Hazel Creagh: Theological Hall gives thanks

To the great sorrow of her family and friends, Hazel Creagh died unexpectedly on Wednesday 8 February.

Born into the Mather family on 4 July 1939, Hazel grew up in the Leederville Congregational Church and married a young farmer, Jim Creagh. When they later moved to the city, Jim and Hazel joined the Presbyterian Coolbellup congregation. In 1974, Coolbellup became part of the Hilton-Cockburn joint parish, in which Hazel and Jim were important leaders. Hazel participated in a course for lay preachers held locally under the Theological Hall Faculty’s oversight. Around the time of the union of the churches in 1977, she became a member of the Presbytery of Peel and the Synod’s Board of Ministry, convening the latter’s group overseeing the Division of Nurture. In 1978, she became a Presbytery representative on the Joint Presbyteries’ Settlements Advisory Committee.

Seeing a need at the Perth Theological Hall, Hazel offered her voluntary support to the Principal, starting from October 1980. The Faculty was happy to appoint her as its secretary. Hazel brought to the Hall a valuable range of gifts and skills, which unfolded further as time went on. She had offered to be an administrative assistant to the Principal, and continued in that role, but quickly proved her value as an officer and representative of the faculty, a wise participant in its meetings, and a source of personal and pastoral support for lecturers, candidates and others more on the Hall’s fringes. Hazel had a very good understanding of people, of constructive processes, and of theological and educational issues. She was consultative and collegial, never confronting or competitive, and contributed significantly to the health and strength of the faculty and the whole Hall community, which was also able to get to know Jim and their children.

Hazel soon became the organizer and registrar of the Lay Ministries Program, jointly developed and offered by the faculty and a group for lay education in the Anglican Church. She picked up most of the administration and publicity for the annual schools of theology for ministers and lay schools of theology. She represented the faculty for periods on the Ministerial Education Board’s Candidates Committee and on the Settlements Committee, and served on selection panels for candidates. As a continuing member of the Coolbellup, later Maaman ‘O’ Miya, Uniting Church, she played an important role in relation to Aboriginal and Tongan students.

In 1989, Hazel’s position was turned into a full-time paid appointment. By then, the Hall had joined other theological colleges in the Perth College of Divinity (PCD), which affiliated with Murdoch in 1986 and offered a theology program at the university. With all formal academic classes held at Murdoch, Hazel’s continuing presence at the Hall’s home base at Kingswood and St Columba Colleges became even more important. In 1990, Hazel was appointed Registrar of the PCD. When Murdoch gave PCD lecturers fractional appointments from mid-1994, it wanted also to take the PCD Registrar on to its general (administrative) staff. Hazel arranged for a four-fifths position, so that she could continue as Faculty Secretary and participate in the Hall’s Wednesday program of worship, fellowship, and formational activities.

Hazel’s presence in the Murdoch program office again provided an important point of contact, reference, and cohesion for staff and students. She quickly found her place in the Murdoch general staff and was at least once appointed as its representative on an important committee. She resigned as Faculty Secretary in 1997 and retired from Murdoch in 2000. She and Jim have lived in retirement at Gidgegannup.

All who were involved with the Perth Theological Hall during Hazel’s time there share her family’s grief at her loss.

Michael Owen

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