Tuesday, October 28, 2014

September 2014 at Rosary Convent

The month of September heralds the coming of Spring here in Victoria, and our community was able to rejoice in the beautiful feast days of two of our members here at Rosary Convent. The feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin on September 15 had us commemorating the very first name day of Sister Maria Dolores, a canonical novice whose patron is none other than the Queen of Martyrs. The Mass and Office of that day recalls her Compassion with the Crucified Saviour and the Church's confidence in her maternal intercession for the redeemed faithful of Christ. May our dear Sister and our congregation continue to reap a rich spiritual harvest of graces for souls under the loving protection of a Mother who has suffered so much for our salvation.



The 29th of September was the Feast of St Michael the Archangel and Mother General’s Feast Day, and this year saw the Sisters at Rosary Convent making the day extra special in thanksgiving to Almighty God for our Foundress and Congregation.



As you might know, Mich-a-el means "who is like God," and it was this great Archangel who was chosen to lead God's army against Satan's forces. Thus Christian antiquity portrays him wielding a sword for he is truly the protector and the leader of the angelic army against the forces of evil. Indeed, there can be a parallel drawn between the great Archangel and the great St. Dominic who, in the 1200’s, was chosen by God to lead a new army of Religious – the Dominican Order.

St. Michael’s war cry is QUIS UT DEUS (who is like God?) and the Dominican motto is VERITAS (Truth). The Rosary worn by all Dominicans is attached on the left side and reflects both of these maxims as the sword used in their work of defending the Catholic faith and the interests of Christ. We thus honoured both St. Michael the Archangel and St Dominic in Mother Mary Micaela O.P. during this festive day.


This year, September the 29th fell on a Monday within the Spring term break. Our day at Rosary Convent began with Mass at Corpus Christi Church. It was a mild morning and heaven smiled sweetly down on us with the newness of spring, enabling us to lunch outside with our honoured guests Frs. Michael Delsorte and Jordie Stephens.

We then continued with tradition in the form of a festive play written by the Novices.  A light-hearted One-Act-Comedy, based on an adaptation of A.A Milne’s The Ugly Ducking, was performed by a cast of stately court characters who portrayed the hilarious predicament of a beautiful Princess deemed hideous by all who saw her. The desperate attempts of her family to marry her off to an unsuspecting Prince results in a whole series of mistaken and disguised identities before finally culminating in a happily-ever-after ending of a love match for the royal couple and a beautiful fruit cake set alight by sparklers for the delighted sisters.




Mother General laughed heartily at the anecdotes, wisecracks and hilarious scenes that were littered throughout the play and at seeing her fellow sisters displaying their dramatic acting talents. Props and costumes in the form of cloaks, crowns, wigs and beards were used lavishly, the most notable being a platinum blonde wig worn by Sister Mary Anna who played the handsome Prince and the thick black bushy beard sported by Mother Mary Rose who acted as the King.



Fides the puppy also made her first appearance in the play as a jester’s dog. She gamely served as a source of revulsion, in spite of her sweet appearance, to a Sister acting as an uptight cleaning lady. The excitement and effort seemed a bit too much for Fides at the end, and she was carried out for a well-earned rest.




The spring break was not to finish without a Community trip to the great Australian outdoors. Mount Cannibal, a mere 10 minute drive from the convent, was our next destination a few days after the festivities ended. At an elevation of 241 metres, this granite hill offered challenging hiking along its steep paths as well as a variety of native wild-flowers and trees.


We huffed and puffed our way up the rocky route. Two distinctive vegetation communities exist in this reserve, with healthy woodland in the lower area and lowland forest as we rise up the hill. 


Finally, we were rewarded with spectacular views of the surrounding town areas and countryside. A big lovely boulder hung off the edge of the cliff at the top of the hill, and the more cautious of the group simply watched with some horror as the braver Sisters stood very close to the edge on this rocky outcrop.


Fortunately, no cannibals were sighted, and we descended downhill for a drive through the charming Tynong-Garfield countryside.
























Well-refreshed and ready for the beginning of the last school term, we headed back to St Thomas Aquinas College under the patronage of Our Lady of the Rosary at the beginning of October. May God grant that we will bear in mind our mission to preach the truth and to guide our charges, like St Michael and his angels, away from the spiritual and moral pitfalls they might encounter.




Sunday, September 28, 2014

Snippets of August & September at Signadou


Feast of St. Dominic: Vigil

In honor of St. Dominic’s feast day, the girls’ school had their annual
St. Dominic’s Vigil festivities on August 3rd.  




The theme this year was "Black and White".



The night began with Vespers and Rosary in the church. After, the girls joined the sisters, as well as priests and brother for an evening of food and games - pinatas, scavenger races and more.  



The joyous night ended with Compline at the church.

Feast of St. Dominic

A painting of our Holy Father, done by a tertiary Dominican
On Monday, August 4th, the girls of St. Dominic’s College attended morning Mass together and had the rest of the day off school.  



After the Mass, a brunch was held for the benefactors and alumni of the school and the girls and their classmates helped out by serving coffee and tea to the guests. 


Annual Teachers vs. Students Netball Game

On the afternoon of August 4th, St. Dominic’s College had their annual Teachers vs. Students Netball game. 



After many weeks of practice, both teams did very well; however, the students came out ahead 19 - 14, and celebrated with the candy filled trophy and a victorious afternoon tea. 

Bike-a-thon


The annual fundraiser went well, with sisters and girls racing to see how many laps they could accumulate.  The first round of bikers went smoothly, though some girls, who had made all-time records for most laps (108!), were a bit wobbly after coming off of their bikes.  Then the second round began and about a quarter of the way through it, the rain began as well.  

It continued and some were concerned about how much longer the biking could go on before the track became too wet to safely pedal upon.  The atmosphere was a beautifully religious one, as the bikers in the rain made their rounds, they could hear various groups of girls and sisters on the 'sidelines' (who were counting laps) singing the Salve Regina.  (Dominican pupils are well versed in the tradition of singing three Salves to beg our Lady to take away the rain)  The rain did not intensify, so the second round of bikers were able to complete their hour without too much interference.  Below is an account from one of the pupils:

"On the 20th of August, I had the most tiring (but fun...) day of my whole life. It was my first time doing a bike-a-thon. Though I usually bike around my city back home, the bike-a-thon was different. There was a time limit of one hour only. I was terribly nervous so I decided to ride in the second round after watching the other people ride in the first round. After they had all finished, I hopped on my bike hoping that I would get many laps. Before the starting bell rang, I prayed that no accidents happened (unfortunately one girl fell off her bike, but she only bruised her knee). I pedaled as fast as I could but of course I needed enough energy to finish so I kept my pace carefully. At the 20 minute mark, it started to rain. My skirt was drenched and became heavy but I tried to keep my pace. The last ten minutes was the hardest as I began to get cramps in my arms and my legs were numb and sore. However, I prayed and gave all my energy; at last, the finish bell rang."

Netball Victory

On August 30th, both of St. Dominic’s netball teams played in the finals. 
The games were very close and very intense, going back and forth between the teams - each scoring goals continuously. 




However, Deo Gratias, both the A and B teams were victorious in their levels:
Final Scores
A-team: 26-24
B-team: 16-14




The Merchant of Venice

The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath...”



On September 24th, the Form 3 and 4 girls performed The Merchant of Venice. 

The Merchant of Venice focuses on Christian womanhood.
The play's conclusion is a beautiful vision of the ordered balance between individual happiness  and the good of society.


In one of the themes of the play, Christian womanhood, Shakespeare presents Portia, one of the loveliest women whom he created.  Portia represents womanhood at its most exalted on account of her femininity, humility and quiet strength, reminiscent of the valiant woman of Proverbs.


The play finishes with God's order triumphant and with harmony reigning.  Antonio and Portia have reflected God's order and peace, and happiness has now come to them.

Eucharistic Crusaders

On Thursday, September 18th, the Crusaders participated in the Eucharistic Crusader day. Starting with Mass in the morning, the day included crafts, games, and songs with Father Bochkoltz, the chaplain, and sisters and helpers. 




The children then went to the Bason Reserve to play a huge game of scavenger hunt. After finishing, all the students returned to the church to say a rosary in front of the
Blessed Sacrament. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Our Adventurous Actions in August

August is always a special month to look forward to in any Dominican Calendar!  Not only do the words Arise, my love, my dove, my beautiful one, for winter will soon be over and the rain over and gone come to mind, but it also means celebrations of the most solemn kind for the Feast of Our Holy Father on August 4th. At this time, any true daughter of St Dominic will always be preparing days in advance, sometimes even weeks, for this most joyous day when not only the order, but the whole Church will celebrate the founding of the Order of Friars Preachers. 



Our preparations here in Tynong began with a little surprise. Never does it snow due to the temperate climate, even in Winter, but one late day in July we had a rather odd hail storm which left our surroundings looking like it was covered in a white blanket. For our Singaporean Sisters it was pure delight and we resolved then and there to try to fit in a day when we could take them to see and experience “real snow”. True is the saying that the most simple things in life give one much joy. What joy one experiences too when one gives up all earthly possessions and consequently all temporal cares in order to devote oneself entirely to obtaining heavenly treasures.




At last the Vigil came and First Solemn Vespers was chanted in the evening at the Church along with dedicated Dominican Tertiaries and devout faithful, with Rosary and Benediction following soon after. We were fortunate enough too to have Fr Marc Nely SSPX visiting at that time from Menzingen. Father naturally presided over Vespers and also celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass the next day. It was a lovely liturgical start to the Feast Day, since a Dominican is first and foremost a contemplative. The Sacrifice of the Mass is always the climax of our day and the Divine Office a preparation and continuation of that Sacrifice. Some authors have compared the Mass to the Sun and the Divine Office, to the sun’s rays, which spread far and wide the glory of the sun.  Our Holy Father St Dominic Himself, once a Canon Regular, would tend to the Sacred Liturgy with much devotion and He always made the Mass the Centre of His life to the point that witnesses would frequently see him celebrate Mass with tears in his eyes.

Consequently, In imitation of our Saintly Founder, we had a good holy start to the morning, and only then did we proceed to have a special breakfast with Father and a most jolly and recreative morning. We divided ourselves into four teams and competed in various games devised by our Creative Canonical Novices. I must say, the most amusing game we participated in involved working as a team to carry 4 eggs, one at a time, from one end of the room to the other with a tea towel – no touching eggs with hands allowed. It was very interesting to see how each group worked in order to accomplish the task at hand.  Needless to say we were eating quite a few eggs thereafter but having lots of fun nevertheless.




Just after noon we partook of a splendid meal prepared by a lovely Cook in the Parish by the name of Mrs Lisa Braaksma. It was very very difficult not to tuck in enthusiastically since we had to be mindful of our traditional SISTERS vs STUDENTS netball game at 2pm. And what a game! Neck to neck all the way until the last quarter, when the final whistle brought the game to an end and a victory for both teams, since the scored turned out to be 17-17. Might I add the point that each quarter saw a whole new team of fresh and youthful girls play, while their opponents, the gracefully aging Sisters, plodded on playing a full 40 minute game.




The presentation of the Cup was followed by an afternoon tea for Benefactors, Tertiaries, Friends and Faithful as well as Past Dominican Pupils and the enjoyable day ended with the Divine Office – II Vespers, Matins and Compline.



On the Feasts of the Assumption and Ascension, we usually try to ASSUME or ASCEND something, so on August 15th, off we went to Mt Baw Baw to give our Equatorial Sisters a chance to experience what it is like in real snow. This gave us a day filled with such wonderful memories that we sang all the way home.



Soon after, our Sister Mary Anna, accompanied the St Thomas Aquinas College School Choir to an Eisteddfod.  And for those wondering what this peculiar word is all about, it is an annual festival, with competitions in stage, speech, dance and music. The girls performed beautifully and the adjudicator mentioned that as a choir they had a rare sweet quality of voice. They proudly walked away at the end of the night with a 1st and 3rd place, two lots of prize money and a rather prominent trophy.

Now Spring is here, the flowers are in bloom, the brightly coloured parrots fly to and fro, the sun is shining, the kangaroos are hopping about once again and one feels like leaping over the hills singing the praises of God. Again do the beautiful words of the Canticle of Canticles come to mind: The flowers have appeared in our land, the time of pruning is come; the voice of the turtle dove is heard; Arise, my love, my beautiful one and come……I have found Him whom my soul loveth.



Monday, August 18, 2014

St Dominic's College ~ a look behind the scenes...


Communication between parents and the school is always important, and the Sisters used the recent parent teacher interviews as an opportunity to both outline the Catholic ethos that guide their work and to give parents a glimpse into the school environment into which they entrust their children.  We thought you may enjoy a "look behind the scenes" as well. 

First some Catholic principles 

"Education is essentially a social and not a mere individual activity".  
 Pope Pius XI, Divini Illius Magistri / On Christian Education 


The Sisters made reference to the Encyclical on Catholic Education by Pope Pius XI to stress the necessary importance of co-operation which should exist between home and school. The sisters expressed their gratitude to the parents who share and support their goal of forming good Catholics, true subjects of Christ the King.  

Our thanks to parents who support the school and school activities as well as parishioners who show an interest and participate in our endeavours.

“Whatever a Christian does, even in the order of things of earth, he may not overlook the supernatural; indeed he must according to the teaching of Christian wisdom, direct all things towards the supreme good as to his last end…….;”   St Pius X

Hence, the importance of a Catholic environment, - assembly with prayers; beginning and concluding lessons with prayers; having the crucifix and images of the Saints and Our Lady in the classrooms; offering our duties and activities to God. 

Weekly assembly (above) and School Mass (below)
“. . . without proper religious and moral instruction, every form of intellectual culture will be injurious - for young people not accustomed to respect God, will be unable to bear the restraint of a virtuous life…….” 
Leo  13th

Equally important then is Catholic doctrine and learning the true faith before all else. 



Examples of class activities in Catholic Doctrine:



Senior classes refuting the errors of evolution...
















Junior classes appreciating their faith by looking into missionary activities and the importance of promoting the Catholic faith....  

... fostering love for Our lady as an inspiration for true art and finding examples within a New Zealand context.....

... and increasing their knowledge and love of the Sacred Liturgy.


In particular, the focus of the girls’ school is beauty of the soul, which shines over the body by modesty. That sense of interior beauty is essential, since it gives the Catholic woman the only true beauty which does not fade away. The supernatural life shines through and manifests itself in an atmosphere of honesty, joy and trust.  


One of our pupils received a top achiever award for attaining the highest mark for IGCSE Latin within New Zealand.


Students who received medals in the recent US Latin Examinations  
Academic ties for those achieving an A grade average and with no subject below a B grade.

In selecting subjects for the senior girls we strive for a balance between mastering on the one hand, a good level of depth, and on the other hand, a wide range of topics, for a two-fold purpose:
Firstly -  To ensure as potential mothers, natural and supernatural, they have the necessary abilities to ensure the running of a good catholic home and assist the children with their education.
Secondly - To allow them the entry requirements to university if that be the path God wishes them to choose.

Whatever their future, a good and balanced education will give them a sound understanding of both natural and supernatural truths. This is so that they realise that all truth comes from God and no truth they learn in the world can contradict the truths of the faith.  

Photos from our inter-house competitions and activities – looking at both academic and social aspects:  






Photos from the debating competition for the senior girls and public speaking for the junior 
girls on the feast of St Thomas Aquinas.  The adjudicator seems more interested in eyeing the choc-chip biscuits .  


The college also continues the Home Economics course, where the girls do both cooking and sewing programmes; house competitions are aligned with this aspect – the cooking competition during April feast of St Catherine of Sienna – you can see the joy on the faces of the pupils, their happiness and “hungry looks”.















The day of recollection also promoting and focusing particular on the role of women in Catholic society and motherhood.




One subject which has recently received some development in both the boys’ and girls’ schools is music. Since the days of St Mark, who founded the Catechetical school of Alexandria, with the Gospels, the Apostles’ Creed, and Ecclesiastical Chant as his curriculum, music has been one of the basic subjects in Catholic education. In making music an academic subject in the girls’ school, we are not intending to overburden the pupils but simply to focus their and your attention, more seriously on something, which has always been part of the education offered in the parish.

Our parish has always been blessed to have priests who were devoted to the Sacred Liturgy and instructed the faithful, adults and children, to a like devotion. By formalising the music programme, we hope to continue the parish tradition of participating intelligently and devotedly at what the Dominican Mother Francis Raphael calls, “the solemn and thorough celebration of those sacred offices which, in themselves, comprise a body of unequaled religious instruction.”


Besides continuing from previous years, lessons in music appreciation, which introduces the girls to good music, which they can sing, play or listen to for recreation, we have introduced a new programme, the Ward Method, for teaching sight-singing of both Gregorian and Modern notation.


The hope is that this will gradually make it easier to learn new pieces in the part of the Chant lesson which is devoted to learning new polyphonic and Gregorian pieces for use at Mass.


Pupils are encouraged to use their God given talents to represent the school and themselves in other activities outside the school arena.  "Jam it down" represented the College in a music competition.  


This year the school blazer has been introduced for senior pupils, and worn by pupils when representing the school.


Other activities for this first part of the year included:
 The Impromptu drama competition earlier this month which looked at the life of Mother Aubert –  on whom the theme of the school camp due to take place later this year is based.



        The school have 2 netball teams entered into the Secondary schools competition
          – Our thanks to Mr Foster and Mrs Tangira for coaching.




We conclude by thanking all our families, friends and benefactors for their support and hope to report back soon on our St Dominic's Day celebrations and annual Teachers vs Students  netball game, the spelling bee competition and bike-a-thon fundraiser - all of which is taking place before the end of August which also means the start of term break, and a period of well deserved rest to both pupils and teachers.