Dominican Laity Newsletter #18


Newsletter #18

October 2011

Dear Friends

Many people are receiving this newsletter for the first time. Welcome to our new Dominican friends.

So many things have been happening lately! And that’s not counting the WRC!

The visit of gifted preachers Donagh O’Shea OP and Angela Campion OP (Alas, the Gaelige could not hold out the Cymraeg in the semifinals)

The death of Sister Clare Timpany in Auckland

The return of Jacqui Ryan from her fascinating time as an intern at the United Nations

The imminent departure of Fr Peter Murnane OP (give or take a court hearing or two) for the Solomons, where he will be helping in the formation of young Dominicans


It was a delight to see the enthusiasm of so many people for what was really a considerable challenge – a six-day silent retreat. In both Auckland (Franciscan Friary) and in Dunedin (Holy Cross Mosgiel), 30-or-so people, both sisters and lay people, took the opportunity to chill, out, to listen to some

powerful preaching, and to spend some quality time with God.

Three people have written reflections on their experiences: Alison Bryant from Auckland, Trish Ramsay from Arrowtown, and Leslie Lumsden from Mosgiel. Here are their comments.

From Ali Bryant

Maybe it suggests a silent retreat well spent when I say that I have difficulty putting into words what I experienced in a week at St Francis Retreat Centre in Auckland in September. How can spending a week in silence nurtured by the Word and by Nature be so exhilarating and exhausting at the same time? It is The Mystery.

The rhythm of the day was well set out and established from the beginning. This enabled us to breathe deeply throughout our day. From meditation sessions in the morning -where we were encouraged to draw from the well -to wonderful preaching, thoughtful personal sessions with retreat leaders, prayer, Eucharist and the coming together at day’s end. The rhythm became familiar and reassuring as the week travelled. It allowed us to listen deeply to the words that were spoken, to the trees that surrounded us and to what was inside each of us.

We were together as a community but also on a very personal and even private journey so different things will have touched others in a different way but thought I would share with you some of the words that had a profound affect on me:

“We are the earthenware jars that carry the mystery of God”

“Live your lives in him, rooted in Christ”

“Rejoice in the limitlessness of God”

And a few of the questions I pondered..

Who am I when I pray?

How are my trials material for transformation?

What are the horizons I am being invited toward?

And my personal favourite from Angela…

How can you tell a chrysalis to become a butterfly?

Knowing God, seeing God, we are invited to a consciousness that is EVERYWHERE in EVERYTHING and we are invited into a relationship with all creation. God has chosen to reveal her love – we can only see it with God’s spirit in our hearts.

For me it seemed to all be about the invitation

…….. to be there, then

…….. to be here, now

…….. to carry the cross

…….. to pass on the love

I am thankful to many

To a loving God, to Angela, Judith, Mike and Donagh, to my fellow retreatants for their warmth and acceptance without words, for a supportive family, to the Dominican sisters for sharing and the invitation to attend the retreat, for the beautiful trees that surround the friary and for the gift of silence.

At the conclusion of the retreat I spoke to the ever-smiling Helen Bergin and asked her what she got out of the retreat – in her humility she just said “I really needed it”

The fact is, we all do.

With a grateful heart,

PS I was encouraged by Angela to find a symbol to share and to take home to remind me of all that this week had been. My symbol was a box of laundry powder – it was an image that had come to me as everything, all the joyful and the painful all tossed around “in the wash”. I kept this symbol on my bedside table. All good you think. After a couple of weeks our 10 month old puppy chewed a hole in the side! It was the prompt I needed to stop looking back and get on with the NOW. And funnily, I don’t find doing the laundry as much of a chore!


From Trish Ramsay

We, the Arrowtown Girls (all Mothers of Young Adults) are still reliving the five day Dominican Retreat, held at Holy Cross, Mosgiel.    Each day started with Meditation and continued with Prayer, Preaching of the Word (by an expert Irish and Kiwi Team), one to one, The Eucharist….finishing with night Prayer and Sharing. Delicious meals were provided (no preparing or washing up!!)in between times. Having never experienced a retreat before, it was something we will never forget It has deepened our appreciation of our own living Faith. We now feel more comfortable with our company and that of God. Here are two stories we would like to share with you as two people did during sharing time.                      Who do they say I am ?                     Who am I for you ?                     Who do you say I am ? A little boy wanted to meet God. He knew it was a long trip to where God lived ,so he packed his suitcase with Smarties and a sixpack of gingerbeer and started his journey.When he had gone about three blocks, he met an old woman. She was sitting in the park just staring at some pigeons. The boy sat next to her and opened his suitcase. He was about to take a drink from his gingerbeer when he noticed that the old woman looked hungry, so he offered her a smartie. She gratefully accepted and smiled at him. Her smile was so pleasant that the boy wanted to see it again, so he offered her a gingerbeer. Again, she smiled at him. The boy was delighted! They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but never said a word. As it grew dark, the boy realized how tired he was and got up to leave, but before he had gone more than a few steps, he turned around, ran back to the old woman and gave her a hug. She gave him the biggest smile ever.When the boy opened the door and met his mother she asked him “What did you do today that made you so happy?” He replied, “I had lunch with God”…and…”She’s got the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen”. Meanwhile the old Woman, also radiant with joy, returned to her home. Her daughter was stunned by the look of peace on her mother’s face and asked “Mother, what did you do today that made you so happy?” She replied, “I ate smarties in the park with God” And before her daughter responded, she added, “You know, he’s much younger than I expected.”


A Wee Galilee Experience  On a frosty early morning walk I spied a young blackbird on the ground under a silverbirch tree. Her feathers all fluffed up, she gazed at me. I stepped closer.She continued to gaze at me, sitting there, very still. I noticed her breathing, in and out ,very still. A snowdrop, in all her spring beauty, was also sheltering fromOn returning from my walk, she was still there. She had moved closer to the trunk of the tree, still breathing, in and out, very still. A snowdrop ,in all its spring beauty was also sheltering from the frost.     Thank you Mother Nature.I have learned to be still and to listen to my

the frost.

Thank you Mother Nature. I have learned to be still and listen to my

breathing during Meditation by observing a blackbird. (We call her Mrs God)      Thankyou also to all the team who helped make our five day Dominican silent retreat so successful……….Angela, Donagh, Joan, Mike and Judith and MaryAnna


From Leslie Lumsden

Through such scriptures, as that of Mark 6:31, we read how Jesus took his disciples apart to a quiet place to rest. The pace of life and the demands upon them all, wherever Jesus taught and ministered, must have at times been exhausting. While we do not have thousands pressing in and around us, we are no different. Life still makes many demands upon us, especially wherever the Lord calls us to live or to minister. As Donagh reminded us, the stages of life can be compared to the areas of water in Israel. The sea of Galilee, refreshing and full of life, the dead sea that has no life, and the deserts of Judea where things can get so mixed up and misunderstood. Whichever sea we have been experiencing, a silent retreat can become an attractive spiritual oasis.

And where better to find rest, refreshing, and new insights from the scripture we love, than on a retreat with Dominican sisters and brothers. Mind, body, soul and spirit are nurtured in times of learning, and in prayer, in silence and in shared reflection. In Christ we reaffirm our “One-ness”: One in Christ, and One in the bonds of love. To engage in a silent retreat becomes for each attendee, rest at a spiritual oasis. For me and others, Holy Cross, in Mosgiel this September, was the venue for this year’s retreat.

You may have heard similar comments before, but how often have you heard them from a Presbyterian, I wonder? And even more wonderful, this year I discovered another Presbyterian had joined us on this retreat.

The first retreat I ever attended, was at Teschemakers about 20 or so years ago, when we were led by Thomas Green S.J. , the well known author and then director of the San Jose seminary in the Phillipines. My imagination was captured, and my appetite whetted. In this instance I was asked to provide transport back to my home town, for a well known Dominican sister, Sr. Catherine Tither. As we shared on the journey home, so began an association of friendship and attending these retreats whenever the opportunity presented itself. Little did either of us know that we would not be travelling together this September as, sadly, Catherine passed away from us suddenly in June of this year. I will be forever grateful for her love and encouragement.

What a blessing it is when those in leadership can share their knowledge and understanding, share what the Spirit has revealed to them. On this occasion our retreat team consisted of Angela Campion OP, Donagh OShea OP, both from Ireland, and by Mike Kelly OPL, and Joan Hardiman OP from N.Z. For me personally, I gained from each speaker. They challenged me, gave me food for thought and, another doorway to walk through in which to re-examine my faith and my understanding.

During one of my “quiet times” I happened to read a magazine called INTERCOM which had been lying on a coffee table. An article which really struck me was that about the treasure buried in a field. A man walking through the field discovered it, then made haste to buy the field and so reap the treasure. In this instance the writer was arguing the case for the treasure to be found in the traditions of all Christian denominations. Maybe we have often blindly walked past or through such a field. The article continued with possible reasons such as seeing oneself in rivalry or competition with “the Other” and how we needed to unearth the treasure at our feet, in careful and honest exploration. I have to say AMEN to this. I find it is true, as I have continued to unearth treasure in each retreat that I have attended. I am sure the heart of Jesus has no place for denominational differences. We crucified him once, we cannot do it again. He heals us and makes us ONE.

I have always found “Oneness” on these Dominican retreats. Thank you retreatants, and leaders. Once again I have received great treasure, not only from the preaching, but from each one who shared a personal reflection at the end of each evening. It reinforces for me again how we are part of one another.

As with my very first experience at Teschemakers, I am always blessed by the palpable sense of love without words that embraces each and every one of us on retreat. Love doesn’t have to talk about it… Love just “IS” and Love just “DOES” “Once I was a stranger and you took me in” and you loved me.

Angela, Donagh, Mike and Joan fed my mind, my spirit and my heart. Thank you. There is always a deeper place to explore, more to lay down, more to embrace. The well of living water continues to fill and rise and the more it empties, I believe the more it fills. Grace and Shalom to all my brothers and sisters in Christ.Leslie

Two Obituaries

Among the sad occasions for the sisters in recent times, one was the death of Sister Catherine. Another was the death of a strong Dominican woman from USA.

Sister Catherine

– Ellen Teresa Tither was born in Wyndham, Southland, on 19 December 1928, one of eight children.  Her primary education was at the Edendale Public School and her secondary at St Dominic’s College, Dunedin.

She entered St Dominic’s Novitiate on 29 April, 1948 and was professed on 28 January 1953.  In the following years she taught in many Dominican schools throughout New Zealand, from Auckland to Bluff.  In 1977 she had a renewal study year at the Chanel Institute in Auckland.  This was followed by five years on the staff at Holy Cross School, Henderson, before she moved back to the Dunedin area.

In the years after this she was able to continue her love of study  by attending courses at Holy Cross College, Mosgiel,  structural analysis and anti-racism  programmes, and a course in horticulture   It was the time also in which she was able to further her love and interest in the Maori culture, and was involved with two Maori  whanau.

She adjusted to her time of ‘retirement’ and continued to be as involved as previously though working at her own pace and within her accepted limits.  Her activities included neighbourhood visiting, hospitality, Adult Literacy, tramping and line dancing.  Gardening became her favourite hobby and she experimented with organic gardening, composting and no-dig gardens, supplying many with the fruits of her labour and with her ready advice when requested.  By joining the Taieri Tramping Club she nourished her love of creation and each Wednesday went with the group to interesting and out of the way beautiful places.  Through this she met up with a wide range of interesting people and formed strong and lasting friendships.

Her own personal relationship with God was the rootedness of her life.  This was nurtured by her attendance at daily Mass when possible and her daily times of prayer and personal reflection to which she was always faithful.  Once a week she joined a small number of parishioners who met as a mediation group.

Throughout her later years Catherine suffered health difficulties but accepted these and continued to function as best she could at any given time.  She also had the grief of losing all her family siblings, the last of whom was her sister, Sister M Gennaro SMSM whom she was able to spend precious time with in Auckland on occasions during the last two years.  Catherine became unwell and was admitted to Dunedin Hospital on 8 June where she died suddenly six days later.  May she be at peace with her God.

Sister Lorraine

from Susan Healy


Eulogy for a Peacemaker:  Jackie’s Song of Justice

Jacqueline Hudson, OP (1934-2011) passed away on August 3,2011.  Jackie was a prisoner of conscience and was incarcerated for her actions a number of times throughout her life.  During her last imprisonment, her health deteriorated and she was released from prison in Ocilla, Georgia several weeks before she died. 

This is a personal reflection of a life well lived, filled with courage, passion and patience. Jackie lived so clearly out of her own conscience that there were times when her courageous actions defy logic.  Both of us grew up in Saginaw, Michigan, belonged to the same parish, attended the same school and grew up in the same neighborhood existing in different generations.  We both became Dominicans of Grand Rapids and through our years together in religious life, we were grounded in the spirituality and history of Dominican life.

Jackie became steeped in the paradox of the Gospel story, in the example of our founder, St. Dominic, and the long tradition of women religious living the evangelical counsels.  Our sister, St. Catherine of Siena provided a backdrop of living a passionate life of love and justice, speaking courageously to religious and political leaders.  In addition, the non-violent peace movements led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi and Dan and Phil Berrigan awakened us to the critical needs of peace and justice in our world.

In her early years, Jackie was a music teacher, teaching piano, choral and instrumental music in both elementary and high schools.  Throughout her years, she sang in a musical group of Dominican Sisters known as the Mellow D’s.  Her finely-trained ear led her to listen carefully to the politics of war and she began to address the discord of violence and war within our country.

With great fidelity, Jackie maintained her membership as a vowed religious in our congregation.  Along with her justice community, she kept us aware of the destructive nature of the use of nuclear weapons.  We continue to be challenged to pay attention and to speak and act against violence particularly regarding the use of nuclear weapons.

In 1993, Jackie moved to Bremerton, Washington where she joined a peace community involved in social justice issues.  She became certified as a commercial driver and drove a bus in the city system in order to support her contribution to the congregation’s common good.  She once said, “I liken myself to St. Paul, who was a tent maker to pay his expenses and still gave himself time for ministry.”

With her friends Sisters Ardeth Platte and Carol Gilbert, also Dominican Sisters ~Grand Rapids, and a faithful justice community, she participated in demonstrations and ultimately in acts of civil resistance for the cause of nuclear disarmament.  Jackie pursued the root causes of violence that are hidden deep in the politics of the arms race and the buildup of our country’s nuclear weapons.  Along with her justice community, she studied over many years the destructive invisible and hidden attitudes, behaviors and actions that led our country to systemic violence.  These forces lead our country to violence beyond our comprehension since they are capable of destroying the entire human race. Jackie ultimately believed that the pursuit of military dominance through nuclear weapons was illegal under international law and U.S. treaties.

For Jackie, the process of justice making was a complex activity of naming the powers, unmasking the powers and engaging the powers.  This requires bringing a critical perspective to the political, economic and cultural institutions.  One must have the courage to break the silence and confront the structures of abuse.  Jackie did this in countless ways, by letter writing and by crossing the lines in challenging the laws that protect the secrets of destruction.

Jackie acted in civil resistance and willingly faced the consequence of violating the law, which took her to prison where she lived patiently over long periods of time.  In the abusive atmosphere of the prison culture, with its diminishment, hatred and violent treatment of persons, Jackie spoke out on behalf of justice and compassion. Her witness and courage were sources of strength and inspiration to all who knew her.

Jackie passed on to a resurrected life on August 3, 2011.  She has not left us with volumes of notes or letters to solve the systemic violence embedded in the build-up of nuclear weapons.  She simply confronted the systemic violence and bore the consequences of her choices.  She followed Jesus and lived her life according to her conscience.  She chose to walk a difficult journey true to her convictions as did Jesus -faithful to the end.

Rest in peace dear Jackie, dear beloved Sister!

Lucianne Siers, OP September, 2011

Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids

Dominican Co-Promoter of Justice for North America

Executive Director of the Partnership for Global Justice, NYC


Two reflections by lay Dominicans on the gathering held this year in Dunedin.

Talk by Patricia McKewen

We are gathered here today to celebrate the Eucharist in honour of St Dominic’s feast day in the presence of our Dominican family.

St Paul states: “our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings so also you share in our consolation.

These words are reflected in the life of St Dominic.

St Dominic was born in 1170 to a family fervent in the practice of the faith.

His early life revolved around prayer and learning.

Several years study at the university was followed by a period of time leading a contemplative life but he was also very kind and generous to the poor.

About this time he became aware of the spiritual ruin bright about by the Albigensian heresy.

In order to combat this heresy and propagate religious truth he felt the need to establish a religious order – thus the Order of Preachers known to us as the Dominican Order was founded in 1215.

The objectives: to praise, – to bless – and to preach.

Perhaps Dominic was inspired by St Paul’s words in today’s reading – “He who rescued us from so deadly a peril will continue to rescue us; on him we set our hope that He will rescue us again as you also join in helping us by your prayers; so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessings granted us through the prayers of many.”

These words are relevant today.

How do we enact St Dominic’s message in today’s world?

To take one example: evangelising and contemplating the Word.

With the current shortage of priests it is imperative that lay people including members of the Dominican family take a more active part to promote Christ’s teaching; participate in prayer groups and organise Eucharistic services.

Two of my sisters who live in more remote parts of Otago are actively engaged in their communities preparing, planning and participating in these services. These require prayer, thought, time and effort to keep the faith alive in these communities.

Surely this is the continuation of St Dominic’s objective – to praise, to bless and to preach the God of love.

How can we answer this call in our everyday life?

Talk by Edna Cogger based on the gospel of Luke 9:57-62

As a former student of the Dominican sisters, speaking to members of the Dominican family, I found three words in this reading from St Luke that stood out for me: they are journey, discipleship, and truth.

The first word, journey, made me think back to the beginning of my life’s journey, when my parents shared their very real gift of faith with our family and me. Our Eucharist was celebrated in a local hall where we assembled the altar before Mass, there was no heating, and we knelt on a bare floor. I remember fondly my mother filling a thermos before we left home, to take down to Father for a cup of tea after Mass. We also prayed the rosary after our evening meal, like many other families.

My next step on my faith journey was in the presence of the Dominican sisters who gave us a real appreciation of the Eucharist, as we had the opportunity to attend the celebration of the Mass and pray the rosary daily, and celebrate benediction weekly. Our spirituality was also nurtured by hearing and discussing the Word, the rituals, the singing, and the Sisters’ willingness to share generously with us their love of Christ surrounded by much beauty wherever we went.

The next word discipleship in today’s gospel reminds us that we are asked to go and proclaim the kingdom of God, by being followers and by gathering more followers en route until we form a multitude. Thanks to St Dominic who preached, journeyed, and spread the truth wherever he went we have the multitudes of Dominicans around the world today. We are also required to be disciples as we do our daily chores, praying frequently, sharing the Word when the opportunity arises, and being grateful for the kindnesses that come our way through friends, family and members of the Dominican community.

The third word which we were introduced to when we first started school is truth, the word VERITAS which we proudly wore on our school blazers and hat crests, and which is universally known to all Dominicans beginning with St Dominic himself.

My prayer today is that we may continue our life’s journey in the footsteps of St Dominic, as disciples proclaiming and spreading the teachings of Christ, the Spirit of Truth.


The feast of St Martin de Porres is on 3 November. In Auckland and in Feilding, Dominicans will gather.

1. In Auckland



Date: Sunday, 6 November, 2011 2.00pm – 4.00pm

Venue: St Dominic’s Parish Meeting Room, 34 Bolton St, BlockhouseBay

Sharing the Vision of our

Dominican Deaf community!

Dominican ex-pupil, Mary Johnson MNZM,

with friends from the local Catholic Deaf community will share with us their wisdom and experience


It would be appreciated if you could e-mail Helen at or ph. 845-2453if you are able to come

2. In Feilding

We shall celebrate the gift of St Martin on Saturday 5 November, at the home of Mary Eastham, 11 Suffolk Cres. Feilding, starting at 11.00.  We shall have a brief liturgy, lunch (please bring something to share), and then a film.

Alas, we have no film of St Martin.  But we have the film Of Gods and Men, a touching and powerful film about nine Trappist monks in the monastery of Tibhirine, Algeria, who lived in harmony with the largely Muslim population, until seven of them were kidnapped and assassinated in 1996 during the Algerian Civil War. (The film was reviewed by Fr Kevin Toomey in the last Tui Motu).


Andrei Rublev was a 15th century Russian painter of icons. One of his most famous is the one called The Trinity. Auckland retreatants will remember it on the mantelpiece. It is a picture of great depth of meaning.

For those who have access to the Internet, there is a splendid meditation on Rublev’s Trinity at this website:

Blessings and peace.

Mike Kelly and Jenny Wilson


Ph 06 370 2084 Email: