Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Life in the Novitiate in 2010

This year we have five novices and five professed Sisters in the Community. It looks very neat in Church, one row of Novices in front and one row of Professed Sisters behind. (However, there is room for more novices, so don’t hang back for fear of spoiling the symmetry). The Professed Sisters are pursuing worthy careers as school teachers, school administrators, P.E. instructors, Music teachers, and so on. But it is not of them we will speak today. Today I wish to speak of the Novitiate.

Mother Micaela is the novice-mistress. She thinks she might be a bit old for the job and will eventually train up some vibrant young nun to take over. The personnel of the novitiate can be divided as follows:
First, Sister Margaret, finished her canonical novitiate and now teaching Latin and Maths in the Secondary School as well as advancing in her studies towards a B.A. Second, Sister Marie Dominique; her canonical year of novitiate finishes at the end of April and she will then be able to teach a little in the school and possibly study towards adding New Zealand credits to her American degree. This depends on her getting New Zealand residency and the FBI is holding this up at the moment. These Sisters do some classes with the novices and their own class on Scripture.

Then there is a threesome, Sister Mary Raymond, Sister Maria Lucia and Sister Mary Jacinta. They are just at the beginning of their canonical year. They study the Rule and Constitutions, the Spiritual Life, and the Catechism of the Vows. They also help to run the house by cooking on weekdays, doing the laundry and doing the Sacristy. Their contribution to the house is really valuable.

The Novices all go to the Adult Catechism in the parish. As well they share in the classes all the Sisters have on The Summa, Philosophy, and Spirituality.

The Novitiate is a happy place where the Sisters have before them a life of prayer and pleasing God. Our present group seems to be a really good one. We ask your prayers that they may persevere and that more companions may be added to their number.

The Builderines

We have had a lot to do with builders over the last two and a half years, and it would be fair to say, with certain honourable exceptions, that a certain amount of disillusionment has set in. This has led Sister Mary Rose and Sister Mary Margaret to formulate the idea of another order under our wing, called “The Builderines”. The two Sisters mentioned have proved themselves on flat-pack wardrobes and desks and they recently took on their most ambitious project to date, a flat-pack shed. The shed to be used, when assembled, to store the school mops, buckets, and cleaning materials.

It was wonderful to see the two Sisters reading the instructions, boring holes in the tin with our very own drill and getting the shed upright. They did it all alone except when two builders happened-by just as the Sisters had to go to Vespers and the men put the roof on.

Then the shed had to be moved to its final spot from being built in the middle of our front lawn. Several Sisters got inside and supported the roof with their hands and walked. It was a wonderful sight to see the shed making its own way across the front lawn with one Sister popping out every so often to see what it looked like and to report on their direction. After the shed was in place the floor was put down. But even then the shed was not safe. We had an enormous storm with 120km wind which threatened to blow the shed away. “We’ve got to save the shed” was the cry that echoed through the convent, and the Sisters ran out with a bag of dolomite and 25kgs of sheep pellets from the garden supplies. These just held the shed although it rocked back and forth to an alarming extent.

Now that the shed is finished one of our kindly teachers, Mr Hays, is putting shelves in it. But the whole experience has been a triumph for the Builderines.

The School Swimming Sports

On Monday 8 March 2010 the whole school and convent travelled in vans and cars to the Wanganui Girls’ College swimming pool. The junior school, i.e. Forms 1-4 had been having swimming lessons there the whole term. Girls’ College having lent the pool for free, the parents had to pay only for the swimming instructress. It was great having the very pleasant and clean pool available with no-one else using it at the same time. A very nice woman from the St Anthony’s Parish, Jane Norton-Taylor, assisted Sister Rose with supervision, Jane being in the water and able to help girls who did not immediately grasp the instructions. For the sake of modesty the girls wore board shorts and either T shirts or rash vests.

The 8 March being the feast of St Thomas Aquinas, we decided to have swimming sports to celebrate. After a light lunch our cavalcade set off and found parking places over at girls’ college. Races took place in almost all disciplines including diving and underwater swimming. What was particularly striking was the progress made by the younger girls. Some of them could hardly swim at the beginning of the series of lessons and now they could swim the length of the pool in quite a respectable fashion. Sister Margaret manned the desk and recorded the winners’ points. We were very lucky in the weather on 8 March, a lovely sunny day with little wind. Indeed we have been blessed on every swimming day throughout the term with sunny nice weather. S.M. Rose hopes to keep going until Holy Week – will she make it?