valued the support and encouragement I have received from Mr Douglas Porter, Chair of MEC, who has been a great champion for the College.
“Congratulations to Ruth on her appointment – she is eminently qualified, not only as an academic, but also as someone who has parish and pastoral experience and Diocesan leadership experience through her time as an Archdeacon.
“These will be valuable gifts to bring to her new work, and especially to those moving towards ordination.
“The Archbishop’s invitation to her came after an exhaustive and thorough process and all involved in that process will now have great confidence in Ruth’s ability to lead the College in the years ahead.
“I pray that God will richly bless her time at SFC, and that the College will be that centre of excellence in teaching and formation in the years ahead that will help strengthen and vivify the Anglican Church Southern Queensland’s ongoing mission for Christ.”
St Francis College is based on a beautiful 3.6ha site in Milton and offers theological training for ordained and lay ministry; the well-established Roscoe Library; spiritual direction formation; professional supervision training; and, short online courses.
The Ministry Education Commission (MEC) includes St Francis College, as well as a number of other ministries, such as lay education ministry, FormedFaith; an intentional community of young people, Community of The Way; Anglican Youth Children and Families, which organises Ichthus camps; and urban farm project, Baroona Farm.