“The Chapel, its furnishings, its place in the physical centre of the School, is there to remind us all of the mysteries of life and death – a place where a person might, either in the liturgy of the Church or alone in the quiet, come to realise that God is at the heart of all that remains mysterious and yet unknown to us, and that here, we can experience as much as we are able, His energising presence.”
So wrote Father Alf Stringer in his “Chapel Notes” for the 1989 School Magazine when he returned as School Chaplain for a brief period, following Father Roy Gilbert’s move to Guildford Grammar School in Western Australia.
Father Alf was a person who lived and breathed in the strength of this “energising presence” to which he refers. I remember Father Alf most clearly in his time after St Peter’s College, when he was the Parish Priest of Millicent in the South East in the 1990s. He was someone who was always present when talking to you. His bright eyes and calm demeanour invited you to relax in his presence and truly to feel affirmed.
Father Alf was the Chaplain of St Peter’s College from 1974–1983 and then again for a brief time from 1989–1990. He is remembered by former and current staff as a calm presence in the School, who was highly respected and loved by staff and students alike.
He embodied what it means to be an outstanding School Chaplain. Mike and Doris Bleby, good friends of Father Alf wrote, “We will miss his intellectual company and wise theological thoughts.” They described him as a:
- Loving and caring son and brother
- Respected, valued friend
- Scholar, theologian, teacher, mentor
- Actor and producer of plays
- Lover of literature, music and art
- Connoisseur of fine food, wine and scotch
- Always the gentleman
- Above all, a faithful servant of his Lord and Master.
Father Alf was someone with a very witty sense of humour, whose jokes at morning tea during his time as president of the common room were delivered with brilliant vocabulary and timing. He was a lover of liturgy and of the place of the Chapel in the life of the School. As our School Organist, Mr Norm Inglis put it, “His affection for the Chapel was behind all he did and culminated in the splendid gift of flood lights to enhance the sanctuary in evensong services. These remain a wonderful token of his service to the School.”
Before coming to Saints Father Alf taught at Melbourne Grammar School and Scotch College, Adelaide. He had also taught briefly in two Scottish schools: Cagilfield, Edinburgh and Trinity College, Glenalmond. He completed his theological studies at St Michael’s House, Crafers.
After his time at St Peter’s College he served as a parish priest in the Diocese of the Murray in the South East of South Australia, serving in Keith and Naracoorte, before finishing his full time ministry in Millicent.
At the end of his 91 years, he was comfortable and died peacefully. A Requiem Mass was celebrated for him in St Michael and All Angels Anglican Church, Millicent, South Australia on Tuesday 27 March.
The Reverend Dr Theo McCall, School Chaplain