Dear members of the New Zealand Dominican family
Some recent events:
Fr Chys McVey OP died 30 June in Santa Sabina, Rome – wonderful preacher, devoted to inter-Christian dialogue, spent most of his apostolic life in Pakistan, came to New Zealand in 2008. RIP.
Sr Veronica (Vero) Benetito OP, first Solomon Island sister, died 25 August, aged just 55. Vero was well known to many in New Zealand. RIP.
Sr Reginald OP died recently – a lifetime of dedication to the Dominican ideal and to education, and remained in touch with women she taught 50 years ago. RIP.
Congratulations on Jubilees: Sr Cecily Sheehy, Sr Jacqui Ryan, Fr Paul Rankin all celebrated recently. May they enjoy many more years of service to the Gospel!
Congratulations also to Mary Horn OP whose exhibition Pilgrimage appeared at St Kevin’s College from June to August. Interesting: a reviewer of the exhibition notes that her 17-year-old daughter “who is not ‘into’ Christianity… remarked that she felt a strong presence in the room and felt as if she had been there before”.
3-28 May 2010 Dominican Heritage Tour – 3 weeks pursuing our Dominican heritage in Rome, Florence, Siena, Bologna, Toulouse, Fanjeaux, Prouilhe, Calaruega, Osma,
Brussels, Cologne, Galway, Dublin. Accompanied by Fr Kevin Toomey and Sr Elizabeth OP.
Brochures available. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
31 October in Palmerston North we shall celebrate (a couple of days early!) the feast of St Martin de Porres – great lay Dominican saint of the southern hemisphere. People of the Palmerston North diocese will be invited to join us to hear a little about St Dominic, and St Martin, and to thank God for the gifts of these and so many other Dominicans through the ages. Venue: Diocesan Centre; Time: 1.00 to 4.00pm
DON’T FORGET: The very first gathering of lay Dominicans in New Zealand. 30 April-2 May 2010. It will be in Wellington – exact venue still to be decided. This is the time for lay Dominicans to pick up the challenge laid down by generations of friars and sisters in New Zealand and begin the process of finding our way of continuing to bring the gift of Dominic and Catherine to our society. Put it in your diary now!
Lay Dominican in Auckland, Teresa McNamara, is a woman of many talents. Among other things, she is involved in a group for young adult Catholics. Soul is a group that has some surprising outreach. Here is Teresa’s story:
Soul: Catholics in their 20s and 30s from Auckland’s Inner City Sharing Our Understanding and Love through spiritual development, community service and social activities
When Mike asked me to write about my role as co-ordinator of Soul I immediately questioned him “why?” After all it’s not a group with any links to the Dominican family. His response was simple … it’s an example of what a member of the New Zealand Dominican family is involved with. OK Mike – here goes!
Soul is a group for those in their 20s and 30s in the Inner City of Auckland. We offer activities in three broad areas: spiritual development, community service and social gatherings.
It all started one night towards the end of 2005 at a youth group meeting for those aged 13 to 17 at my house. I looked around and over half the people there were in their 20s. When I asked why they were here they responded, “Oh Teresa the Church offers nothing for us except Sunday Mass”. I was quick to respond that there was any number of Diocesan level activities such as a monthly Youth Mass. They reminded me “you don’t get to know people by going to Mass”. They wanted that community element of our faith. We decided we needed a new group.
So it was in February 2006 that 18+ was born ~ a group for those aged 18 to 25. As with all new groups there were “ups” and “downs”. There were nights when there were 10 or 15 people present and others when there were just two of us! That year I had numerous conversations with God asking for a clear indication as to whether this group should continue. On Boxing Day of 2006 I got the answer I had been looking for; I received photos by email of the group members who had no family in New Zealand. They had organised their own “family gathering” by way of a Christmas Day Picnic. It was then that I knew we had established our own family of sorts.
We have a small group of regulars who meet with me once a quarter to plan out our activities. In each quarter we offer activities in the three areas mentioned above.
Regular spiritual nourishment includes a weekly bible reflection group, quarterly discussion evenings, monthly attendance at the Auckland Diocesan Youth Mass and Theology on Tap. For those who don’t already know, Theology on Tap started in Chicago in 1981 and has spread all over the United States and to other parts of the world. Essentially the goal is to provide young adults with an opportunity to explore issues and topics that relate to the Catholic faith in a fun and casual environment. Talks can be by priests, religious or lay speakers. The main goal is to encourage thoughtful discussions and a deeper understanding of our faith. Between 60 and 80 people take over the “Muddy Farmer” pub in Auckland’s inner city on the first Sunday of each month. However we have had a couple of sessions when it has been standing room only with over 100 in attendance! Speakers at our Auckland sessions have ranged from Fr Peter Murnane OP who shared what motivated him to take action at the Waihopai Spy Base to Bishop Patrick Dunn who shared his experience of World Youth Day 2008. Bishop Pat returns to speak in August 2009, this time about his priestly vocation. Topics are often connected to the Church year as when Sr Josephine Gresham from the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary spoke on “Mary’s message for the 21st Century” in May this year. Don’t let me give you the impression that we only hear from priests and religious. Helen Kenealy spoke about how she balances life as a young married woman and a busy doctor with the pro-life teachings of the Catholic Church and James Bergin shared his evangelisation of the Catholic faith using a computer!
Our community outreach has some regular components such as assisting the families at Monte Cecilia Housing Trust. Our initial involvement was to collect items for the families. Last Christmas, the group hand-made a beautiful Christmas angel for each family together with lots of star decorations that could be hung from the ceiling. 2009 has seen us spend time at Monte Cecilia. This has taken two forms. One of our members offered weekly dance classes to mothers and children and a larger group of our members are now setting aside a Saturday morning from time to time to play games and do other activities with the children.
Another regular component of our community outreach is for a small number of our group to attend a monthly Catholic service at Mt Eden Prison. We gather with the prisoners to listen to the readings of the day. We share songs, stories and prayers. Usually someone will give a homily of sorts and some of us may share our thoughts on the readings. Never did we imagine that prison ministry would be something that we could do but God has presented this opportunity to us and never do we wish that we hadn’t gone. We learn so much from the prisoners and the guards who attend the service and without exception we feel utterly blessed by God as we walk out through the prison gates.
In addition to the regular activities we respond to the call of individuals in the group such as “let’s make soup for the night shelter”, “let’s go help plant trees on Motutapu Island” or “how about we help some of our needy parishioners with household chores and gardening”.
The third and final area for Soul Group is social activities. Like all families we love a party … or a BBQ, a trip to the beach etc. We have some regular activities on the agenda such as movie night at Chris’s place, an annual mid-winter Christmas party and tramps with the Auckland Catholic Tramping Club. What better way for our overseas visitors to really experience New Zealand? We are always on the lookout for new activities and this year have started Spanish classes in preparation for World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid. We opened up the classes to all parishioners and have a wonderful mix of people from young (12) to older (60+). It has been a great way for some of our members to get to know a wider range of parishioners.
So why does this article come to be in a Lay Dominican newsletter? I grew up at St Ben’s and it wasn’t until after the Dominican Friars left that I realised just how “Dominican” I was. It was the influence of the Dominican Friars and Sisters Clare Timpany and Mary-Anna Baird that taught me the importance not only of prayer and contemplation but also of putting my faith into practice in daily life and sharing this with the community around me. It is the four pillars of the Dominican life (prayer, study, community and preaching) that I loosely base our Soul Group programme on. Above all else Soul Group is a family – a welcoming community for kiwis and those who are presently working or studying in Auckland. If you know someone who would like to join please email me (Teresa.McNamara@xtra.co.nz) or invite them to join Soul Group on Facebook
Contributed by Teresa McNamara
Bro Carlos A Azpiroz Costa OP, Master of the Order, has written just the one official Letter during his term as Master. It is a moving piece, directed to his brother friars but he expressly invites people from all parts of the Dominican family to take from his words what they can apply to their own lives and mission.
Rather than add the letter to this newsletter, we invite you to click on to the international Dominican website, http://curia.op.org/en/. You may find all sorts of interesting things there, including the Master’s letter – “You are all brothers”.
Blessings to you all.
Mike Kelly and Jenny Wilson
PO Box 346 Masterton
Ph 06 370 2084