St Barnabas Celebrates Academic Excellence at 2019 Commencement Service

On Wednesday the 13th of February, St Barnabas College (SBC) held its commencement service in St Peter’s Cathedral. The service is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the achievements of our students in the previous year. The graduates and prize winners were:

List of Graduates

Bachelor of Theology

Conrad Cabal (in absentia)

Sunita Cabral (in absentia)

Andrea McDougall

Bachelor of Theology with Distinction

Gerald Varley (in absentia)

Michael Rogers

Bachelor of Theology (Honours) First Class

Anthony Bondarenko

Doctor of Ministry

Mark Thomas

Doctor of Philosophy

Damian Szepessy

Prize winners

Albert Reginald Thrust Prize for Theological Studies

Awarded to Shane Ellery

Anglicare-SA Prize for Ministry

Awarded to Deborah Jeanes

St Peter’s Cathedral Prize for Best Commencing Student

Awarded to Peter Chapman

St Barnabas College Prize for Academic Excellence (UG)

Awarded to Michael Rogers

St Barnabas College Prize for Academic Excellence (PG)

Awarded to Anthony Bondarenko


Here are some of SBC’s students sharing their thoughts on their studies:

Peter Chapman – Recipient of St Peter’s Cathedral Prize for Best Commencing Student

Moving from a building site into academia was a big step for me. I knew that God was leading me into a new field which involved biblical study. This meant the need to form a sound theological foundation. I came to St Barnabas completely open and the SBC community and faculty were an exceptional support and encouragement. There have been many challenges, for instance, even though I am studying full-time, I have to continue my building work.

Study has, however, opened areas of research and writing which have helped in my unfolding discovery of the discipline of Theology – the way people think and act in faith and liturgy and how they as God’s Church have adapted, formed and reformed over the centuries.

I found study to be immensely rewarding. Being dyslectic, I had failed classes all through my schooling, so it was an overwhelming surprise to find I had achieved the best commencing student award, which is awarded to commencing students with the highest grade point average. I wish to thank all those at SBC who have supported me throughout my first year, it made all the difference.

Deborah Jeanes – Recipient of Anglicare-SA Prize for ministry

As a life- long learner I have always embraced study, completing a variety of education qualifications, both face to face and on-line. However, it was not until I commenced study at St Barnabas College, that the learning became transformational.

My initial introduction to St Barnabas was through my husband commencing an Interest only subject: Introduction to the Old Testament. Our dinner conversations soon changed dramatically and the following semester we both enrolled in an Introduction to Christian Theology. This study for me, led to a challenging and deepening of faith prompting enrolment in full time theological study and entry into the Discernment Program. Since then I have been ordained as a Deacon and continue to study and participate in Formation training, both at the college and through placement at St Michael’s Mitcham.

It is not only the course content and delivery at St Barnabas that that has been transforming, but also the opportunity to learn in a supportive community; a community that provides diverse theological perspectives, whilst firmly grounded in the Anglican tradition. The whole St Barnabas’ community support each other, so it was unexpected to be singled out to receive the Anglicare-SA Award for Ministry. You are not just a student at St Barnabas but a community member, encouraged to participate in the life of the college through Morning Prayer, social activities and additional ecumenical learning opportunities. Through this, we all pray, support and care for each other, to make study at St Barnabas not just a learning opportunity but transformational.

Michael Rogers – Bachelor of Theology and Recipient of St Barnabas College Prize for Academic Excellence (Undergraduate)

Studying a Bachelor of Theology at St Barnabas College has been a transformational experience. It was wonderful to discover more about the central Christian doctrines of: Creation, the Incarnation, Salvation in Christ, the Risen Christ, and the Triune God. Subjects like God, Humanity and Difference, and Theological Ethics offered practical frameworks for understanding how theology intersects with everyday life. Others like Liturgical Theology and Reformation History provided a solid foundation for what it means to be an Anglican. Others like Mission, Apologetics and Evangelism, and Being the Church were also helpful in exploring pathways for the Church in an ever-increasing secular society.

Theology is a topic that warrants lifelong learning and the study has awoken me to the reality that God is at work in the lives of God's people. It has helped me discern the call to hospital chaplaincy, aged care chaplaincy and parish ministry. At St Barnabas I felt well supported by fellow students, and greatly encouraged and assisted in learning by the dedicated lecturers. It was almost as much fun as playing Johnny B Goode at the school prom.

Anthony Bondarenko – Bachelor of Theology (Honours) First Class and recipient of St Barnabas College Prize for Academic Excellence (Postgraduate)

I seemed to find myself undertaking my honours at St Barnabas College by accident – and what a happy accident that was! I don’t regret my studies here for a moment. My time here has been encouraging, informative and transformational – I do believe I am a different person coming out from when I went in, and it’s in no small part due to something special which this place has. I have found myself surrounded by a community of lovely students, staff and lecturers, who have been more than concerned with who I am as a person, not just as a student number.

Furthermore, I have found the content to be thoroughly engaging and challenging, revealing the philosophical and methodological depth required to attempt the task of Theology, as well as allowing me to formulate and pursue my own interests in research.

Whilst I am not Anglican by tradition, I have an enduring respect for the Anglican church and its thinkers, and I believe that SBC embodies this at the local, community level in Adelaide.

The Rev’d Mark Thomas – Doctor of Ministry

After thirty years of service in the Province I recently retired from full time ministry and now offer support in my local parish and with teaching within the Diocese. I recently completed a Doctoral degree in Ministry which I commenced prior to retirement. In the thesis I submitted I explored what is known by a sample of Diocesan members about the content of the Gospels, how they interpret the Gospels and how individual commitment and attitudes to the Gospels affected their discipleship. The results of my survey and interview work confirmed the need for ongoing encouragement and equipping for the task of discipleship, which is consistent with the first stated intention of ‘Growth in Discipleship’ in the Diocesan Vision 2022 Statement.

Completing the degree through St Barnabas College was a rewarding experience. The College provides access to four top class theological libraries, and the librarians were invariably helpful. I enjoyed my attendance at seminars aimed at students completing higher degrees by research but most of all was grateful for excellent and unfailingly supportive supervision. If I was to offer any advice to prospective students, it would be to make sure your supervisory arrangements are as good as they can be. So far as I know I am the first in our Diocese to earn a Doctor of Ministry qualification. Its uniquely practical orientation has provided me with a background in applied research methods, procedures and requirements. Conscious of the opportunities and encouragement the Diocese has afforded me to further my study interests, I look forward to bringing what I have learnt to the use and benefit of the Diocese in whatever ways might be helpful.

Damian Szepessy – Doctor of Philosophy

I enjoyed my time studying at St Barnabas. The staff and student community was supportive, encouraging and took a genuine interest in my research project.

My research was on conversion with a focus on Philippi and the letter to the Philippians. I argued that conversion is a change of world view, values and beliefs. The research was motivated by my interest in the historical and political context of the New Testament and my curiosity as to why someone would choose to become a Christ-follower. In order to highlight why someone would belong to a Christ-following group, I decided to use Social Identity Theory (SIT), which focuses on the psychological motivations that influence group formation. SIT highlighted how Paul sought to form the identity of individuals as a change of world view, values and beliefs of those whom belonged to the church at Philippi. In the letter of Philippians, Paul calls the believers ‘citizens’ which he does not use in any of his letters. I argued that Paul called the believers citizens (1:27, 3:20) in order to help them become unified and form a new social identity.

My current interests remain in the New Testament with a focus on identity formation of the first believers.

St Barnabas College Principal, The Rev’d Dr Don Owers addresses the gathering

St Barnabas College Principal, The Rev’d Dr Don Owers addresses the gathering