Thursday, December 27, 2007


The Sisters with Father Laisney and Father Couture

From 15-22 December the Dominican Sisters of Wanganui are making their retreat. The Retreat-giver is Father Couture, the District Superior. He is preaching about Our Lady with a strong Biblical and Thomistic background. Two priests are also sharing the Retreat.

The Sisters have also been able to move into their new Chapel and Refectory, which is a great relief from the crowded conditions we have lived in for the last year. It is great to have space to do things in the proper Dominican way, and the new rooms have enhanced the recollection of the Retreat. As well we have our own confessional now in the sacristy, and we have been able to have confessions quietly in the house, instead of attracting a crowd to the priest as happens if we go in the Church. It goes to show that all things come to those who wait.

Our new Chapel

We are not able to actually sleep in the newer part of the building yet as the consent process is not finished, nor are we able to use the community room or laundry (basement floor) as they are not finished yet. However, each little bit of progress is an encouragement and we enjoy each little bit of the building to which we get access.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Examination Results for the Nuns

These last few weeks have also been the time for receiving university exam results for the nuns. I am pleased to report that each Sister doing extramural study from Massey University has gained at least one “A” and one gained two “A’s”. As well, nobody gained anything less than a “B”. This is very good as the Sisters work under difficulties with their schoolwork to do and their attendance at the Divine Office and their private prayer.

Next year, several of the Sisters, and some lay-teachers, will be following the course for the Graduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching from Bethlehem Tertiary Institute. Because we can provide such a large group of students Bethlehem will conduct most of the lectures on our campus. This will be very convenient for our teachers who will do the course part-time over two years.

Blessing of School and New Convent

On Saturday 8 December we had a Solemn High Mass in the Church for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. This beautiful Mass was followed by the blessing of the school and convent.

After Mass, the Celebrant, Fr Couture, and the Deacon, Fr Cranshaw, and the Subdeacon, Fr Jackson, went in procession with the servers to the new Convent and School. After a prayer of blessing the Ministers went in procession, led by the Sisters, right through the building, sprinkling it with Holy Water.

After the blessing there were photographs and then the parishioners joined us for a morning-tea in the first classroom. A happy time was had by all.

End of the 2007 School Year

The 6th and 7th of December found us celebrating the end of the school year. S.M.Catherine and S.M.Madeleine worked hard producing the reports, Sister Mary Rose organized the Prizegiving ceremony, Sister Marie Therese organized the prizes with the help of S.M.Madeleine and the postulants also worked hard, Philomena helping with the Form 1 and 2 item and Antonia helping in the school but also overseeing the collection of textbooks and the ordering of new ones for the English Department. This combined effort by the community, with a shared overview of the needs of the school, reinforced our sense of community and our appreciation of each other’s efforts.

St. Anthony's Ensemble

The evening of the prizegiving was a pleasant, slightly cool evening, which was all to the good as we could have been very hot in the Methodist Hall in Wickstead Street. The Breakup started at 7pm with a welcome from Fr Laisney, the singing of the school hymn, “Hail St Dominic” and a brief sketch by Fr Laisney of the major events of the school year. Then followed a performance by the St Anthony’s Ensemble, a recently formed orchestra made up of the pupils of Mrs Antonia Gregory and other instrumentalists. They had not done well at the practice but found their form on the night. The audience loved them. There were little children playing quarter-size violins, S.M.Rose on the ‘cello with Elizabeth Smith also on the ‘cello. Philomena Ockerse, our postulant provided the brass section single-handed, playing on her tenor horn.

Form 6 - "White men aren't for eating"

A musical item followed, prepared by Mrs Adrienne Borberg, our pianist and singing teacher, who backs us up wonderfully in all musical aspects of school life. Being a Dominican Ex-pupil she is unable to refuse a firm request from a white habit! We mark them for life, you know. Other items included a French song by Form 5 and 6 with bell-ringing accompaniment and two dear little “lambs” borrowed for the occasion. Form Six put on a play, “White Men Aren’t for Eating”, and the entire Boys’ School gave a choral rendition of “The Hound of Heaven” by Francis Thompson.

Boys' School - "The Hound of Heaven"

We were much cheered and encouraged by a speech from Father D. Couture, the District Superior of the SSPX. He encouraged us to value what we have in Wanganui – a complete parish with schools, priests, and nuns. Father pointed out that we are the most complete parish in the Asian district.

Father D. Couture - District Superior

His speech was followed by the Valedictorian Speech given by Nicholas Kawana. Nicholas urged us to keep our Faith in Catholic Education which equips the young men and women leaving our school with the weapons they need to live a good Catholic life in the context of the modern world.

Nicholas Kawana - Valedictorian

The presentation of the prizes was a great success. The list was beautifully read by S.M.Madeleine and the children advanced to receive their prizes with a becoming combination of modesty and poise. The Dux of the school was Keith Benfell, who also won the Senior Catechism Prize. Some amusement was caused when French children received prizes for excellence in French, but fair is fair. The same children were also awarded prizes for diligence in English! The prizes had all been donated by friends of the school, who had also been given the privilege of naming their prize. This made the prizegiving highly interesting as the reading of the Prizelist was a roll-call of people who have helped Tradition. It was heart-stirring to hear names like, “The Father Augustine Cummins Prize for Catholic Doctrine”, “The Father Stan Lorrigan prize for First in Class”. We think it is good that these names be kept alive in our midst and passed on to a new generation of young Catholics. We are very grateful to the donors.

Mother M Micaela O.P

Finally, the children presented “thank you” gifts to teachers who have helped them in particular ways. Mr Halpin was given a bottle of wine and some chocolates for his part in coaching the Hockey team to winning their competition. “I don’t deserve it, but I’ll drink it”, was his comment. Also presented with thank you gifts were Mrs. Borberg (Music), and Madame Mathey (French), Miss Kurcikova (Netball), S.M.Madeleine (Netball), and Mrs. Julie Nyssen (Netball). There was a surprise presentation of flowers to Mother Micaela and chocolates to Fr Laisney. This was an initiative of the girls who acknowledged the work of the nuns and the priests by collecting money for these gifts from all, boys and girls. The evening ended with the spirited singing of “Hail to our Alma Mater” by those present.

On Friday 7 December, the last Mass of the School Year was celebrated for St Dominic’s College. Fr Couture was the celebrant and preacher. He spoke on the virtue of gratitude. The St Stephen’s Guild ceremony for the retirement of Nicholas Kawana as Head M.C. and the installation of Joseph Lavin in the position also took place at this Mass. After Mass reports were distributed and the Christmas holidays began!