Dominican Laity Newsletter #2


Newsletter #2

July 2008

It’s always good to know that among the many Dominican saints through the years, a significant number are lay people. In July we meet Bl Adrian Fortescue, martyred by Henry VIII, and Bl Jane of Orvieto, an early Dominican. Especially interesting, with World Youth Day in Sydney, is Bl Pier-Giorgio Frassati (pictured), who died in 1925 aged 24. You can read about him on the website








A reflection on “BEING DOMINICAN” by someone who found her way into the Dominican family.

Listening at the heart of our world and hearing

Divine disclosure

Divine unfolding

In the midst of tranquillity and chaos.

Mary Horn, Divine Disclosure – Darkness to Light: Exploring the question of God

in a post-modern world, Dominican Sisters Trust Board, Dunedin 2003.


Yesterday, nearly a month after receiving it by email, I found time to read the first ‘Dominican Laity’ newsletter. Life is like that – despite my best intentions, I deal daily with those things that demand my immediate attention, often leaving aside those things which most nurture my soul. Finding some soul-food in the stories of Peter’s work at Waihopai Base, of the new Dunedin community and of Dominic himself (in the attached chapter from Borgman’s book), I am inspired to write a few words.

Jenny and Mike asked me to frame my words in terms of living family life in the spirit of the Dominicans. That seems too daunting a task, as I have only just come to realise that I am Dominican – that I probably always have been. As I read Borgman’s writing again this morning, the following words resonate deeply with not only my experience of the spirituality lived by my Dominican brothers and sisters, but of my own:

Dominicans are convinced that the world in which we live, turbulent and restless, often violent and terrifying, is at the same time the place where the holy comes to light, the place where we encounter and listen to ‘contemplate’ — God.

As in the opening words from Mary Horn’s beautiful book, the Divine disclosure and unfolding of God comes from listening and hearing at the heart of our world…being in the world, experiencing it as a place where God lives amidst the chaos and the stillness both…and naming what we hear. That is what we are called to…in our work, in our leisure, in our family lives.

My first encounter with ‘Dominicans’ was at St Benedict’s parish nine years ago. My husband, Robin, and I walked into the church with our two children, Liam (then 7 yrs) and Caitlin (then 2 yrs) for a Sunday morning mass. I’ll never forget how warm the church felt despite the fact that it was dark and damp, and that there was paint peeling off the walls above where the statues hung. The warmth was in the community – which was composed of children (the toddlers even crawled onto the altar platform during the Eucharistic prayer!), parents, older adults, people with intellectual disabilities, new migrant families…it was a true Noah’s Ark of God’s human creations! There at St Ben’s we discovered others who shared our understanding that we are redeemed members of creation, who are called to contemplate God and to be God in the world. We discovered other ‘Dominican families’!

So what of spirituality in the midst of the wonderful chaos that is family life? One thing is true – it is hardest to be generous of heart to those in our own families. At least, that’s my experience! Family life teaches faithfulness…to the moment, to the hour, to the day…to the routine of babies needing to be fed and changed, children needing to be dropped off or picked up at school or sports practices or music lessons…to a spouse whose rhythms are not your own. It teaches openness to difference, as you discover that your children are unique beings who do not share all of your viewpoints on the world, who have their own gifts distinct from your own, and who choose friends that you might not choose for yourself. It teaches how much richer life is when you take the time to celebrate small achievements…the spring’s first freesias, the hatching of a new chick…your child’s new word…and every birthday…even the cat’s!

For a parent and spouse, often the biggest challenge is that of creating space for contemplation in family life…not only for personal contemplation but for communal contemplation. After twenty years of marriage, I am learning to slow down and create the personal space to listen more deeply to the Divine disclosure. And, despite resistance from a teenager, we persist at having sit-down dinners together as a family, to allow ourselves time for communal nourishment, both physical and spiritual. The family meal times are often the only space in which we listen to each other making sense of the day, of the world, of our lives. We often contemplate together what it means to live justly. It is the one time in the day when we acknowledge together how blessed we are, and we remember those who face much larger daily struggles than our own.

At times I struggle with feeling pulled in many directions, wondering whether my energies are devoted to the ‘right things’. I am not an activist, in the sense of Fr Peter, nor am I living in an official Dominican community… As a family, we are no longer weekly attendees at St Ben’s liturgies. Yet, I have come to see this life of faithfulness to family life as an alternative way of living Dominican community…of ‘listening at the heart of our world’. Family life is one place where ‘the holy comes to light’.

Pat Neuwelt

Auckland, June 18, 2008

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The feast of St Dominic is celebrated in New Zealand on the weekend of 2-3 August. Events around the country are as follows. Lay Dominicans are most welcome at all these family celebrations.


Annual St Dominic’s Day Celebration for Ex-Pupils and Friends

Sunday 3 August  2pm at Epsom Catholic Church Hall, Banff Avenue, Epsom

RSPV  Sr Leonie (09) 832-3740; or email <> with numbers for catering.  Gold coin collection at the door to cover costs.


Palmerston North

Family gathering on Saturday 2 August at the home of Mary Eastham, 11 Suffolk Cres, Feilding beginning with brunch at 11.00am, and with guest speaker Teresa McNamara from Auckland, recently back from WYD, Sydney. Koha invited, to help pay Teresa’s fare. Ph Mary 06 323 8684; or email <>


Dominican Ex-Pupils and Friends Annual Luncheon – Sunday 10 August – 11.30am

Mana Cruising Club, Ngatotoa Domain, Parematta.    Cost ($22.00)

RSPV     Sr Roxane  (04) 477 0751;   or email <>


2.30pm Saturday 9 August – Dominican Family Eucharist at Sacred Heart Church, North

East Valley, followed by afternoon tea.      All welcome!


Sunday 3 August – Dominican Family Gathering and celebration meal after Mass.



11am Sunday 3 August – Dominican Family Eucharist in the Arrowtown church followed by celebration meal.


5.30pm  Monday 4 August   Dominican Family Eucharist  at The White Heron followed by a celebration meal.


A great way to start the New Year in 2009! You are invited to the Summer School, organised by the Dominican Planning Committee. The theme of each of the Schools is:

Communities of Hope in a Chaotic World.

Guest speaker is Dr Barbara Reid OP, who holds a PhD in Biblical Studies from the Catholic University of America in Washington DC, and who is currently professor of New Testament at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.

Part of the school consists of creative workshops, covering poetry, art and storytelling, conducted by Joy Cowley, Mary Horn, Bernadette Hall and Jan Ogilvy.

There are three schools:

Dunedin – from 2-5 January (Saturday to Monday), 9.00am to 5.30pm daily. At St Margaret’s College, Leith St.

Costs: Live in – $200 ($180 early bird)

Live out with lunch and dinner $120 ($100 e.b.)

Live out, lunch only $100 ($80 e.b.)

Auckland – from 8 to 11 January (Friday to Sunday), 9.00am to 4.00pm daily. At St Columba Centre, 40 Vermont St Ponsonby. This is a non-residential event, but some accommodation may be available at the seminary.

Costs: Full registration $120 (early bird $120)

Wellington – a short course, from Friday evening 16 January to Saturday 17 January (all day). At Connolly Hall, Hill St.

Costs: details to come.

All members of the Dominican family are most welcome to these wonderful occasions of learning and reflection.

Quite simply: Highly recommended!

Further details and application forms from Anne Haines, 68 Tyne St, Mosgiel 9024, Ph 03 477 7577. Or email Mike at <>

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Maura Toomey RIP

Maura’s brother, Kevin, has provided the following poem by Maura – perhaps it captures something of Maura’s essence.


A Christmas Present

Friendship 1972.

So you want to be friends?

Hey, how about that

What does it mean now?

What do you do? You give all you have,

Don’t you?

What do you receive?

In kind

Don’t you?

Friendship is care and kindness

A joke, a pun

Shared joy and trouble,

Don’t you agree?

Friendship is easiness and trust,

What do you think?

Friendship is yell and slang

But fix the hurt you do

Won’t you?

Friendship is wide and close,

Laugh with not laugh at

Don’t you agree?

Yet friendship is lost

How did it happen?

You forget to give

Don’t you?

You even resent, forget twist

What a hell of a bind!

Maybe tomorrow you’ll find what you


Don’t you agree?

Or maybe it was never had!

Just an illusion

A joy in the passing.

How sad,

Don’t you agree?

Mau J.T.

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In the first newsletter we had a theological commentary on Dominican laity. Here we have a piece from an historian.

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Thanks to all those who sent comments about the first of these newsletters. Your observations are most welcome. The letter certainly seems to be serving a need. If you have a comment to make, or might be interested in contributing a piece to the next letter (September), please contact us.

Don’t forget to pass on this newsletter to others who might be interested – or let us know their name/address, and we can send a copy.

Blessings and peace

Mike Kelly and Jenny Wilson

Newsletter co-ordinators

PO Box 346 Masterton

Ph 06 370 2084