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Confessions of a Ridley Online Student

The Coronavirus pandemic has caused enormous disruption to everyone’s lives. At Ridley College, we asked one of our students, Paul Gaetjens, how he is faring.


My name is Paul Gaetjens and I’m the Assistant Minister of Austinmer and Thirroul Anglican Churches (just north of Wollongong, in NSW). I had previously studied theology but, after a long time in ministry, I have returned to part-time study so I can develop further skills and dive deeper into God’s word.

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Ridley College’s mission is to train men and women.

How has the Coronavirus crisis impacted your study?

I have mainly been studying online through Ridley, which has been fantastic. I have appreciated the flexibility and quality of the format.

What I’m missing this year is the ability to do some face-to-face intensives, which have been a crucial element in keeping me connected to other students. I have also needed to perform a dramatic mental shift as our kids are now home 24/7, and ministry has been thrown into an entirely new structure. This has required a certain amount of creative thinking that my brain has struggled to cope with, although I have enjoyed dusting off my video skills from my previous career – I can now combine the two!

What have been some of the challenges and triumphs of being a youth pastor while studying at Ridley College?

Young people keep you on your toes. The culture is changing very quickly and studying has allowed me to keep asking big questions such as: How does the Bible continue to be relevant to young people? What are their struggles and how does Jesus speak into these? And how can I assist in equipping young people not just to face the world, but to bring the gospel to bear in it?

How has your study equipped you to care pastorally for God’s people?

The challenge for me is to listen, and Ridley has certainly caused me to take a step back and not to assume I know all (if any!) of the answers.

Pastorally, I am learning to appreciate the rich variety of people in Christ’s church. I am discovering how different each person’s journey is. So my aim is to be better equipped to share the gospel with them, but also my life as well (1 Thessalonians 2:8).

What would you say to someone who was thinking about theological study?

Take the opportunity if you can, in whatever format is possible.

I have read books I would never have read, tackled issues I never would have thought of, and discovered how hard I can push myself (thank you, Greek!).

I hope to complete my studies by the end of this year – it’s been quite the journey, but I don’t regret a moment of it.


The world has recently undergone some dramatic changes. The disruption for some has been greater than for others, but no one has been unaffected.  For a variety of reasons, some people now find themselves with more time on their hands.

Doing some study at a theological college might be worth considering.

While it is true that Ridley College has a terrific campus and community life in Melbourne, we also offer a wide range of well-established online courses of study. More than half of our students study online, from all around Australia and beyond. Like Paul, they consistently report that their education with Ridley Online is highly engaging and gives them a deep knowledge of the Bible and its relevance in today’s world.

Ridley Online offers everything from diplomas with as few as four units of study, to Bachelor and Masters degrees. For more information, click here to visit Ridley College.

Every change brings with it not only challenges, but also new opportunities. Might this be the season for you to dig deep into God’s Wor

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