Sr Margaret Beirne : A life dedicated to educationPrint
Sr Margaret: Member of the RSC Council and lecturer
From my earliest days of ministry in the Sisters of Charity, I have been privileged to be a teacher. It is a vocation in itself and one to which I continue to feel called. After many years in secondary education I am now working in the tertiary sector.
For the past seven years, I have been senior lecturer in Biblical Studies at St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College Sydney. As well as the full-time seminarians, there are about eighty lay-people doing undergraduate and post-graduate studies, mostly part-time.
The majority are Greek but I also have students who belong to the Antiochene, Serbian, and Coptic branches of the Orthodox Church.
For each of my course units, I teach both face-to-face and online. My subjects include introductory courses in Old and New Testaments, the four Gospels, Pauline Studies, Psalms, Lukan Literature and the Gospel of John.
The Orthodox tradition has always maintained a strong promotion of Patristics, the writings of the early church Fathers (and occasional Mothers such as Macrina).
Each year I have participated in the Patristic Symposium that is sponsored by St Andrew’s where Australian and overseas scholars present papers and engage in discussion with a wide audience.
The focus is one particular Father – for example, St Gregory of Nazianzus (2011), St Athanasius (2013), and St John Chrysostom (2016). For those who wish, our papers are edited and published in the journal Phronema.
But, over and above my ministry as a biblical scholar and teacher, is the wonderful way I am able to contribute ecumenically, not so much in theory as in practical experience.
Our Dean, Archbishop Stylianos, refers to me as “part of the family” and, along with his auxiliary, the other faculty members, and students, has consistently made me most welcome.
The other aspect of my ministry at St Andrew’s is that our students are faith-filled and thoroughly committed members of their church community.
This makes it a real joy as I am able to encourage them, during our teaching sessions, to integrate what they have learned from the Scriptures into their prayer life.
Although my Congregational ministry has meant that I have had to reduce my hours at St Andrew’s, it is a blessing that I have been able to continue to teach and to grow in my appreciation of this great and ancient Christian tradition. As one of my colleagues has generously said of my being there: “I feel that, since you came to St Andrew’s, we have begun to breathe with both lungs.”
- This article first appeared in Keep In Touch (KIT) in March 2017. If you would like to be included in KIT magazine email out, please email James Griffiths at the Congregation office and he will add you to the distribution list.