The time of the vocations discernment retreat finally arrived after months of preparation! Sixteen young ladies came from various parts of New Zealand, Australia, and Tasmania. Parishioners had been generous in their loans of bedding, and even a house across the road was lent for the purpose of housing some retreatants (and a Sister to watch over them, of course!). All 16 girls were settled into the convent, a classroom made into a dormitory, or the house.
Fr Albert, O.P. had come from the snow in Minnesota, U.S.A., to the warmth of Wanganui to give this retreat on vocations to the religious life. Father’s conferences brought before the retreatants’ minds various topics including Divine grace in the soul, mental prayer, and the state of perfection. The young ladies got a taste of the teaching of St Thomas Aquinas from his Summa Theologicae and other great saints, in particular St Maximilian Kolbe.
It became, if we may say so, the fashionable devotion to go to the church of the Friar-Preachers after Compline to assist at the Salve, and many therefore were the witnesses of the heavenly apparitions which our chronicles describe.
“Eia ergo, advocata nostra…”
The Queen of Heaven was seen to descend into the choir, as the Friars came out in procession, and to place herself in the midst of them, and, as they sang the last words, O dulcis Virgo Maria, inclining at her sweet name, she blessed them and disappeared. . . . A devout woman of Lombardy…saw the Divine Mother assisting at the Office, and when the Friars said Spes nostra, salve, our Lady graciously returned the salutation, and at the words Eia ergo she interceded for them with her Son; and at those other words, Jesum benedictum, etc., she held out the Child Jesus to the Brethren, giving Him to each one of them to kiss; and then, blessing them, disappeared.” Our Blessed Mother surely must have smiled lovingly upon her children as they bade her goodnight.
“O dulcis Virgo Maria…”
Once the retreat was finished, Father Albert, a true son of St Dominic, preached a three-day Rosary mission for the parish. Each night he gave an instruction, led the praying of the Rosary with a meditation before each mystery, and preached a sermon.
And just like that it was time for Father to return to his duties in the U.S.A. We would like to thank him for all his hard work during his visit and pray that someday he may return!
Finally, we ask that you keep us in your prayers as we begin our annual retreat, which will be a preparation for two of our novices who will make their first temporary vows on January 6th. We wish you all a most blessed and happy Christmas!