Sunday, January 12, 2014

Feast of the Epiphany 2014, Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Convent, Australia

At the conclusion of 2013 and at the start of 2014 we were blessed with a wonderful retreat preached by Reverend Fr Robert MacPherson, who is currently stationed in Wanganui, New Zealand.  It is always a special privilege to end and start a year with holy reflections and blessings. During this time, we did not go anywhere else, yet in the silence of our little temporary convent in 35 Granite Lane, Tynong, we meditated and reflected on the theological virtues and holy vows of religion as reflected in the life of the prophet Eliseus, supplemented with Holy Scripture, the writings of St Augustine, St Bernard and other saints. Thus armed with holy thoughts and good resolutions we were again fortified for this year’s battle towards sainthood and the salvation of souls. We again express our grateful thanks to Fr MacPherson and even though it poured with rain at the end of retreat, we considered it was a symbol of abundant blessings for the year ahead. However we did pray for beautiful weather for the next day – the Feast of the Epiphany – a very special day for our Congregation, for it entailed the reception of the habit for our four Postulants and First Profession for two Novices.

On the awaited day, despite the overcast sky, light rain and little attendance of our faithful parishioners (although we were especially grateful to the presence of these few faithful, friends, and particularly to the loving and very supportive parents and family members of our Postulants and Novices who travelled from afar to be with us), the ceremony began with solemnity.  We were overjoyed to have a grand Schola and choir - the Schola was led by Reverend Fr Couture, District Superior of Asia, who flew in that day from Singapore as well as Reverend Fathers Delsorte and Belisle, the Prior and Assistant Prior of Corpus Christi Church. We were also blessed with a visiting seminarian, Mr Patrick Kennedy and members of the Parish Schola.

A young lady has to be courageous and generous to follow God’s call.  Our "little" Postulants displayed this generosity and valour as they asked for the holy habit after having completed their time of postulancy. Like the three wise men from the East who offered the little infant Jesus, gold, frankincense and myrrh, our dear Postulants offered their very selves as special gifts for the little King.

What do you seek?
God’s mercy and yours, Father.


She hurries to lay down the hair of her head for His love 

that He may give her the Holy Ghost, 

that He may preserve the perpetual habit of Holy Religion in her,

and defend her heart from the distractions of the world and from worldly desires...

Just as she is changed in head and face, in the same way may His right hand give her an increase of virtue and open her eyes from all spiritual blindness and pour upon her the light of eternal glory.

Receive dear sister the crown of thorns in memory of the crown of Our Lord 

and if you wear the crown of thorns of tribulation in this life you will be rewarded by your Spouse with a crown of glory for evermore in the life to come

Names in the Old Testament usually signify something. They refer to, as the Catholic Encyclopedia stresses, “either to some trait of a child, actual or prophetic, or to some feeling or hope in the parent at the time of its birth”. A change of condition too, demanded a change of name, for instance; the conversion of Abram to Abraham – “because I have made thee a father of many nations” (Genesis 17:5). And so our new little Novices received new names, that they may be detached from the world and enter the religious state. Attached to the name is the name of the Mother of God, “Mary” in whose protection St Dominic entrusted the Order of Preachers and another name (preferably Dominican) in order to imitate their virtues and sanctity. For all of us, this was the most exciting part – to hear the new names of our dear little Sisters.  

Miss Maria Beatriz Piña Mejia from Mexico took the name 
Sister Maria Dolores
Miss Anna Cristen from Kansas, U.S.A. took the name 
Sister Mary Amata
Miss Cara Ruegg from Maryland, U.S.A. took the name 
Sister Mary Francis
Miss Emilyn Ng from Singapore took the name 
Sister Mary Imelda

To add to our excitement, our two American Novices, Sr Mary Johanna and Sr Mary Thomas pronounced their first vows.   



 “Just as Jesus hidden under sacramental species is a source of grace to those who approach Him in proportion to their dispositions (faith, hope, charity, humility) thus also the graces we will receive from Jesus hidden in our Superiors will be in proportion to the dispositions with which we approach them.” Dom Marmion

“the eyes of the handmaid are on the hands of her mistress” 
( Psalms 122: 2)

Fr Fullerton, the District Superior of Australia and New Zealand, preached an inspiring sermon on humility, taking the example of Our Lord who was born in a manger and on the Religious vows, pointing out obedience as the key to all the vows and the hardest of all; for by it a Sister submits her own will. 

Behind the cloud, the sun is always shining, as the saying goes, so with happy faces in thanksgiving for new graces received were able to process outside for a "family" photo. We also extend our grateful thanks to Fr Stephens and Fr Du Chazaud for being with us on this solemn occasion.            

Congratulations to our new Novices and Professed Sisters!

To all the Fathers, Parishioners, Friends, Parents and all our family members abroad, thank you for all your prayers. God bless you all!        

We ask for your earnest prayers for the perseverance of our new Novices and the fidelity of our newly Professed Sisters. We also make an urgent appeal to your ever generous hearts to help us build our New Convent in Tynong. God reward you!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

St Dominic's Convent, Wanganui ~ 22nd December 2013

Profession Ceremony

 “The Life of a Prophet” was the topic announced for the Sisters’ annual retreat this year, and the retreat fulfilled the promise of such an intriguing title. The prophet chosen was Eliseus, and we heard from Father MacPherson about burning your bridges (no, sorry, your plow) behind you when you answer God’s call, about taking the honour of God seriously (enough to have disrespectful children eaten by bears), and about not losing faith if at first you don’t succeed (even if what you are trying to do is stop a river by smacking it with a cloak).
From the lower right of this picture one can learn how to strike a river
A memorable story – linked with the theme of charity: bears maul the children who mocked Eliseus.
Rest assured, we do not have such things done to our pupils.

The retreat lasted from the fifteenth to the twenty-second of December, but we received the final blessing of the retreat one day early, as Father had to go to his mission in Auckland. This was providential as it fell on the feast of St Thomas the Apostle, who brought the Faith to Kerala in India, the home of Sister Maria Swarupa, who would be making final profession the next day. And the next day, Sunday, was also the old feast of the Patronage of Our Lady over the Dominican Order. So St Thomas gave his daughter in the faith a final blessing before placing her under the protection of the Queen of Apostles and Lady of the Friars Preachers.

On Sunday, at the sung Mass, Sister Marie Dominique renewed her vows and Sister Maria Swarupa transferred her perpetual vows, made twenty-four years ago, into the Dominican Order. For Sister Marie Dominique, the ceremony was like answering “yes, of course!” to a fiancé who asks halfway through the engagement, “are you sure you want to marry me?” For Sister Swarupa, it was like giving the same answer when your husband has been offered a job in a new country, far from your home and people, and asks if you would go with him there. For both, the Dominican vow of obedience was an act of love and a sign of God’s love for them, so after giving thanks for the many graces of the day at Mass, we celebrated this great occasion with a small reception at the school, at which we enjoyed seeing and speaking to many fellow-parishioners and pupils.

Sister Marie Dominique makes a renewal of her temporary vows (for another two years) in the hands of Mother General
The kiss of peace, given by the Superior, after the pronouncing of vows
Sister Maria Swarupa pronounces her perpetual vows
Father Louis Bochkoltz presides at the ceremony
Father Bochkoltz pronounces the final blessing of the ceremony as Sister Swarupa prostrates in the sanctuary.  She now wears a gold ring on her right hand, a visible sign of her eternal espousal to our Lord Jesus Christ.

At the Communion rail
A photo of the community outside the Church, after the ceremony

Sister Swarupa cuts the cake