Early Thursday morning we set off for Milton on our way to Invercargill. This was a most wonderful spot and was well worth the time we spent there. We met an ex-pupil who is currently the secretary for the Principal. Both were delighted to see us and it was wonderful to see that they were trying to keep their Dominican heritage. There were pictures of St Dominic up, as well as old pictures of the founding Sisters in the front foyer. We were shown the old church which was used by the Sisters as a church/school and included some old furnishings, as well as the new Church, which was dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. Our guide gave us great delight as all the stories from the past came back to her. She showed us the side chancel were the Sisters used to hear Mass, the old confessional, the old convent and gave us many insights into life as a pupil at that time. Apparently when working the Sisters used to hoist their habits up and tuck them into their belts to keep them from getting dirty and when Mother General came on visitation all the students would line up to give her posies and for their efforts would get a day off the next day. All students were amazed at the hard work done by the small communities of Sisters, some of whom were only teenagers at the time – they taught, they prayed, they tended the garden, they cleaned, they cooked, they organised fundraisers. The Principal then asked us to visit the school so we made our way from classroom to classroom, giving small talks, answering questions and singing songs. We were most impressed with the children who were very polite, well behaved and well receptive to us.
Next it was on to Invercargill where we first paid a visit to Calvary Hospital to visit two Dominican Sisters still in habit – Sr Eugene O.P. and Sr Gertrude O.P. A pleasant time was spent there singing songs and catching up on news and then it was on to St Catherine’s Convent which unfortunately had been turned into a student hostel. There were also two other Convents in Invercargill - St Albert’s and St Bertrand’s but sadly they no longer exist. Next it was on to Bluff where we paid a visit to St Mary Star of the Sea and had a little adventure of our own. Owing to a lack of time and our need to be back in Dunedin for evening Mass, we leisurely made a u-turn on a grassy patch of field and unfortunately, forgetful of the added weight, the result was we found ourselves stuck in the mud. To cut a long story short, a guardian angel came in the form of a farmer driving a tractor, providentially with a big chain, and we were rescued from our plight. We venture to say we left our mark on Bluff.