Out of the Winter Silence

The solemn and fog-like silence that has settled over the Wanganui
community through the bleak winter months may have lead some of our readers to
imagine that the sisters in New Zealand had decided to hibernate during this
cold season. Though it was tempting, this has not been the case. Our
taciturnity has been more due to over-action
than inaction. We have been as busy
as…summer bees…in winter! But now that the long-awaited holidays are here, we
have time to take a leisurely look back over the past season and recount for
you some of its main events.
The first month of winter was fairly uneventful; that is, it
certainly held events like mid-year examinations, piles of marking, mounds of
report writing and torrents of inquiries from the pupils as to whether or not
they had passed – but these are all standard events. We were proud to see some
of the pupils who had put in their best during the first half of the year have
their efforts rewarded with academic ties which were distributed at one of our
Monday morning assemblies. 
From there we quickly pass on to July, a month which marked
a special page in the life of the Children of Mary Sodality here in Wanganui:
its ten year anniversary. Such a milestone had to be given a special
celebration, behind which there was much planning, preparation and cooperation. 
Almost all members of the sodality were able to gather together at a local hall for an evening of memories, games, songs, fun and feasting. May Our Lady continue to watch over her children and the good work they do in our parish.
June, July…August came next! And August can only mean one
thing: Saint Dominic’s Day. Many a
sister surely had been keeping in mind that well-known truism of Mother General’s:
If you can survive until Saint Dominic’s
Day, you can survive the rest of the year.
The great feast day, and the
encouraging fact that we had survived to see it, was heralded not by trumpets,
but by the sweet tone of our new bell, which was found for us in Europe by our
parish priest and fixed onto the exterior wall of the boarding school entrance
on the very eve of Saint Dominic’s feast day, so that its ringing (though at
that stage still a little uncoordinated, the bell-ringer yet in need of some
practice) for First Vespers announced that the feast day had arrived.

Like the Sisters at Rosary Convent, we too sang First
Vespers in the church with our pupils, the brothers and the officiating priest.
After the Rosary we headed back to the boarding school, to the quaint little
“alfresco” arrangement under the carport – the only space that was undercover
and large enough to seat the sisters, priests, brothers and approximately
thirty girls! The blue tarpaulin and fairy-lights gave it a pleasant atmosphere
and we there enjoyed our pizza, salads and dessert.

In remembrance of the thoughtful gift Saint Dominic made to
his sisters, our guests were bequeathed with small, personalised wooden spoons…though
they were to be kept more for their aesthetic and sentimental value than for
practical purposes…unlike St Dominic’s wooden spoons, we’re sure. He no doubt
didn’t have to tell his sisters, “Now don’t
use these spoons to eat with – they’re only souvenirs!”
as Mother had to several times remind the young (and not so young) recipients.
No Saint Dominic’s Day would be complete without the
traditional game of Spotlight, so after dinner the girls eagerly ventured out
into the dark field to see if they could find their way to the fortress (and
the chocolate treasure it held) without being identified and thrown into “jail”.
After a few more indoor games we ended the evening suitably by singing Compline
with the girls. On the actual day of the feast the sisters attended the school
Mass with the secondary boys and girls and afterwards entertained our tertiary
members, friends, benefactors and former pupils with a brunch, towards the
close of which the weather turned quite dismal. By the afternoon the rain had set
in well and truly and we were denied the satisfaction of what was sure to be a
sweet victory over the school netballers we had intended to play (and beat)
that afternoon. To this day the match has not yet taken place, being postponed
to an indefinite date; but fate cannot be avoided – sooner or later our opponents
will have to face their fears, and we will be sure to make known to our readers
the glad tidings of our victory as soon as it is in our possession. Thus, with
no netball game to raise our heart-rate and zap our energy, the feast day ended
with a tranquillity that, though uncustomary, was not unwelcome.
Fortunately most of our school girls had not yet succumbed
to the winter ills that were, and in fact still are, in circulation, for their
voices and high spirits were needed for the Inter-house Music Competition that
was held mid-August at the local Girls College hall. The three school houses
competed against one another in a competition that had Australia and New
Zealand as its theme. Each house had to present a team piece, a test piece and also
submit entries for the senior and junior instrumental categories. The judge
overall was impressed with the quality of the girls’ voices and their
musicianship, and the final results show how close the houses are in their
musical skills – the two houses Bologna and Prouille tied for first place,
while Calaroga was only just behind. 

But the evening of entertainment did not end there! After a
short intermission the Form 3 and 4 girls performed for their small audience
Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which was, in
spite of a few hiccups, giggles and lost lines, a pleasing success, making us
very proud of the fine abilities of the girls, and caused not a few of us to
start thinking about next year’s
It seemed that the whole school breathed a sigh of relief
after that concert, which had required so much planning and practice, and let
down its defence system, for the influenza hit us hard and the many casualties,
affecting the whole school, caused us to have to postpone the annual
fundraiser, once more a Bike-a-thon. A week later than the initial date, then, the
sisters and pupils who were still healthy jumped onto their bikes and peddled
in circles for an hour, in an attempt to help out our school finances. Those
who had per lap pledges were enthused to make as many laps as they could, and
also to try to beat last year’s record of laps – this year one of our year 10
girls made the record, achieving 111 laps in an hour, and still remaining
standing afterwards.
The Bike-a-thon marked the end of another lap of school, and
the beginning of the next part of the cycle – holidays. May God, Who has so
generously granted to us a busy and fruitful term, see fit to help sisters and
pupils alike rejuvenate and recreate ourselves so that we are fit and ready to
hop back on our bikes and cycle “onwards and upwards” in the last term of the

2 thoughts on “Out of the Winter Silence”

  1. Actually, all the nuns used to use wood spoons. Most monastic communities used wood spoons and forks, not just Dominicans!
    We used our wood spoons until just a few years ago when we got a dishwasher. However, each sister has hers and is free to use it if she wishes. We like them for soup!

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