Looking back on 2021: Theological School

By Xeverie Swee

Our Theological School's student president Xeverie Swee provides a reflection on the year.

Xeverie SweeThe 2020-21 academic year will be unforgettable for many. If there is one thing that marks 2021, it is the lockdowns. Melbourne had no shortage of them this year. We are so used to living in this COVID-19 climate that at the sound of a ‘spike’ in COVID numbers, we were urged to retreat into isolation. The only thing that was constant in 2021 was change: from postponement of important dates to the showing of vaccination certificates for entry to public venues, and the never-ending change in government restrictions. Prior to 2020 and 2021, who would have thought that Melbourne will be in hard lockdown for almost two years, with the occasional well-cherished liberation in between.

Somehow, fighting this pandemic is like fighting a war against an invisible enemy – we don’t know where it originated, how many lives it will take, and what other mutations are out there. If we had to use two words to describe 2021, “anxiety” and “uncertainty” are probably top of the chart.

In August this year we had to cancel the Archbishop’s dinner at Trinity College Theological School due to COVID, then had to cancel the Trinity Evensong at short notice. But God has proven, again and again, that he can redeem all circumstances for good. There are many things to be thankful for as I recount the year.

This year I completed my Greek A and B, entirely online, with the kind assistance of our lecturer Chris. I have completed Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) during one of the most challenging times at the Peter Mac cancer hospital.

I have also completed a capstone unit under the watchful eyes of our dedicated lecturer the Revd Mark Lindsay. Mark always started our session with a gentle nudge, asking us how we were travelling and if we were okay. It warms my heart that our lecturers are not just concerned about our grades but our wellbeing too, and they are always open to listening to and assisting us. Our capstone topic this year is “peace”, which seem like a simple word, but in this time of uncertainty and turmoil, “peace” is the antidote to anxiety and uncertainty brought about by the COVID pandemic. The Bible is interspersed with scriptures on peace. Ironically, it was in prison (a place full of tribulation and fear) that Paul wrote his famous prison epistles that bring peace and liberation, throughout the generations.

Reflecting on these last two years of my educational life at the Trinity College Theological School, I felt the peace of God in my heart despite the difficulties COVID posted. I have welcomed every opportunity to assist at the Monday afternoon service, and to lead and volunteer in many areas of college life. Recently, I was invited to St John’s Camberwell to read and pray at the carols service. It is a joy to see parishioners coming back to church and enjoying fellowship and worship at church. Amongst the many gifts that lockdown has given us, it has shown me that life is precious and time spent with beloved family and friends is to be cherished.  

As the year draws to a close, I have many things to be grateful for. I have made some lifelong friendships at Trinity College and I am grateful for the beautiful and caring lecturers who God has placed as custodians for us in our formation. Next year, I will be ordained a Deacon at St Paul’s Cathedral and, like students before me, I will move on to my posting as an Assistant Curate.

In this, the Dean of the Trinity College Theological School, the Revd Canon Dr Bob Derrenbacker and the head of Trinity’s ministry formation program, the Revd Fergus King, have shown their  dedication to the students of Trinity College Theological School; shaping, moulding and mentoring us and leading us through one of the most challenging times in the Australian higher education system.

I also have my home parish St Peter’s Eastern Hill, Fr Hugh Kempster and the St Peter’s crew; RMIT lay minister Alae Taule’alo, St Peter’s serving guild and head server Anthony Schepis, our church wardens Rachel Ellyard, Stephen Duckett and Daniel Ferguson to thank. It is encouraging to see the church glue together and hold each other up by telephone and Zoom prayer sessions when the going gets tough.

As Christians, we were taught to ‘let the peace of God rule’ in our hearts. Jesus gave His disciples peace based on the truth that He has overcome the world. As we approach the season of Advent 2021, let's trust in the Lord that he will bring all things to fruition, let’s rest in Him and allow the peace that surpasses all understanding to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.


07 Dec 2021
Category: Theological School