Monday, December 17, 2012

A thrilling finish to the year--and to our first decade

Speaking at the Saint Dominic's College prize-giving ceremony, Sister Madeleine compared this year to a particularly thrilling chapter in the sort of book one simply can’t put down at bedtime, but must keep reading far into the night, with a torch under the blankets if necessary. While the chapter (or, as Mother Micaela later said, the song) has come to a close or a cadence with the beginning of the summer holidays, the closing lines were full of motion and excitement, for the last week of school was a busy time for the community in Wanganui. 
"The song is ended, but the melody lingers on..." Mother Micaela speaks at our tenth anniversary celebration.
Since examinations had been held the week before, it included little academic work, but students and teachers were kept busy with many preparations for the end of the year. Besides music practices for the final school Mass and for the tenth anniversary Mass on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, there was a thorough clean-up day which left the school looking like a rain-washed field and at least one Sister looking as if she had been through World War III (no pictures, sorry). On Monday morning, teachers went over final exams with their classes, and in the afternoon everyone took a little well-earned recreation with games organised by the senior girls. The cleaning day was on Tuesday, and involved expeditions to clean home economics facilities in the croquet club down the street as well as the new house next door—so it was as well we had had the games on Monday; no one would have had the energy to run after Tuesday’s work!
Wednesday was a free day for the students, but not for the teachers, most of whom were busily writing or proofreading report comments or preparing certificates and other paraphernalia for Thursday. Thursday morning was occupied by a practice at the War Memorial Hall for the secondary school prize giving, and that evening teachers, students, parents and friends returned there for the ceremony, which showed the fruits of a year’s hard work by students and teachers. As well as academic prizes, which are awarded for excellence or diligence in at least three academic subjects, there were various sports awards and character awards to be presented, and the Cambridge certificates from last year, as this year’s will not arrive until January. Two boys and three girls finished Form 7 this year, and their representatives, the two valedictorians, expressed their love and gratitude to the school and all who have contributed to their education.

At Matins of St Ambrose on Thursday evening, the Sisters had discovered that the text of Duo Seraphim, which would be sung at the final school Mass on Friday, came from that day’s first lesson, from Isaias the prophet. The next day there was great excitement in the choir loft as a Sister passed around a Benedictine breviary from the cupboard (fortunately the Dominicans were on the same page as the Benedictines that day) to share this discovery with the girls! Unfortunately, after all that, our rendition of the piece was far from perfect, but we hope that Our Lord took into account that we had indeed practiced, though it sounded as if we hadn’t, and was pleased all the same.

To round off this exciting week, we celebrated our congregation’s tenth anniversary on Saturday, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The festivities began with a solemn Mass in the church, after which priests, religious and parishoners processed to Signadou, the new house at 16 York Street, which was then blessed by Father Cranshaw. In her speech at Friday’s prize-giving, Sister Madeleine had referred to the fax from Bishop Fellay that was our Signadou--our sign from God to found a new convent, as St Dominic’s had been a ball of fire over the village of Prouille. In her anniversary speech on the steps of Signadou after it had been blessed, Mother Micaela told the story of how this fax arrived on the 8 December 2002. It was relayed by Father Delsorte, who came running across from the priory in person, waving the fax in his hand. Punctuating the more serious matter with wit and humour, Mother Micaela went on to summarise the growth and achievements of the congregation over these ten years, and ended with a hope that, though the song of this decade is ended, the melody may linger on-- “and may that melody always be: Salve Regina.

The Priests and Brothers presented the Sisters with a beautiful Belgian chasuble, ornamented with a painting of Saint Dominic.

After the brunch, to which all the parishoners had been invited, Mother Rose and Sister Madeleine were driven to the airport, whence they would fly to Auckland for the first Children of Mary ceremony there and thence to the USA, where they are currently learning about the administration of boarding schools and also doing some teaching and recruitment.

We look forward to hearing of their adventures as we drive to Auckland and then fly to Australia for our retreat and the reception of four new novices on the Feast of the Epiphany. As you can see, while the song—or chapter—of 2012 in the Dominican tale is nearly ended, the melody—or the book—gives promise of new themes and an equally exciting plot for 2013.

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