Another early morning on Tuesday, we headed for Timaru where we visited the beautiful Sacred Heart Basilica and were lucky enough to find tables of books which were free for the taking. Our Sister Librarian quickly jumped into action and with a quick eye pounced on some good authors such as Garrigou-Lagrange, while leaving more modern ones in their places.
Next was a visit to Oamaru where we had the opportunity to visit what was once Rosary Convent and the beautiful marble church just next door. Now a rest-home, we were welcomed most generously by the Manager who kindly provided some refreshments for us. We toured around and from a plan in the foyer, managed to work out what each room would have been used for. Some Sisters practised gliding down the beautiful wooden staircases (one was reserved for the Sisters, while the other was for boarders) and others investigated all the nooks and crannies within the building while saying hello to the elderly residents at the same time. The Chapel was our greatest delight. Religious remnants were still there for viewing, including the marble altar and four choir stalls. We tested the acoustics and planned to sing a Salve Regina in every Dominican Church/Chapel for the Building of our Motherhouse, Rosary Convent and our own apostolate. The Chapel was being used as a library and to our glee there were many good books for sale including a lot of Dominican treasures. The Manager told us we could take what we wanted……so…..not one to hold back…we quickly leapt into action. Some Sisters stayed at the van to re-organise the luggage so as to fit as many books as we could, while others scanned the library with a fine-tooth comb. Book after book was carried to 'Sister Packer' and thankfully two guardian angels arrived in the form of two Mormons who helped to transport loads of books from the Chapel to Big Red as we nicknamed our vehicle.
A little later and a little heavier, we were on our way to Teschemakers, which was once upon a time a thriving Dominican Boarding school out in the country, approximately 15min from Oamaru. Ten minutes into our journey we were met with an obstacle – a flooded dip in the road which appeared to be quite deep. Thankfully, our self-sacrificing Padre leapt into action, and for years to come we will have the image embedded in our memories of Father leaping out of the van and wading through the cold water to make sure it was not too deep for the engine. Father safely on board again and presented with towels with which to dry his purpled feet, we arrived at our destination. The owner, Joy Murdoch, generously gave of her time to show us around, the building being now used as a wedding and conference centre. Although the rooms now looked very chic, we were able to again imagine what it must have been like back in the days when some students came to school by horse. What stories the walls could have told us. The kitchen was truly a sight with all utilities being ten times the usual size to cater for large groups. The Chapel of course was the cream of the cob, with Dominican Saints portrayed in stained-glassed windows, a tiered choir loft which was accessible from what must have been the infirmary and which is now a wedding suite and we gaped in admiration and longing at the beautiful white marble altar. The acoustics there were just magnificent and we all felt like bundling everything up and taking it back to Wanganui. If only! Needless to say, many a happy hour was spent here and we arrived late in Dunedin for an evening Mass and another delicious heart-warming meal provided by the Wansink family.