by MOTHER MARY MADELEINE, OP
When New Zealand went into a Covid-19 lockdown earlier this year, the Dominican Sisters of Wanganui were left with a “bubble”, consisting of 23 nuns, 11 boarders, two house mothers and one Dominican friar. These numbers explain why the sisters have a building programme.
Building projects for the sisters include an accommodation block and temporary chapel, an extension to the refectory and the construction of a library beneath the refectory-extension. (A library is needed as Dominicans are obliged to study all their lives.) The Order has recently purchased the house next to the convent, which provides very crowded temporary chapel-space and accommodation.
The Dominican Sisters of Wanganui were founded in 2002. St Dominic’s College, where the sisters currently teach, was founded in 1999. Fifty girls from years 7-13 attend the college. There are 11 boarders, including two Koreans, a Filipina, a Japanese, a Tahitian, some Australians and some New Zealanders. The sisters themselves are also multi-cultural, with New Zealanders, Australians, Americans, a Singaporean, a Canadian, an Argentinian, a Filipina, an Indian, a South African and two Samoans.
We currently have enquiries about vocations from eight young ladies of a suitable age. These enquiries lend urgency to the building programme, as our accommodation is already cramped. Indeed, there is a certain amount of humour to be had from the crowding in the chapel, which means that the sisters have to move prie dieus (prayer desks) when anyone wants to enter or leave the chapel.
In order to finance our building programme, we have instituted a “guild system” to give credit and encouragement to our benefactors, have conducted musical concerts (we have some talented sisters), had a family fun-day, and have run raffles. We are very grateful to all our benefactors, who are constantly in our prayers.
The new accommodation block is almost finished and was blessed on St Dominic’s Day, August 4. It only remains to pay for it!
Further information about the Dominican Sisters of Wanganui can be found on our website: https://www.dominicansisters.net.nz/