by DEIRDRE HANLON
A series of four events — part of the annual Island Bay Festival — were well-attended on February 11-14 as many people took the opportunity to discover or rediscover Our Lady’s Home of Compassion.
A Family Open Day on Sunday, February 11, included tours of the chapel, the resting place of Suzanne Aubert and the Suzanne Aubert exhibition with Sr Josephine Gorman, the archivist for the Sisters of Compassion. There were also craft activities for children including rock painting and “heart crafts” taking as a theme Suzanne Aubert’s quote “Let us have a heart like an artichoke, and such a big one that everybody can have a leaf of it.” Everyone enjoyed the complimentary scones freshly baked in the home’s kitchen, and served in the new refreshment space.
Jessie Munro, the award-winning biographer of Suzanne Aubert, brought Suzanne’s story to life for Monday evening’s audience with her gifted eloquence of language and a fresh and insightful perspective on Suzanne Aubert’s personality and purpose.
Sr Sue Cosgrove, introduced an evening on the Art and Architecture of the Chapel and Resting Place saying, “Just last October we were able to finally lay Suzanne Aubert to rest, . . . timing is an amazing thing and everything happens at the right time so once again it was a wonderfully collaborative effect — led by Tennent Brown Architects — that gave birth to yet another beautiful space”.
Hugh Tennent explained the meaningful design and complex technical challenges behind many of the elements in the new space. Tanya Ashken and Cameron Drawbridge, wife and son of the late John Drawbridge, spoke of discovering a watercolour by the renowned artist in the attic, just at the right time, as they were creating the Resurrection window, which is the fifteenth station of the cross. Glass artist, Olaf Wehr-Candler, took the audience through the process of obtaining a suitable richness of colour needed to translate the painting into a vibrant stained glass window.
Festival events concluded with an ecumenical evening gathering of local church communities to mark Ash Wednesday. The chapel, across from the resting place of Suzanne Aubert, whose life of service was to all creeds and none, was the perfect setting for the congregation to pause and reflect. The service was led by Fr David Dowling and leaders of the Anglican, Presbyterian and Baptist churches. The Rev. Catherine Froud provided a reflection on the Gospel with a theme of a “countdown to goodness”.
Our Lady’s Home of Compassion, 2 Rhine Street, Island Bay, Wellington welcomes visitors and pilgrims 10am-3pm Monday to Saturday and 12noon to 3pm on Sundays.
Private accommodation and gathering spaces are available in the Retreat House. http://www.compassion.org.nz