Dominican Laity Newsletter #25


Newsletter #25

December 2012

Dear Friends

First, the bad news: with great regret, we note the forthcoming departure of Norman Gray from New Zealand . Family illness in USA calls him home. We record the great contribution Norman has made to the development of the lay Dominican movement in New Zealand , and we offer our prayers for him and Scott and their families at this sad time. Norman will be here for the visit of Fr David Kammler. And we would like to think that at some time, we shall see back with us here and helping us grow in the spirit of Sts Dominic and Catherine. His wisdom and experience have been a great gift to us.

Next, the plan for the visit of Fr David Kammler is now close to being ready. Many thanks to Willie Campbell, who has taken on the organisation of the visit in the Dunedin area from Moira Gallagher, who has had to hand over the reins. To these two generous people, our grateful thanks.

Thanks also to Kevin Gallagher in Christchurch (Moira’s cousin!) who, although not a Dominican, has taken on the task of hosting Bro David’s visit to that city.

You can see the plan (nearly complete!) in the attachment. Pop the dates for your area in your new 2013 diary! If you can help, contact the organiser for your town.

Below you will find Bro David’s Christmas message – as usual, a message both profound and relevant.


Dominicans in the Far North

Hana Maxwell-Mathias and the Faith of the Artist

Each year the Auckland Dominican family meets in April near the feast of St Catherine of Siena and in November near the feast of All Dominican Saints.

On Sunday 4 November this year, Helen opened the afternoon gathering with prayer and reflection around St Martin de Porres. We then had a presentation on the “Faith of the Artist” by Hana Maxwell-Mathias. Hana is a member of our Dominican family and lives in Whangarei. Hana has hapu affliations in the Whangarei area to Ngati Hau, Te Waiariki, Ngati Korora, Ngati Taka, Ngati Kahu o Torongare, Ngati Hine and Ngati Wai. In the Hokianga she is affiliated to Te Pouka, Ngati Wharara, Ngati Korokoro, Te Hikutu and Te Mahurehure.

Hana became well known to a number of the Sisters and laity when she worked for several years at Pompallier Diocesan Centre as the Executive Office for the National Catholic Runanga. What many of us had not known was that on returning to Whangarei in the mid-1990s, Hana took up studies in te reo (the Maori language) and then applied art at Northland Polytechnic. Hana talked about the different projects she worked on in her art course, many of them directly linked to her faith. One of these was a study of the churches in and around the Hokianga. This study included photographs, clay models of the churches and prints done on bamboo leaf. She also made a collection of Rosary beads, using a wide range of media. These are now held by Pa Henare Tate at Motiti.

After graduating from the Northland Polytechnic course, Hana embarked on a Masters in Art and Design through the Auckland University of Technology. She graduated this year. Her thesis is called “Nga Maumahara: Memory of Loss” and is based on her art work around Ngati Hau’s losses of land, resources and people between 1865 and 1920. Hana’s presentation to us had a lot of depth to it and was quite moving. At the beginning and end she paid tribute to Mary Horn and Mary’s art work. Mary has been her inspiration in pursuing her path of faith and art.

It was a particular joy to have Hana with us as one of our laity from the north. She and Maria Tu’inukuafe are our two active members of the Dominican family in the far north at present.

Susan Healy



Hana (left) with Sr Maureen Connolly




St Peter’s Church Pangaru






Seventeen sisters gathered from the Southland, North Otago and Dunedin regions joined by Jacqui and Susie. We based our weekend around the article by Sandra Schneiders, ‘That Was Then, This is Now: The Past , Present and Future of Women Religious in the United States ’ (Sept. 2012).*

We began by looking at our own congregational history, which we divided into four periods. For each we asked: How many were we?, Where were we?, What were we doing? and What was important for us? The presence of the whole Archives Committee, copies of ‘Star of the South’ and the resources of the archives room, led to a lively discussion. We were able to identify periods of growth, times of expansion, the impact of Vatican II and the creativity and spirit with which we responded to its challenges to re-shape our congregational life. We also recalled the courage and vision of sisters who led and influenced us at each period.

This led into a time of personal reflection and one-to-one sharing on these questions: What was my motivation in my early religious life? How do I now understand my calling as a religious? What is our calling as a group of religious? We then came together and sisters selected symbols to focus their sharing with the wider group. The discussion was marked by a strong sense of calling, the continuity of the initial vocation and an awareness of the development which has occurred in the life of each. We spoke of ‘the way’, ‘the journey’, the path of religious life.

After lunch we joined in a simple liturgy to remember sisters from the periods of our past history and in a particular way those sisters who have died since the last chapter.

The next session looked at Sandra Schneiders’ thoughts on how the ministry of religious congregations has evolved from the teaching, nursing etc institutions of the past, which made us visible and corporate in a particular way, through a time of working often in parishes and dioceses, to the current reality where there has been a great variety of ministry and where it has perhaps been less easy to see how these are connected. We used the four clusters that she suggested to see how they applied to our experience. These were social justice ministries, working with victims of injustice, the ministry of intellectuals, scholars and artists, and the ministry to those seeking spiritual growth and wholeness. Our questions were: What attracts you to this cluster? What gifts do you have for this particular ministry? What is the faith dimension that draws you to it or holds you in it? How do you understand this as Dominican? Which of the other clusters attract you?

We were struck by the way those who had chosen each cluster had such commitment and clarity about it. There was great affirmation for what different groups said. Each sister could find her place in the whole. We could appreciate the different aspects of our collective ministry and also feel that it was one and that every aspect belonged to all of us. There was a sense that no one ministry was more important than another; more than that, that none could exist without all the others.

We finished this session by singing ‘Meeting in this Circle’ from the 1998-99 Chapter. The words echoed our experience of the session we had just had.

In a short session before lunch we looked at religious life as a distinct life form, ‘Placeless’, ‘invisible’, ‘prophetic’, ‘ecclesial’ but not ecclesiastical. We considered together: What is the essence of religious life as a life form? What gives meaning to our lives? To what do we witness? To whom? How?

Discussion focused on the place of religious in the church. Vatican II did not squarely place us as either clergy or laity in the understood sense. Our identity comes primarily from the congregation not from the parish or diocese. We were reminded of the experience of sisters who had worked especially in parish structures. We reaffirmed the intrinsic value and distinctiveness of religious life itself.

Kevin and Mary Hepburn joined us for Mass at 5pm followed by a lovely catered meal.

On Sunday morning we met again to look towards the future. These were the questions we considered:

1. What can you imagine a re-configuring might look like that was not based on a fear of diminishment but was a true re-founding and visionary choice?

2. What new initiatives can you imagine that we might share with other religious and lay people?

The emphasis was on imagining freely and creatively what might be or could be without being held back by possible barriers.

Question 1. We looked at two major possibilities. One could be a re-founding with one or more groups of religious in New Zealand and the other doing the same with a Dominican group or groups in another part of the world, Australia, Ireland, the United States etc. We emphasised not so much our fears of a loss of identity as what we and another group might bring to a new and more vital expression of religious life. We found ourselves seeing this as more about religious life as such than about a specific ministry or ministries; it would be to preserve, celebrate, enhance and uphold this form of life. There are models where this has already happened. We would have a lot to bring and a lot to receive. We valued the way in which governance has developed in our congregation and the freedom that is ours; we would see these as part of our contribution to any new configuration. It would be important that from both sides such a journey would be approached with open hearts and a desire for life.

This is for us an untrodden path and we have no idea where it might take us. But if we were to embark on it, this would need to be begun while we have the energy for it. The time is now.

Question 2. The group that worked on shared and new initiatives had similar energy and enthusiasm. Some of these initiatives are already taking place. Asked the question, ‘What do you imagine? I would like to see…’ group members responded with: I’d like to see training for laity to preach at Mass and opportunities for them to do this on a regular basis. I would like to see communities for prayer and scripture up and down the country. Centres for prayer and meditation – for instance that the Moran Building become one such run by religious from different congregations with laity. I would like to see ecological centres both live-in and with room for people to drop in (maybe a recovery of the way of life of the Beguines). There is a hope that the visits of David and Donagh next year may give us opportunity to think of new avenues. There was a need to be proactive, to go head- and heart- hunting. The group was aware that they had focused on contemplation, meditation, preaching and scripture but understood that an outreach and ministry to human need would be a natural and inevitable response.

The weekend was enjoyable, lively, energetic, positive, unifying.


Christmas message from Fr. DAVID M. KAMMLER OP

« … Show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus! »

(“Salve Regina ”)

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Dominic, Text Box: Icon: Wisdom of Preachers

Mary, seat of Wisdom, is presenting to us her son.

This icon, some years ago, had been specially prepared for the Lay Dominicans of Slovakia when searching for spiritual illumination in their ongoing process of formation. What a wonderful idea of personal and community meditation! We can become real preachers, presenting Jesus to our contemporaries, only when in advance and forever new we have conceived the Word of Life in our womb. “Contemplate truth and share with others the fruits of this contemplation”: this is one of the most familiar traditional mottos describing our typical Dominican vocation.

The Dominican Jubilee Novena theme of 2013:

“Do unto me according to your Word” (Lk 1:38) – Mary: Contemplation and Preaching of the Word reminds us of the roots of evangelization. It is a permanent “Annunciation” when, by meditation and contemplation, we open ourselves from the deepest focus of our hearts to God’s Word. It is designed to inspire us by the Holy Scriptures, the teaching and theological reflection of the Church, the common “sense of the faithful” and, not least, by the deciphering of the “signs of our time”.

May the coming year – my last one serving as Promoter General of Dominican Laity for a six-year tenure – unite us in this process of evangelization. On the way to our Order’s special Jubilee in 2016, let us look at our “sister in faith” Mary our Mother, following her example of conceiving Christ and presenting Him with open hands and arms to the world!

Happy Christmas and a Blessed New Year 2013 !

Your brother in contemplating and sharing the Word of Life with others

David M. Kammler OP


Advance Notices:

Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP, former Master of the Dominican Order and well-known for his wisdom and spiritual insight, will visit New Zealand in September 2013. He will be here for a Priests’ Assembly, but has agreed to give two public talks, one in Auckland and one in Wellington . More about this later!

And don’t forget:

Also in September 2013, Fr Donagh O’Shea OP, preacher and spiritual director, will be in New Zealand for a month, travelling to a place near you! If you are interested in helping organise a session with Bro Donagh near you, let us know and we shall pass it on to the organisers.


See Fr Peter Murnane’s journal from the island of Giza at As we approach Christmas and the summer holiday season, these words of an early Irish scholar may give us a thought to keep us going:

Christ wears ‘two shoes’ in the world: Scripture and nature. Both are necessary to understand the Lord, and at no stage can creation be seen as a separation of things from God.

John Scotus Eriugena

A Blessing of Angels as we prepare for Christ’s birth

May the Angels in their beauty bless you.

May they turn towards you streams of blessing

May the Angel of Awakening stir your heart

To come alive to the eternal within you,

To all the invitations that quietly surround you.

May the Angel of Healing turn your wounds

Into sources of refreshment.

May the Angel of Compassion open your eyes

To the unseen suffering around you.

May the Angel of the Christ Child

Fill you and your families with peace and joy.

(With apologies to John O’Donohue)

Mike Kelly and Jenny Wilson

Co-ordinators Ph 06 370 2084 Email: