Wednesday, July 16, 2014

With an update of Rosary Convent long overdue, we scarcely know where to begin the news update; so we’ll start at the beginning.  After all, it is a very good place to start.

The first month of 2014 was a very momentous one for us, for on January 6th we had the happiness of witnessing the entrance of postulants, the veiling of four Novices and the Temporary Profession of two of our Sisters.

Miss Elizabeth Smith from Wanganui, NZ, entered in January, along with Miss Katie Corr from San Jose, California. The latter, due to visa restrictions, is at this present moment doing her postulancy in NZ and then God-willing, will resume her Canonical year in the Motherhouse. Soon to follow and enter the convent were Miss Genevieve Erbacher from Brisbane, Australia and Miss Mary Williams from St Mary’s, Kansas. We also have two visitors staying with us - Miss Allie Reis from Canada and pre-postulant Miss Gloria Silveira from St Mary’s, Kansas.

Postulants are always a laugh and a half. The following incident serves as a reminder to the older generation that we are living in a modern technological world.

Postulant: (Reading list of things to bring to the convent): Bible – check, Missal – Check, Alarm Clock – Hmmm – I don’t have an alarm clock.
Sister: Oh never fear, we can always purchase one for you when you arrive.
Postulant: Oh I almost forgot, don’t worry, I have one on my I-Phone
Sister: (long pause) Um, postulants are not allowed to have I-Phones
Postulant: Oh my!  Really!

Our four little Novices, Sisters Dolores, Amata, Francis and Imelda are half way through their canonical year. Their time has been devoted to the Corporal Works of Mercy within the community, namely, feeding the hungry, washing the clothes for those in need and cooking feast day cakes! A good portion of course is dedicated to the study of the Divine Office, the 3 Evangelical Vows, Dominican Spirituality, the Rule and Constitution, Latin, Music, the Summa and Prayer. United with the Holy Family in their Hidden life, our little Novices are learning to lead a life of Holy Obedience, hoping of course to grow in wisdom and grace in their most important year of Spiritual Formation which will set the foundation for the rest of their religious life.


Our four dynamic Second Year Novices, Sisters Anna, Columba, Jordan and Bernard, have plunged into the apostolate with angelic zeal, ever mindful of the Dominican spirit: Contemplare et contemplata allis tradere. Sisters Anna and Columba have been busy completing a Post Graduate Teaching Diploma as well as teaching Catechism at St Thomas Aquinas College while Sisters Jordan and Bernard have been completing a Bachelor of Arts through Tabor College, juggling religious life and school classes too! They have also been a great asset this year, fulfilling the offices of Infirmarian, Chantress, Vestiarian, Sacristan and Assistant Fundraiser. Only just recently, on a trip to complete an IELTS English Test for Teacher Registration, one of the Novices was approached by a lady interested in the Catholic Faith. We are very pleased to announce that she now wishes to become a Catechumen and is preparing herself for the Sacrament of Baptism. A young girl, who recently took up the offer of tutoring from one of the Sisters, is now preparing for three Sacraments within the next few months: Confession, Communion and Confirmation. Please pray for these two souls, as well as for the Sisters just mentioned, who are at this moment studying the Vow of Obedience, preparing for the day when they will solemnly and publicly give themselves wholly and entirely to God by way of the three Evangelical Counsels. A Sacrifice, which after the Holy Mass and martyrdom, cannot be equalled in this life (Fr Louis Colin C.S.S.R.)

While we are on the topic of upcoming events, I may as well add now that we will have the happiness of attending a retreat in January conducted by two Dominican Friars from Belgium who will then go on to give the Priests Retreat in Goulburn after our 2015 ceremonies on January 18th. We are very much looking forward to Dominican Rite Masses again and seeing our Sisters from NZ who will join us, as well as our Dominican male counterparts.

Our two Professed Sisters, Srs Johanna and Thomas, were not long together after their Temporary Profession on January 6th. Sr Johanna, now O.P., was assigned to NZ to teach Maths, look after the bursar work and study, while Sr Thomas O.P. was assigned to remain at the Motherhouse house to continue her study in the Post Graduate Teaching Programme and teach at St Thomas Aquinas College.

As for the Building of the Motherhouse, this has become a number one necessity of late. With more ladies and a Sister on the way this year, and at least 3 Postulants booked in for next year, we have absolutely no room. It has become imperative therefore that we build at least half of our Motherhouse by January 2015. At present we have 16 living in a house which includes Sisters outside in cabins, one in a walk-in-wardrobe, some sharing rooms etc. This is what it looks like in the morning when we all zone in for breakfast. As you can see, it is far from ideal for a house of religious formation.

Thankfully, a kind parishioner donated a caravan and a spare vehicle which have proved very very handy indeed, although we do have a very funny tale to add here. New to the prospect of Caravens on our property, what was our utter astonishment one morning, when after carefully preparing it for a visitor, we found on going to Chapel the next morning that the Caraven had tilted. The occupant had turned over in the night and the Caraven, not fastened to the ground, had moved with her like a see-saw. What we saw in the morning was a hilariously funny sight, one end on the ground and one end high in the air: we wondered how the poor inhabitant had survived. She had; for during meditation we heard a huge thud. She had awoken, moved, and with her came the Caraven. She came in for Mass as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Needless to say, the Caraven is now secured firmly to the ground.

Since the beginning of the year, we have been busy trying to fundraise the necessary 1.5 million for at least half of the Motherhouse plan to be completed. In the first school term a Bike-a-thon was organised which raised over $90,000.

In the second term we organised a Jewellery and Alms Fundraiser which raised over $30,000. For the remainder of the year, Fr Fullerton suggested a “Sponsor-a-Room” Fundraiser which we have now launched and have been promoting these last few weeks. What we have done is divided the whole plan into sizable portions so benefactors can then “sponsor” a whole room ie: cell, office, parlour or part of a room ie: kitchen, library, lecture room etc. Slots range in price and the benefactor has the opportunity of having their name on a plaque in our convent so that they will always be remembered by the Sisters. The idea behind this fundraiser is that many little contributions add up and if all do their little bit, our Motherhouse would be a reality (hint, hint).  Almsgiving too is always rewarded abundantly by God (hint, hint, hint) AND covereth a multitude of sins (hint, hint, hint, hint). Here is a link to our Australian Brochure and Australian Sponsor-a-Room Form. For the U.S, N.Z, Singapore and other countries, please e-mail Mother Mary Rose [] for more information.  You will certainly not regret this investment.
So far, diggers have been in to clear the way for the foundations. Preliminaries with a Fabrication Company are underway and we could be building within a few months.  We therefore humbly ask for the following:

1) Your prayers
2) Your sacrifices
3) Your alms

This is so that that we may continue our work of religious formation and Catholic Education. Once our Motherhouse and Teacher Training Institute have been established, many more foundations can be made.

We will pray much over the next few months, and ask that you do too. This one is always useful.

O Lord grant us priests
O Lord grant us Holy Priests
O Lord grant us many Holy Priests
O Lord grant us many Holy Religious Vocations
A Motherhouse for the Dominican Sisters at Tynong, by January 2015

Thursday, June 26, 2014

May and June Events at Signadou Boarding School

Feast of the Ascension

On May 29th, for the Feast of the Ascension, two sisters took the girls to the Whanganui Regional Museum where they learned about manu aute (Maori kite) which is made from tapa - a hand-made bark-cloth. They then were able to make there own tapa-inspired manu aute. 

Our Lady of Lourdes Pilgrimage

“On May 24th, we had a wonderful opportunity of taking part in an Our Lady of Lourdes pilgrimage, which gave us a good exercise of 20km walk. We had to drive approximately two hours from Wanganui. We then started at Peka Peka Beach and ended at Paraparaumu. This year’s intention for the pilgrimage was for the Rosary Crusade. It was very windy, and it rained almost the whole of the pilgrimage. (What a great penance!) We had around 3-4 breaks during the pilgrimage and had to have an enduring voice throughout as we sang and said three rosaries and hymns. When we reached the statue of Our Lady, it was raining cats and dogs. No pain - no gain. Regardless, it was a great experience.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.

- Signadou Boarder

St. Anthony Procession

“On the 1st of June, we had the opportunity to participate in a procession in honour of St. Anthony. There were many people that participated. There was the girls’ school - St. Dominic’s College, the boys’ school - St. Augustine’s Campus, and St. Anthony’s primary school, and the faithful. We walked around the streets of Gonville, singing joyful songs and saying joyful prayers. At the end of the procession, we had a big group photo including St. Anthony.  (He must be happy.)

We were all proud to be part of the procession.
St. Anthony, pray for us.

- Signadou Boarder

Candle Making

On June 16th - the solemnity of St Anthony (patron of our parish) and a holiday from school - the boarders were taught by a local parishioner about candle making and each of them created their own candle scented with coconut and lime. They then were able to uniquely design them with flower petals.  

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Camp Kateri Tekakwitha

“Dear Future Missionary            

You have been called to join the Blackrobe and his white-robed assistants at the Kateri Mission where the North American Wilderness blends with the New Zealand landscape.  It is the year of our Lord 1635 and barbarism still reigns…. "

This invitation to the campers in the flyer for New Zealand’s Camp Kateri Tekakwitha was but the introduction to the life in the wilderness of the American Missionaries into which the camp endeavoured to plunge girls for seven days.

The girls were to set out upon a grand adventure, covering nearly the length of the North Island -1,782 kilometres traveled to be exact - though this is not counting the numerous times the campers got lost and the ever increasing number of U-turns

The Actual Locations For Our Camp

The Camp’s Mission Statement:

"To help our girls and young women to develop steadfastness of faith 
and purity of life with missionary zeal to extend the Kingdom of Christ."

In order to do this, the camp took as its three-fold patrons St Kateri Tekakwitha, Father de Smet, and the eight Jesuit proto-martyrs of North America.  Based upon the lives of these heroic models, the camp determined to give the girls a taste of what life would have been like in the 17th - 19th centuries, where the American Indians were still being converted by courageous souls. Of course, Our Lady was not left out, and since two of her feasts fell during the camp, it was providential that Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe would be the object of camps' two-fold Marian  devotion.

“…In teaching them (the Indians), remember that we have two powerful weapons.  One is God’s grace.  The other is the example we set. We can teach the Indians kindness only by being kind. We can teach them goodness only by being good ourselves. We can teach them love only by loving them…”  - St John Br├ębeuf

The campers were divided into four tribes, all of which had connection with the camp patrons - the Hurons, the Mohawks, the Algonquins and the Flatheads.  (Father and Sisters did not ‘join’ any one tribe, but rather worked with all four equally.) The tribes worked together, under their generous 'squaw' helpers, to gain competitive points on a variety of levels throughout the camp.  Additionally, at the end of the camp, each of the campers received a certificate awarding them "Most ______ Indian Maiden" with a descriptive adjective based upon their spirits and involvement during the camp.

The Four Tribes: Mohawks, Algonquins, Flatheads and Hurons
The campers learned American Indian sign language in their respective ‘ships’ (sailing as the true missionaries would have across the ocean - except for our missionaries, the ships were vans travelling across the NZ landscape…).  The first stop was a horse trek through the wilderness - something that really got the campers into the feel of the theme of the camp.  Each girl rode her own horse up and down steep inclines and through the backwoods.  

Various Camp Adventures

Once the weary campers arrived the first night in Auckland, they were given the once-in-a-lifetime chance to spend the night camping out in the soon to be parish Church.  It was not yet in use and so provided a dry place for the missionaries to sleep.  On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the missionaries/Indian tribes trekked to the top of the Island in search of the resting place of Bishop Pompallier.  He was a French missionary to NZ and was NZ’s first bishop.  

After a long drive and many U-turns, the girls finally reached their destination and were greatly rewarded with being able to pray before the holy Bishop’s remains as well as touch their rosaries to his coffin. His remains are brought out for veneration only four times a year and we were blessed to be able to visit on one of these days. (Unfortunately, pictures were not allowed of girls in front of the Bishop’s remains, but we took one outside instead.)

Tribes working on their Indian crafts, a photo of statues of the camp's patrons
and a view of a once-in-a-lifetime overnight stay in a church.

After trekking through the Northern wilderness, with an overnight stop at a charitable parishioner’s house, the camp finally made its way to the official campsite in Thames in the scenic Coromandal region.  Large tents were erected for each tribe and the campers were ready with a smile to brave the elements.

Scenes from the campsite, including the makeshift chapel and dining hall.


An Unforgettable Hike

The next day was the ‘big hike’ day.  The Pinnacles is a famous hike in the North Island and was well worth the toil and sweat to reach the top.  As the New Zealand Tramper aptly remarks: “ The Pinnacles Track follows the old pack horse trails… over the river and up the valley to the Pinnacles hut… The track was used in the good old days to bring supplies up to the millers and tree fellers, who cleared out hundreds of acres of kauri trees in the valleys. In the late 1990’s, the track (which had become a bit scungy) was upgraded, and rebuilt, close to what it looked like at the start of the century. The result is spectacular . . .  stone steps {big enough for giants’ legs}, wide enough for packhorses, dominate most of the track, crossing the river three times as it rises steeply to logging camp at the ‘near’ top. I warn you now – the stone stairs are great to look at but hard on the legs… From the first swing-bridge, the stone stairs come into play – it will take 1–1½ hrs to leave them and get to the logging camp. It's not all stairs, but they are what you’ll remember most…. Once at the hut {at the top}, you can leave your pack and climb the Pinnacles proper.

"Forward March!" - Blackrobe                                         Some Relaxing moments on the way up the mountain

Whilst not dangerous, it isn’t for the faint hearted. It’ll only take 45 minutes to get to the top, but you go up some steep rock faces, and several ladders before negotiating a large boulder, to get to the narrow ledge at the top. From the top, you can see both sides of the Coromandel – Tairua / Pauanui on one side, The firth of Thames and Hauraki Plains on the other. The view is breathtaking…”
All the campers made it to the hut (some quicker than others), most continued on to the top of the Pinnacles and were well rewarded with the spectacular views.  The long hike up and then down again, through all sorts of terrain, gave the girls a good idea what it would have been like for the missionaries in the untamed American wilderness.  Indeed, all agreed that this was not a ‘boring’ hike. 

Back at the campsite, the next day signaled the start of activities closer to home.

Archery and target shooting reminded the girls about the ‘Wild West’ and kayaking and canoeing gave them a true taste of what travelling would have been like for the early missionaries navigating down the St Lawrence River in Canada. It was made even more like North America when the girls had to climb out of their kayaks and drag them along at different stretches of shallow water in the river, making them reminisce about the missionaries having to carry or drag their boats for miles on end in between long sessions of boating down the river. Our girls, at least, did not have to worry about enemy tribes ambushing them from the surrounding forests.

 Campfires, swimming, orienteering, Native American songs and crafts were but a part of the camp routine.  Somehow, go-carts were allowed into the theme one day and so the tribes took turns seeing who could race around the track the fastest.  Our Black Robe sped around with the fastest record, which all the girls then attempted to match or outdo.

Each morning was begun with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, where Father preached a sermon upon the virtue or patron of the day.  After being spiritually refreshed, the campers ate their breakfasts and headed quickly down to the camp headquarters, the uniquely-made tepee, for the daily PowWow.  Here it was that they learned more about the missionaries and Indians from the talks given by their very own Blackrobe and from these talks were given the theme of the day.  Each day was assigned its own theme, its own missionary quote and its own virtue to be practiced. Each evening, for the last talk of the day, the campers all assembled in their home-made Native American costumes, which made the theme of the camp feel all the more real.

The last full day of camp was one loaded with adventure.  The packed-lunch was much desired after the campers made their way across beach, rocks, rocks (and boulders, and more rocks…), forestry trails, until they finally came to New Chums Beach (voted one of the top ten beaches in the world). 

They could not tarry long, though, as boats were especially booked for the afternoon.  The girls gleefully held on tight to their boats as they traversed a water-tour of Mercury Bay, Cathedral Cove (made famous through one of the Narnia movies), Cooks Beach, Shakespeare Cliff, Orua Sea Cave, and the stunning marine reserve in Gemstone Bay.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

 The water was crystal clear, and in the Gemstone Bay, it did actually glitter like gems in the sunlight with a brilliant hue. The fish swam all around as the girls were given a chance to snorkel around the boats.  This was a magnificent way to wind up the camp…. But to the girls’ delight, it was not over yet!  

After quite an exhausting day, they returned back to the camp for a relaxing dinner and then prepared themselves for 'late-night' which always closes our camps.  After the sun had set, the girls went through an 'obstacle' course in the bush, blindfolded, which tested their endurance and courage; this was followed with our Blackrobe good-naturedly joining in to play 'spotlight'.

The next morning the camp had to be packed up and tribes prepare for the long trek home.  Even this was not without its adventures.  While on the road, one of the tribes composed a song which we include below.

We Three Vans (to the air of “We Three Kings”)


We three vans from Wanganui
Travelling north as missionaries
Over rivers, through the tunnels
Following the Blackrobe

Indian maidens that we are
Saving souls from near and far
Northward driving, horseback riding
Bringing the light of faith

Many trials we had to bear
Climbing mountains, sailing through bays
Chainsaws here and ghosts that scare
Challenging our resolve


Daughters of the forest free
Getting lost wherever we be
U turns here and u turns there
Following google maps


Mohawks kind, Algonquins sweet
Flatheads, Hurons dare to meet
2013’s Camp Kateri
Never will we forget


We have reached the end of the road
Some will have much further to go
Over oceans, through the air
To more distant lands

Camp Kateri Tekakwitha ended as it began, with joyful hearts and good spirits.
Singing rang through the evening air as the vans approached Wanganui at last.  

"Who can tell me what is most pleasing to Jesus that I may do it." - St Kateri Tekakwitha

Friday, February 14, 2014

Australian Wildlife

Welcome to Holy Rosary Convent, Australia

If you look carefully to your right, you shouldn't miss our backyard friends who often come at the time of Compline to graze on grass, have a little nap or stand upright with a placid stare, listening to us chant the Divine Office. Known throughout Australia as the Kangaroo, this marsupial comes in a variety of size, shape and species.

Here are a few species coming up now.
If you look to your left, you might be lucky to see some of the many vividly coloured birds that live in our native forest.

If you are very special, you might be able to see our cute koalas who roam about looking for leaves to eat when they are not napping in a tree.

Oh, what are the odds! If you look straight ahead, there is Fr MacPherson, SSPX. It seems he has found a furry friend.

We leave you now with a glimpse of some of our not so nice creatures. But don't let this put you off, they are easily disposed of - as Sister Mary Jordan demonstrates.

Photos kindly supplied by Sister Mary Francis