By Stephen Cauchi
1 February 2022
A NEW Melbourne seminary will aim to sustain long and faithful ministry in its residents’ lives, as it looks to welcome trainee priests in early 2023.
St Agnes’ House will be the first Anglican seminary to open in Melbourne for several decades.
An initiative of St Agnes’ Glen Huntly, the facility aims to recapture the way priests were trained when seminaries were common.
St Agnes’ priest the Reverend Dr Alexander Ross said the house would draw on some of the training patterns of the past which were no longer happening.
Dr Ross said residential seminaries used to be the dominant way priests trained for ministry, but in Australia this had mostly given way. He himself trained for two years at an Anglican theological college in England.
Dr Ross said such opportunities were critically important because of the maturity gained through communal living, as people learnt to bear with each other in close settings.
“Living alongside one another, praying for each other and with each other, and studying together and reflecting together and journeying with others, quite intensively, in that time before ordination is a real gift for sustaining a long and faithful ministry,” Dr Ross said.
At St Agnes’ House, three ordinands will live together for three years, while studying a theology course through Trinity College.
Dr Ross said they would have a whole extra program on top of their studies, connecting the academic work with ideas around what it meant to live a priestly life, and to engage and connect with the world of mission.
The seminary sits next to St Agnes’ Glen Huntly, in the former vicarage. Dr Ross said this meant there was a real overlap with the life of the church.
The three ordinands may be men or women and must be aged under 35. Dr Ross said the age limit aimed to cater for people who could still give a lifetime of ministry.
Dr Ross said the seminary was the first to open in Melbourne for some time. He said Ridley College, which opened in 1910, was the last to open still in existence.
He said idea for a seminary came from planning around how to use the church’s former vicarage, with an enthusiastic response from the congregation and parish council of St Agnes’.
Dr Ross said house was also a way of fulfilling the mission action plan of St Agnes’: to reconnect with the local community.
The house was officially launched on Sunday 22 January, with speeches from the Dean of Trinity College Theological School, the Reverend Canon Bob Derrenbacker, and the vicar of Christ Church Brunswick, Bishop Lindsay Urwin.
It will welcome its first ordinands in 2023, after the building is renovated.
Dr Ross said prospective deacons as well as priests would also be welcome to apply.
More information is available at: saintagneshouse.org.