Avondale alumni celebrate 25th anniversary


Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

A reunion of all but two of its former presidents helped mark Avondale Alumni Association’s 25th anniversary celebrations at Homecoming, August 23-25.

Pastor Eric Davey received the association’s most prestigious award, Alumnus of the Year, for his 26 years of service in the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ministries (ATSIM).

The eight joined outgoing president Cornelius Szeszeran as Joan Patrick, wife of first president the late Dr Arthur Patrick, cut a cake in commemoration. Cornelius describes Dr Barry Hill, Lyn Ashby, Dr Glynn Litster, Dr Owen Hughes, Pastor Calvyn Townend, Pastor Roger Nixon, Jenny Laredo Hilder and Pastor Desmond Hills as providing a “good grounding” for the role of president. “I felt honoured to be in their company,” he says.

Murdoch Lecture

The return of the Murdoch Lecture opened Homecoming. Speaker Dr John Skrzypaszek, director of the Ellen G White Seventh-day Adventist Research Centre, argued that heritage is not a source of information about the past but of inspiration for our quest to discover meaning and purpose. The association dedicated the lecture to Arthur, a historian who also served formerly as curator of the centre and as an honorary senior research fellow at Avondale College of Higher Education.

Collage of images from Avondale Alumni Association’s Homecoming this year. [Photo courtesy: Ann Stafford]


The giving of citations honoured others, particularly those with a link to indigenous Australians. Pastor Eric Davey received the association’s most prestigious award, Alumnus of the Year, for his 26 years of service in the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ministries (ATSIM). Over this time, Eric helped establish the Karalundi Aboriginal Education Centre and Mamarapha College.

The college’s first and only principal, Pastor Gordon Stafford, received a citation from the class of 1973—he has served at Mamarapha for 17 years.

Classmates of Duane Vickery (1993) honoured his contribution to education and training. The former manager for indigenous sport and recreation in Tasmania and recipient of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sports Award for program innovation has served in leadership roles for the Indigenous Land Corporation and the Australian National Training Authority and now runs his own company.

Half of the theology graduating class of 1973 gathered at Avondale College’s homecoming weekend from August 23-25. From left to right: Malcolm Bull, Gordon Stafford, Eric Livingston, Warren Federow, Alan Walshe, Ray Roennfeldt, Barry Gane, Paul Lee, Aaron Jeffries, Barry Oliver, David Robertson, John Wells and Peter Harrison (who actually delayed his graduation until 1980, but was with the class for most of the four-year course).

Five other alumni, one from each of the other honour years, joined Gordon and Duane as citation recipients: retired minister and missionary Pastor Sydney Stocken (1943); retired chaplain, pastoral educator and bioethics advocate Dr Tom Ludowici (1953); the late educator, nutritionist and businesswoman Robyn Stanton (1963); retired church administrator and minister Pastor Don Hosken (1983); and minister and director for Adventist youth ministries for the church in Victoria Pastor Moe Ioane Stiles (2003).

Helen Hall received the association’s Alumna of the Year award for her lifelong commitment to the mission service of the church and to the ministry of education—she founded Eden Valley Academy for Karen refugees in northwestern Thailand and has nurtured the school for three decades as principal.

Also honoured for her mission service, nurse Melissa Fischer, the recipient of the association’s Young Alumnus of the Year award. Melissa’s returned twice—once for four months—to her mother’s birthplace in the Philippines, helping local Adventist churches run children’s clubs and health programs.

War and Peace

The college launched a rebranding of its music program at the beginning of the Homecoming concert. War and Peace, a performance of Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace, featured all of Avondale’s music ensembles and is the first presented by the Avondale Conservatorium. “The name is more inclusive and emphasises the cohesiveness of our program,” says Aleta King, the director of the conservatorium. She introduced the conservatorium staff members before president Professor Ray Roennfeldt offered a dedicatory prayer.

Market Day Southlake

Fifty stallholders selling natural, healthy food and handmade clothing and accessories or representing community organisations helped bring a festive feel to campus during Market Day Southlake. Homecoming Committee chair Janet Rieger says the event, which closed the weekend, “provided another opportunity for us as alumni to make connections, especially with the wider community.”

Crazy hats and colourful cupcakes contributed to the festive feel of Market Day Southlake.