The need for a Theological College committed to the training of Priests had been conceived by Archbishop Ezekiel, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church from 1959-1974, and former Dean of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Boston. His pioneering efforts saw the founding of a Seminary, which even though not formally accredited and recognised by the educational authorities, saw the enrolment of a small number of students. These would be offered some preliminary formative education before being sent to Greece to study and gain their formal qualifications.
As an accredited institution, St Andrew’s was established in Sydney in 1986 by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia. Its purpose was to provide accredited tertiary level education and training for Christian Orthodox clergy, theologians, lay teachers and ministers so as to meet the catechetical and pastoral needs of the Orthodox Church in Australia. From its inception, it was also intended to be a centre of ecumenical scholarship and learning, with the aim of bringing an Orthodox Christian presence to the Australian theological scene as a whole.
It was during the Fourth Clergy-Laity Congress (1981) that a proposal, put forward by Archbishop Stylianos to establish a Theological College, was adopted by the delegates. This resulted in the appointment of an Interim Committee to consider and suggest ways of facilitating the operation of the Theological College and to prepare a suggested curriculum of studies. As a result of coordinated efforts, the College was officially opened on the 23rd February, 1986. Amongst the official dignitaries present on the day, the Dean of the Theological School of Halki, Metropolitan Maximus of Stavroupolis was present and read the congratulatory message of Ecumenical Patriarch Demetrios.
The establishment of a permanent accredited theological College could now train Australian-born clergy to meet the pastoral needs of the faithful in their own environment, while at the same time preserving a balanced view of Orthodox tradition and life. Thanks to the generous donations of a number of faithful, most notably, Sir Arthur George and the family of the late Michael Paspalis, the necessary funds to renovate and modify a wing of the premises Archdiocesan offices, saw the creation of a chapel, dedicated to St John the Evangelist, lecture rooms, a library, dormitories for interstate students and modest administrative offices and common areas for staff and students.
With the arrival of His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia in 2019, the College today looks forward to the next exciting phase of its life. From the very first moment of his arrival, Archbishop Makarios formally stated that the Theological College would be one of his most pressing concerns for the Church. At his enthronement address, he made special reference to the Theological College, stating: “I promise you that St Andrew’s Theological College will have my undivided support. In this way, St Andrew’s may fulfil its great mission and also declare the authentic Orthodox theological voice throughout our Australian society.” Already, within the first six months, he announced the development of a new purpose-built campus with state of the art facilities to better meet the needs and challenges of theological education in the 21st century.
Whilst only offering the Bachelor of Theology in its early days, today the College offers a broad suite of undergraduate and postgraduate awards in order to cater towards the different need of the faithful, especially the youth. These degrees are accredited by the Sydney College of Divinity which is listed on the National Register of Higher Education Providers as a Higher Education Provider with Self-Accrediting Authority. St Andrew’s also offers supervision for Sydney College of Divinity higher research awards in selected disciplines (Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Theology).
Today, the College endeavours to fulfil its mission of theological education in the service of the Church in Australia through a variety of initiatives which it has developed over the years.