Exceeding expectations

We are a diverse community, but all of our students share in the experience of exceeding their expectations through the learning and formation to which God has called them.

Theological education changes us. It is meant to: whatever our background, whatever our experience, whatever our Church tradition, whatever our gifts and talents, a programme of theological study or ministerial formation involves us in mind and heart and promotes personal, intellectual, and spiritual change. At St Augustine’s, we support and encourage this change, knowing that your formation will not conform to any fixed and invariable standard and that we’d betray our mission if we aimed at a characteristic ‘product’, a ‘type’.

We have learned to expect surprises, to rejoice as you find yourself going beyond your expectations, discovering unanticipated strengths and capacities, and learning that grace exceeds dreams. St Augustine’s will encourage and support you as you develop your spiritual maturity, your courage and your readiness for social and personal change, as you engage in theologically reflective practice, and as you honour your commitment to lifelong formation.

Meet some students

"I was a civil servant for over 20 years before going through discernment for the priesthood. I actually started as an Independent student, but then Ordination was recommended for me so I switched and became a full-time Ordained Ministry student.

The people studying here are pretty diverse, with a range of life and academic experiences. Some have done a great deal, but others are less experienced, and that makes for a lot of different attitudes towards study! It’s very different from my experience as an undergraduate student before. Everybody gets challenged, one way or another, but in a really friendly, supportive environment. "
Harriet Hall Curate (PGDip), Rochester Diocese
"My career so far has been in teaching and education, and bringing up my two, now teenage, children. But when I came to a crossroads in life, talking with my priest helped to clarify my calling to ministry. Then the discernment process over the course of a year, involving meeting the DDO and going through the BAP, confirmed my suitability for training.

I had already walked away from a full-time job to become a carer for one of my children, who has a disability. I did look at residential training, but my daughter was preparing for GCSEs so I didn’t want to uproot the family. At St Augustine’s, I found a beautiful place with amazing staff, and felt immediately embraced and welcomed by everyone.

My training and family commitments involve an awful lot of juggling and plate-spinning, but it’s all do-able, especially in such a supportive college family.

I originally started at St Augustine’s as an Independent student, before transferring to the Ordination pathway. For the first time, I worked with a female priest. I realised that female priests bring a different way of engaging with faith, and it was a real eye-opener. It’s been 25 years now since women were first ordained, and with more female bishops now – like Sarah Mullally of London – it’s bringing such positive change. "
Delorine Green Ordinand, Southwark Diocese
"In becoming a Reader in training, I wanted to understand more about the context of the Old and New Testaments and how these ancient scriptures can relate to our lives today.
Being able to study the scriptures in detail, and as part of a learning community, has turned out to be a profound experience. On one level, I feel more informed about the context in which they were written – when, by whom, why, and to whom – which helps me to reflect on the wisdom, insight and inspiration the Bible still offers to busy lives today. But I’ve also found this understanding and insight life-changing. When you study these texts in detail, they begin to open up to you and change the way you view your life, your relationships and the wider world.

It pushes your horizons back and you see things with different eyes. And the more you discover, the more you want to learn.

One of the first things we were asked to do, as part of the discernment process was to write about our spiritual journey – where we started, and how we’d got to where we were. Not physically or geographically but in terms of our faith, beliefs and values. It’s a really challenging thing to do, actually. You’re really baring your soul, sharing an intensely personal part of you with strangers. But like many difficult things, it’s worth doing, as you begin your formation journey by learning a great deal about yourself.

Because the tutors at St Augustine’s are all clergy, they lift the teaching from academic historical study to something far more faith-based. This means that what you learn has direct impact on your life and belief and becomes less about acquiring knowledge and understanding, and more about being.

I’m based in the Channel Islands, so I’m doing my course mostly by remote learning – linking up with weekly classes via webinar – but I get to meet up in person on study days and weekends. It’s a different way of being part of a learning community, but it’s wonderful that technology allows me to do it. "
Sara Jane Allen Reader Ministry Student (Cert), Canterbury Diocese
"I come from a clergy family, and in fact both my Dad and my Aunt previously studied at St Augustine’s. So I had quite a clear idea of the place beforehand.

The calling to ordination took me a little bit by surprise. Once I accepted it though, I knew I wanted to study part-time and continue with my job, and didn’t want to uproot my family.

As an academic myself, I had high expectations, and I haven’t been disappointed, and I’ve also appreciated the high level of support offered here. My first placement didn’t work out, and the College really helped me to find an alternative. Formation can be a bit of a rollercoaster, and St Augustine’s is a really good place to be whilst riding it.

Deepening my faith through developing a greater knowledge of God is a central part of the formation process for me. What you learn doesn’t stay cerebral, but becomes part of how you act in your daily life or in your work. We talk a lot about formation, but I also like to see it as ‘animation’, as your deepened faith and knowledge are integrated into all of life. "
Judith Brooks Ordinand, Southwark Diocese
"I’d been a Lay Reader in my Church for 26 years when I started to feel a nudge towards Ordained Ministry. I was a bit reluctant at first, though, as I was a full-time teacher.

Now I’m teaching part-time, and I love the way study fits around my life. Once I’m ordained, I’d like to teach in the mornings and have a self-supporting ministry in the afternoons. I
enjoy the mix of people from different backgrounds and cultures. The support of other students is vital and you become very close to people, and it’s good to be able to spend time with other types of student – those studying independently, or to become Lay Readers.

The Easter residential is a particular highlight. It’s a chance to spend that time getting to know people, but also staying at the King’s School in Canterbury is great. Most importantly of all, though, daily worship in Canterbury Cathedral is beyond wonderful. "
Amanda Lane Curate (BA), Canterbury Diocese
"I’m currently in my final year of part-time study for Ordination. The road to ordination in the Church of England has been quite a long one, but in a way its twists and turns have helped me to be sure of my calling.

I was brought up in a Church of England family, but became interested in Roman Catholicism as a teenager and eventually converted. I was actually accepted for training to become a Roman Catholic priest. However, just before starting training, I met the woman who is now my wife.

My return to the Church of England was gradual; partly as a result of our son singing in his school’s chapel choir, I realised I missed it. After attending church for a while I began to explore the possibility of ordination, as the call had never left me – it just took a while for my path to become clear.

Then, at a crucial point in discernment, the incumbent at my church in Croydon retired, which could have derailed the whole thing; but fortunately I had the support of a retired Bishop, who assisted during the interregnum and who helped me complete the process.

The discernment process can feel interminable, especially if, like me, you’ve taken a while to understand what God is calling you to do. But there are always people out there who can and will help, and will speak to you with knowledge. Don’t give up.

You have to consider time management very carefully when you’re juggling career and part-time ordination study. You’re not just juggling study, work and family life, but also broad commitments like increased participation in your parish, and residential weekends. But it is all doable; we’re well supported by the Collage, and you’ll manage. "
David Povall Ordinand, Southwark Diocese
"My faith has been important to me for much of my life, and I am active in my church. But I was increasingly finding that I didn’t feel competent talking about my faith, feeling that my ability to articulate it was limited by my knowledge, so I chose to become an Independent student at St Augustine’s.

Now, in the middle of my second year as a part-time student, I have to say that the academic study experience is challenging. I already have a PhD, but it’s in a science discipline, and humanities study is somewhat different!

But at the same time, theological reflection is very useful for working out where I am, and forces me to think about things differently. As Christians, we are all thinking about our vocation all the time, and finding a new perspective on it is so useful.

The way that the course is structured is really helpful when you’re juggling study with work and family. I juggle my professional life as clinical academic physiotherapist at King’s College, London with bringing up three children and some voluntary work, so being able to study part-time is essential to enable me to fit everything in. "
Julie Witney Diploma Student