Federation of Dominican Sisters in Oceania
16 March 2014 | General Interest
Dominican Sisters of New Zealand and Australia formally celebrated the inclusion of the New Zealand Dominican Sisters in the Federation of Oceania. Careful planning by the New Zealand Sisters had gone into preparing for the meeting held over 7-8 March in Dunedin, chosen for its significance in being the place where the Sisters established their first school ministries on arrival from Ireland in 1872.
On Saturday morning the Federation Council met with the New Zealand Leadership Team. A beautiful reflection was had, honouring our Sisters who have died since the last Federation meeting. We went on to spend time dreaming of possibilities for the future of the Federation. We were all moved by the fresh injection of hope, courage and enthusiasm for “something new” which was happening among us.
On Saturday afternoon we gathered, along with about twenty Sisters from the local area, for a Ritual of Welcome and Inclusion at Kavanagh College in Dunedin. The Principal of the College was in attendance with some students and gave us a traditional Maori welcome after which Sisters Jan and Elizabeth provided us with a short history of the Dominican Sisters and their ministries in New Zealand. Mother Mary Gabriel Gill was given special mention since we had the Sisters of West Australia in our midst! We then moved to the chapel, a special place for the Sisters where a ritual to recognise the inclusion of New Zealand in the Federation was led by Sisters Carmel and Judy in her capacity as President of what was the Australian Federation. The Statutes of the Federation were distributed to the Sisters present. It was a ceremony of simplicity and joy where our hopes were expressed in prayer together:
“We come together representing our Sisters in Australia, the Solomon Islands and Aotearoa New Zealand to remember and celebrate our common Dominican heritage of prayer, study, community and preaching. We ask you to bless us as we make a new commitment to support, challenge and encourage one another to be faithful women of the Gospel.”
“Holy Spirit of God, giver of wisdom, courage and hope, we thank you for your presence in and among us today. We pray that you will inspire and enliven this new entity, the Dominican Sisters in Oceania. Fill us with new energy and enthusiasm for being Dominican – contemplative preachers of the Word.”
For those present over the days there was such a strong sense of doing something new together, and this was combined with a spirit of vitality and passion for our Dominican call to be preachers of the Word.