Pilgrimage to the South Island: Day Four: Milton, Invercargill and Bluff

Early Thursday morning we set off for Milton on our way to
Invercargill. This was a most wonderful spot and was well worth the time we
spent there. We met an ex-pupil who is currently the secretary for the
Principal. Both were delighted to see us and it was wonderful to see that they
were trying to keep their Dominican heritage. There were pictures of St Dominic
up, as well as old pictures of the founding Sisters in the front foyer. We were
shown the old church which was used by the Sisters as a church/school and
included some old furnishings, as well as the new Church, which was dedicated
to the Immaculate Conception. Our guide gave us great delight as all the
stories from the past came back to her. She showed us the side chancel were the
Sisters used to hear Mass, the old confessional, the old convent and gave us
many insights into life as a pupil at that time. Apparently when working the
Sisters used to hoist their habits up and tuck them into their belts to keep
them from getting dirty and when Mother General came on visitation all the
students would line up to give her posies and for their efforts would get a day
off the next day.  All students were
amazed at the hard work done by the small communities of Sisters, some of whom
were only teenagers at the time – they taught, they prayed, they tended the
garden, they cleaned, they cooked, they organised fundraisers.
The Principal then asked us to visit the school so we made our way from
classroom to classroom, giving small talks, answering questions and singing
songs. We were most impressed with the children who were very polite, well
behaved and well receptive to us.

Next it was on to Invercargill where we first paid a visit to
Calvary Hospital to visit two Dominican Sisters still in habit – Sr Eugene O.P.
and Sr Gertrude O.P. A pleasant time was spent there singing songs and catching
up on news and then it was on to St Catherine’s Convent which unfortunately had
been turned into a student hostel. There were also two other Convents in
Invercargill – St Albert’s and St Bertrand’s but sadly they no longer exist.
Next it was on to Bluff where we paid a visit to St Mary Star of the Sea and
had a little adventure of our own. Owing to a lack of time and our need to be
back in Dunedin for evening Mass, we leisurely made a u-turn on a grassy patch
of field and unfortunately, forgetful of the added weight, the result was we
found ourselves stuck in the mud. To cut a long story short, a guardian angel
came in the form of a farmer driving a tractor, providentially with a big
chain, and we were rescued from our plight. We venture to say we left our mark
on Bluff.


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