As Stars for All Eternity

Address to parents on July 17, 2013

With the feast of Our Holy
Father St. Dominic around the corner I wish to begin my talk tonight by
recalling the shining example he gave to us his daughters, which we endeavour
to follow in the education of your children.

At his baptism, Saint Dominic’s
godmother saw a star shining on his forehead, symbolising the light and
guidance he would give to the world.

Part of our school’s mission,
as stated in the handbook, is to prepare “the Catholics of the future” who will
“lead their fellow citizens to the Church and to eternal life.” Like Saint
Dominic, they must be stars helping sailors to find their way at sea.

A star attracts by its beauty
and guides by its position. We want our girls’ lives to shine with the virtues
and traditions that are lost to the modern world, and we want their souls to be
fully oriented towards God, the pole around which all must revolve, so as to
guide others to Him.
This is how they will be stars, like Saint Dominic, to guide the

Among the traditions which the
world often disregards are languages, music and the feminine skills of sewing
and cooking. Learning different languages reminds the girls that they are part
of the Catholic, which means universal, Church by giving them a connection with
other members of the mystical body both in heaven and on earth.  For example, on their trip to New Caledonia
this year the IGCSE French class were able both to sing Gregorian chant in
Latin, now seldom heard even in Catholic countries, and also to speak French
with other traditional Catholics. 

Through monitoring our pupils’
book-work and diary keeping, and by activities such as the upcoming cooking and
craft competitions we encourage the girls to develop the skills necessary to
create an ordered, bright and beautiful home, the building block of society, which
depends on the mother for its survival. We want the girls to take pride in
their work, to be able to organise themselves and keep things in order, to use
their imagination and sense of beauty to make a happy home for themselves and
others. We are also working towards fostering responsibility, generosity and
selflessness among the girls through the exercise of
team spirit, leadership and co-operation in these inter-house
competitions.  Membership in the Children
of Mary Sodality and participation in its various activities will also help in
this regard.

We do need to find the balance
between the physical and the spiritual, the formation of the body and the
soul.  We have two netball teams entered
in the inter school competitions this year and the girls are on a fitness
regime each lunch time.  The girls are
coming second in their respective grades which is a good achievement.  We have also had inter-house competitions in
netball and tabloid sports this year so the body is not being neglected.

opportunity for physical exercise for the girls is the yearly summer camp. It
is of course also a part of their spiritual formation and it is because we are
emphasising the importance of generosity and zeal that a
missionary theme has been chosen for the camp and some of our upcoming
inter-house competitions.  This year also
marks the 175th anniversary of Catholicism in New Zealand so it all
ties in perfectly.  The visits of the
respective sights where Bishop Pompallier worked and lived will put into
perspective what each one of them has been learning about him in class and help
them to trace the roots of their faith in their beautiful homeland. 

We have also chosen St Kateri
Tekakwitha as our patroness as she was a young woman who modelled the virtues
of love of God and neighbour, humility, obedience, patience, purity, and the
spirit of sacrifice.  Like Father
Bochkoltz said in his sermon on Sunday “We need the spirit of sacrifice in our
youth to change the world”.  We hope that
through the talks and activities on camp the girls will further develop these
qualities.   A lot of work is put into making
the camp an occasion of many graces, so the girls should be encouraged to come and
should make every effort to avail themselves of this opportunity.  We have arranged for the camp to be straight
after school ends, so all the girls should be able to attend, including those
from outside of Wanganui.  There are many
places that do not have such a grace, and we hope that the girls appreciate the
time and effort given by the priests and sisters for this event which is geared
solely towards their character formation. 
For your information the camp costs can be covered by chocolate selling so
money should not be an issue and the worries of too much travelling can be
allayed as the majority of the camp will be spent at our camp site at Thames in
the Coromandel area.

As Mother Mary Micaela constantly
tells us, we must always go forward.
where are we heading in the future…

To start off I would just like
to give you an update from our novitiate in Tynong, Australia.  Currently we have 5 postulants, 4 canonical
novices and 2 second year novices who are all working towards gaining an
internationally recognised teaching qualification through our very own
teachers’ college which we have been able to establish there – the only
Traditional Catholic Teachers’ College in the world.  This has been a miraculous achievement and
will be very beneficial for the future; already we have postulants lined up for
next year, including our first very own “kiwifruit” from the school, Miss Smith.
Last month
we had a young lady from America stay to help us for a month and today, a 15 year old Swiss girl arrived to spend six weeks with us improving
her English. She is a pupil at a Dominican School in France. Like our voyage to
New Caledonia, this is an opportunity for the girls to learn the reality of the
Communion of Saints: that Catholics everywhere are one body and share a common
culture, expressed in different ways.

We have more
boarders coming next year which means we will have to apply for a formal  Boarding House license,
whereas so far, we have only been able to offer what they call “homestay” accommodation.

English is being improved in
both schools by the introduction of a more thematic approach at the junior
levels. This approach incorporates the study of poetry, novels, and plays
chosen for the noble ideas and examples of virtue expressed therein. Grammar,
spelling and writing are studied not in isolation, but in relation to these
literary texts and themes. This summer, Sister Mary Jacinta will visit the Dominican
Sisters at Post Falls, Idaho and the Society school at St Mary’s, Kansas, to
tap into their curriculum and take what is useful from them to incorporate into
our methods here. 

Next year, we also hope to
introduce compulsory summer reading to increase the pupils’ desire for this
pastime.  We endeavour to give the girls
more ideas of suitable leisure activities as it is evident that some of them
are spending too much time in front of the television and computer screen,
which is not only harmful for the brain but also inculcates false ideals and
bad examples—thus undoing the work we are trying to accomplish with the English
curriculum and in fact, through all of our teaching.

Another landmark in our English
programme is that we have entered the Form 3’s and 4’s in the National Spelling
Bee and were informed last week that two girls have made the regionals, which
will take place in Wellington on August 19th.

Father Fullerton pointed out on his recent visit that
music is an important element of a child’s formation. On her recent trip to the
States, Mother Mary Rose spoke with Dr Childs of St Mary’s in Kansas, gathered
resources and is working towards reforming our Music curriculum. The new
curriculum will be run throughout the primary and secondary schools to
encourage the pupils to better their musical abilities, both in singing and in
playing musical instruments. It will also include the study of the history of

Mother Mary  Rose is hoping to have little concerts at the
end of each term for the pupils to perform in, and is working on increasing their
repertoire of religious and folk songs to give the girls an appreciation of beautiful
a first step, a St Dominic’s College choir has been formed this year of
Sisters, pupils and ex pupils. We have also had our annual music competition
which as always was much enjoyed by the judge, Mrs Ennis, as well as by pupils,
parents and staff.
Many pupils also choose to be involved in external music lessons and
activities, and among them this year one is competing for a music
scholarship and another will perform in a Piano Competition tomorrow.  The girls will also be visiting the Broadview
Rest home early August to sing some of the folk songs that they have learnt this
year to the elderly.

We are also working on other
subject areas. We intend to continue entering our students in the US National
Latin Exam, which our girls sat for the first time this year, with two
receiving gold medals, one silver, and several commendations. We are looking
into purchasing new geography books with a focus on God’s physical world, the
science department has received a $200 grant for new equipment, and a
benefactor has kindly offered to pay for some Sisters to travel overseas during
our holidays to receive help from the Dominican Sisters there in their
particular fields.   

         Bishop Moran, who brought the
first Dominican Sisters to New Zealand in 1871, wanted them “to enrich the
people, in the midst of the ephemeral, constantly changing patterns of life
today, with the religious and cultural life of the old world, and encourage
them to hold fast to the traditions which have proved so valuable in the past.”
Like him, we want our children to learn the faith and the cultural traditions
of their ancestors which are even less appreciated today than in the 19th
century. We are searching far and wide for traditional materials—books, songs,
craft projects and more—which will help us to form souls in the traditional
spirit of the Catholic Church. In this way, they will be able to instruct the
rest of the world, and as the Holy Ghost said in Ecclesiastes, “Those who
instruct others to justice will shine like stars for all eternity.”  May St Dominic be our star and our guide and
make us his faithful daughters.