Dominican Laity Newsletter #14


Newsletter #14

December 2010

Dear members of the New Zealand Dominican family


As Christmas nears, it is apt to recall that the very first Christmas Mass in New Zealand was said by a Frenchman and a Dominican, Fr Anton Villefeix OP, who travelled as chaplain aboard the St Jean Baptiste, captained by Jean François Marie de Surville, in 1769. Of de Surville’s expedition (at the same time as Cook’s, although they did not meet), the history says:

In the evening of the 17th December, the St Jean Baptiste anchored in a bay which de Surville had baptised “La Baie de Lauriston”,” in honour of Lauriston, Governor of French India. Captain James Cook had already named this bay Doubtless Bay, although he had simply sailed by and not anchored at this point.

To de Surville’s relief, friendly relations were established between the Māori and the French at Doubtless Bay. De Surville was able to replenish the ship’s supplies, and commence care for his numerous sick crew members.

Unfortunately, Doubtless Bay, or “La Baie de Lauriston” was not particularly sheltered as a harbour, and de Surville was obliged to consider seeking a more secure spot. However, as the sick crew members were returning to the “St Jean Baptiste” after a day on shore, on the 27th December, a strong wind lifted, forcing their boat back. At the same time, the “St Jean Baptiste” found itself in difficulty, and its anchors were not holding.

The French departed from New Zealand on 31 December.

Good to know of the Dominican presence in New Zealand so early.

Thanks to Fr Peter Murnane who brought this to our attention. Peter also discovered a story of two friars who made their home in New Zealand at an early date.

Fr Herbert Gilbert Tigar OP was an Englishman who came to New Zealand in 1907, as Diocesan Missioner to Bishop Lenihan in Auckland. He was highly regarded as a man of huge energy and as a striking preacher. He was particularly well known in the Tuakau, Thames and East Coast districts. He returned to England in 1914 and served as an army chaplain. He died in Leicester, still today a Dominican priory.

Fr Alfred Benedict Tickell OP, born 1844, had indifferent health that was not helped by harsh English winters, and in 1900 he took up a preaching commission in New Zealand. Little is known of his work here, but he was active in giving retreats and preaching tours. He died in 1905 and is buried at Panmure.

Frs Peter, and Chris Loughnan are in the process of writing up a history of the friars in New Zealand. We await their account with interest.


A Christmas message from Fr David Kammler, Promoter for the laity:

Kammler Letter































General Chapter – the Sisters

As the sisters prepare for their 16th General Chapter, we wish them a Spirit-filled time to reflect on their past and present and seek God’s will for the future.

The first two days of the chapter, 8-9 January 2011, on the theme of Dominicans – a Family of Contemplative Preachers, will be led by Ann Willits OP and Matt Walsh OP, from USA. We are told that so many people want to attend this period, that it was oversubscribed! A great sign for the future of the Dominican family! We shall be there, and we look forward to meeting so many of the people who receive this newsletter.



It was decided at the May gathering of lay Dominicans that we needed to begin finding a process of formation for lay Dominicans that suits the New Zealand context. For some time a group has been meeting, based in Wellington, to explore what is needed.

At the last meeting we wondered whether similar small groups of people in other areas might like to meet, with a few to considering aspects of formation. We understand that there are moves to set up something in Auckland. How about Dunedin? Central Otago?

Anyone interested in such a process is welcome to contact us for further information.

CHRISTMAS BLESSINGS TO ALL OUR READERS. We look forward to carrying the Dominican message forward in 2011.


Remember: we would love to hear from readers of this newsletter

Mike Kelly and Jenny Wilson


Ph 06 370 2084 Email: