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Graduation Doxology for Saint Andrew’s Theological College in Sydney

On 19 June, the Dedication Service for Graduates of St Andrew’s Theological College was celebrated in the Cathedral of the Annunciation (Redfern, NSW). The evening’s proceedings began with a formal procession of clergy, faculty and graduates into the Cathedral. A Doxological Service was chanted by two choirs of alumni, students and members of the Byzantine Music School of Australia. His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia, as College Dean, recited a benediction over the graduates and conferred them with the College’s ecclesiastical certificate. Since this Dedication Service could not take place the previous year due to public health orders and restrictions, both the ‘Class of 2021’ and ‘Class of 2022’ were invited to celebrate together on this occasion.

In his address to the graduating students and the congregation, His Eminence gave thanks to God for the work of the College in Australia.

“We are celebrating, this afternoon, a most joyous occasion in the life of our Theological College and the Holy Archdiocese of Australia more broadly — an important milestone for our graduating students. We are honouring, today, their outstanding accomplishments upon the successful completion of their theological studies.

We have also gathered together in this Cathedral to formally dedicate our graduates for service and ministry within the Church, whatever form this ministry may take — some will be ordained into the Priesthood, others will become teachers of his Word, chaplains, catechists and so on—yet the hope is that they will remain united in offering their gifts for the glory of God and the salvation of His people.

Indeed, my beloved graduates, as you commence your ministry, you will come to see that there is no greater joy than giving witness to this living Word of hope, and to His comfort and consolation in a world in great need of stability, benevolence, goodness and peace — indeed, the ‘peace coming from above’ as we repeat at every divine Liturgy. What you will also come to see is that the power of Christ’s Word alone can create lasting connections, enduring concord and consonance in a world stricken today by the pain of division, dissent and disharmony.

As you ‘go forth’ (cf. Mt 28:19) today in order to “carry out your ministry fully” (2Tim 4:5) — as St Paul tells us in his letter to Timothy — with your hearts set aflame with love for Christ our God, we pray that you will hold fast to what you were taught throughout your studies at St Andrew’s. You were introduced to the inexhaustible wealth and pristine beauty of the early Church’s encounter with Christ, as this was witnessed through the Scriptures, through her Fathers, her Ecumenical Councils, her sacred history, her Liturgy, her music and iconography — to name a few — with the hope that you too could respond in the way that the apostle Peter did to Christ’s question “who do you say that I am?” (Mt 16:16).

In your studies, you discovered that theology, far from being speculative abstractions about God, is first and foremost an openness to a gift that comes from our heavenly Father in the person of Jesus Christ, especially as this is experienced doxologically through our prayer and worship … Furthermore, you were taught that you come to encounter Christ in your love towards the other; and that therefore, in our service and charity towards others, we serve Christ himself …

The Church’s prayer, therefore, today, is that you do indeed become joyful witnesses to this light of the kingdom in this world; or in the wise words of His All-Holiness our Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew: “trust[ing] in God’s love and our reflection of that love”, may you “live the present in all its fullness, comforted by [your] vision of eternity”  and is so doing, become “witnesses of the life that came to the world through Christ.”

His Eminence acknowledged the efforts and collaboration of so many people of good will, both Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike. He described the College’s long-standing membership of the Sydney College of Divinity (SCD) as a particular blessing and warmly greeted Revd Prof. Gerard Kelly, Chair of the SCD Academic Board, and Prof. Diane Speed, Dean Emeritus of the SCD.

Honouring this important occasion with their presence was His Eminence Metropolitan Basilios of the Antiochian Church in Australia, His Grace Bishop Iakovos of Miletoupolis, the Very Revd Archimandrite Fr Christophoros Krikelis, Archdiocese Chancellor, the Honourable Consul General for Greece in Sydney, Mr Christos Karras, other distinguished guests and colleagues from within the SCD, as well as reverend clergy and Archdiocesan council members.

Students graduating with undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications were acknowledged as noted below:

His Grace Bishop Christodoulos of Magnesia (Bachelor of Theology)

Fr Timothy Klintsaris (Bachelor of Theology)

Fr Nicholas Carmona Torres (Bachelor of Theology)

Fr Alexander Aziz (Graduate Diploma of Arts)

Deacon Jason Israel (Master of Theology)

Deacon Meliton Haridemos (Bachelor of Theology)

Dionysios Bozikis (Bachelor of Theology), who was also the recipient of the ‘Kostoula Tsabalas Memorial Prize’, awarded by the College Dean at the recommendation of the College’s Faculty Board to the most exemplary student who completed the Bachelor of Theology program. This award honours the life and work of the late Kostoula Tsabalas, a tireless volunteer and generous supporter of the Greek Orthodox Church of our Lord’s Resurrection in Kogarah, Sydney, until her death in 2014, and was established by her family to honour her memory.

Melhem Makdessi (Bachelor of Theology)

Nicholas Koutras (Master of Theology)

Milan Stanimirovic (Master of Theology)

Matthew Novic (Master of Theological Studies)

Joanna Deegan (Master of Arts)

Anastasia Markakis (Master of Arts)

Chris Koniditsiotis (Graduate Diploma of Theological Studies)

Sandy Symeonides (Graduate Diploma of Theological Studies)

Nick Galathris (Graduate Diploma of Theological Studies)

Theofania Anagnostakis (Graduate Certificate in Theological Studies)

Apostolos Lagoutatzis (Diploma of Christian Studies)

Terry Pitsikas (Diploma of Christian Studies)

In Absentia

Fr Kiryakos Peripetsakis (Diploma of Christian Studies)

Daniel Saliba (Master of Theology)

Andrew Helmy (Master of Arts)

Christopher Nicolopoulos (Graduate Diploma of Theological Studies)

Anna Vagias (Graduate Diploma of Theological Studies)

Adam Wesselinoff (Graduate Diploma of Theological Studies)

Samar Ojaimi (Graduate Diploma of Theological Studies)

Stavros Kosmatos (Associate Degree of Christian Thought and Practice)

Georgia Anassis (Diploma of Christian Studies)

These two latest groups of graduates brought to 222 the total number of graduates (including 75 ordained clergymen) – receiving 259 SCD degrees and awards at various levels, but primarily the Bachelor of Theology – since St Andrew’s opened in 1986.