The fourth celebration of Windows on a Women’s World: The Dominican Sisters of Aotearoa NZ took place recently in Auckland at St Dominic’s Blockhouse Bay parish Centre – a place familiar over many years to Dominican friars, sisters and the parish community.
Around 40 people gathered with Susannah Grant, her husband and family members (some of whom arrived as a surprise from Whangarei) – along with numbers of sisters and friends – to give thanks for the launching in Auckland of this significant book. It was a delight to have our Leadership team also with us for the occasion.
Carmel Walsh acted as the continuity person for the gathering and after welcoming us she introduced Elizabeth Mackie to open up for us the process of the book’s coming into being. We learnt first of the willingness of Otago University Press to take on the historical project of a religious congregation whose roots lie in Otago and second, the subsequent decision that the book be developed according to significant themes rather than chronologically.
Susannah then spoke gratefully about the willingness of sisters to be interviewed and also their openness to sharing their individual journeys within religious life. She spoke of having grown to know well many of the sisters and appreciated the ways in which her family had also been included in her Dominican journey over past years.
Then, it was time for historian Peter Lineham who had been involved in an early part of the book’s life to comment on the book itself. Peter is an enthusiast and that was very evident in his comments on the content, Susannah’s thematic presentation of her material and the many photos – which together created a significant testimony to the value and presence of religious life. His own sense of the importance of Christian faith in today’s Aotearoa New Zealand rang out with a deep appreciation for religious life and for the author of the book.
With hymns to begin and conclude the formal celebration, books were then available for sale and afternoon tea and conversation began. It was a truly happy event in which Dominican friends, former school pupils and teachers and Susannah’s family all participated. We are truly grateful!
Note: The photo shows Dr Peter Lineham, Susannah Grant and Elizabeth Mackie OP