Sunday, September 15, 2013

Pilgrimage to the South Island: Day Three: Lawrence, Cromwell and Queenstown

Wednesday it was off to visit the Convent and School in Queenstown. On the way we stopped at Lawrence to visit St Patrick's Church and the Dominican convent which was situated just behind it. Now a private residence we were unable to explore quite as thoroughly as the previous day but we were able to explore the Church. Next stop was Cromwell to visit the Church of the Irish Martyrs which included a glorious drive along the beautiful Lake Wakatipu, which was used to transport the Sisters to their destinations in the early days. As we went from place to place Sister Reader gave us excerpts from the Star of the South so we were able to familiarise ourselves with each place before we got there. Back in the day, Sisters for the Queenstown Convent arrived by boat and were greeted with the town band playing lively airs, local dignitaries welcoming them to the town, the faithful and children carrying lanterns. Other foundations didn’t start off quite so well; one tale included the Sisters turning up a week before they were apparently expected and they had to be whisked off for a day at the beach while the embarrassed Bishop made temporary arrangements for them.

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The Queenstown Convent, School and Church were heavenly and matched the stunning surroundings. Snowy mountains, green forests and clear blue lakes wherever you turned. The Sisters must have been very content with their location, for the views from the convent were spectacular. We were able to visit the Church, named in honour of St Joseph, and the School, which to our delight was preparing a play on Mother Gill for her anniversary. Teachers were amazed to see us and thought their pupils had dressed up ahead of time for it. They were kind enough to show us around the convent which was being used as a storeroom for the school and the more adventurous pupils ventured to come up and introduce themselves. Late evening saw us driving back to Dunedin to enjoy another delicious meal cooked by our host Mrs Best, who kindly put her whole home at our disposal.

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3 comments:

viterbo said...
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viterbo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
viterbo said...

A few years ago I was sitting in a cafe on St James Street in Brighton one afternoon. Suddenly, through the large window that looked out onto the bustling street, I saw an angel walk by; I was shocked, humbled - evidence of Our Saviour was momentarily in the midst of worldly hell. What I saw was my parish priest walk by wearing his cassock. The habit is a witness to Christ in a world that hates this witness. So; where have all the habits gone? Long time passing...When I looked around the church of St Joseph as a Dominican Sister (I had to take her word for it) spoke of the other sisters in the pews (again I had to take her word for it - only one Sister was in habit) - while the church celebrated 130 years of Dominican presence, I thought how sad it was that this presence has become invisible. The clergy at the parish level, the consecrated, are largely invisible to the world these days. This witness, this sense of angels in the midst of the battleground has gone. I feel certain it contributes to the sense of loneliness and abondment of the average human being, drowing in the secular circle of hell. There is no longer a reminder on the street that there is sanctuary to run to.