From the Principal - Thank you and farewell Reverend Jenny Willsher

Posted 3 September 2021 3:26pm

Our very popular and well-respected Chaplain, Reverend Jenny Willsher, has decided to retire. I would like to take this opportunity to thank her for her commitment and love, her support and her goodness.

During her time at the school, Reverend Jenny has helped to build and support the faith of every student and every staff member. Her passion for the school and its students is reflected in her commitment to ensuring that every student is supported and should have the opportunity to be the best at whatever they choose to be, through respect and inclusion. The breadth of her impact was recognised at the end of 2020, when she was awarded the CGGS Award for Outstanding Service to the School Community.

An uncommon path

As Jenny wrote in her ENews article (August 19), people are often surprised when they learn she is both a scientist and a priest.

Following in the footsteps of an exceptional group, who throughout the ages, have been theologians or devout people of faith – the Vatican even has its own observatory.

‘My personal experience is that my studies in science have brought me closer to God as I reflect in awe on the complexity and beauty of our universe.’

Following school in NSW, Jenny studied a Bachelor of Science Degree at the University of Newcastle. She then worked as a Laboratory Manager for a winery in the Hunter Valley, was a research assistant for Forests Victoria and a microbiologist for Roche Pharmaceuticals in Sydney.

Whilst working, she studied for her Bachelor of Divinity Degree by Distance Education and on completion of this theology degree was ordained in the Diocese of Newcastle, NSW in 1989. She then served in four Parishes in that Diocese and whilst in Parish Ministry studied for a Master of Applied Ethics degree at the University of Newcastle.

In 2000, she went to Fiji (along with her husband, Rev Dr David Willsher and her son Joshua) sponsored by the Anglican Board of Mission, where she lectured in Ethics, Counselling and Pastoral Ministry at the Pacific Theological College. On returning to Australia, she and David were joint heads of St John's Theological College Morpeth, NSW, where Jenny continued lecturing and preparing Anglican students for Ordination. From 2006 - 2017 Jenny was Head of St Martin’s College, an Anglican residential College on the Charles Sturt University Wagga Wagga campus. She was then Rector of Woden Parish in the ACT, before starting as Chaplain at CGGS.

Reverend Jenny joined us in 2020, but I felt I knew her for nearly 12 months before I actually met her. Her wonderful husband, the late Rev Dr Willsher, spoke so highly of Jenny in every conversation with me; he described her as a super-woman, and every word he said is true. Jenny and I first met at David's funeral, and we both knew she would be the next Chaplain at CGGS.

During Jenny's time here, she has guided us, the students, staff and families through a time of growth, success and achievement, as well as sadness and crisis. So wise, and I am not the only one who constantly marvels at her capacity to provide stable, reliable leadership and ensure our Anglican faith and her ministry provide a guiding light no matter what the circumstances.

Her kindness will be her legacy and will be felt by students, families and the community long after Reverend Jenny has left the campus. She is leaving the school at the end of the term, but promises not to be a stranger. We wish Jenny all the very best in her retirement as she looks forward to spending time with her elderly parents, Joshua, family and friends.

Our new Chaplain

And as we farewell our good friend Reverend Jenny, I am delighted to share with our community the appointment of Father Christopher Lewis as the new Chaplain at Canberra Girls Grammar School.

Father Chris, who is coming to us from the Royal Australian Navy, will commence at CGGS at the start of Term 4, once he completes his quarantine in the ACT.

We all look forward to meeting him soon and in the meantime, I encourage you to learn more about Father Chris on the article here.

Please join me in making him very welcome.


Mrs Anna Owen


spinner gif