Our History

Bishop Fellay presides at a ceremony of final Profession in Wanganui

The Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of Wanganui was founded to carry on the traditions established by St Dominic for the first Dominican nuns when he founded the convent of Our Lady of Prouille in 1206. These traditions were brought to Ireland in 1640, when the convent of Prouille made a foundation in Galway, Ireland. From there the Dominican nuns spread throughout Ireland, a particularly fruitful house being Cabra in Dublin, which sent foundations as far abroad as South Africa and the United States. From Cabra a convent was founded at Sion Hill, also in Dublin, and from Sion Hill ten Sisters came to New Zealand in 1871, settling in Dunedin which eventually became the motherhouse of the New Zealand Dominican Sisters.

In 1997 one of the New Zealand Dominican Sisters left her former convent and came to Wanganui with the desire to retain the traditional customs of Dominican life first brought to New Zealand by the Irish Sisters in 1871.

After some years of teaching here in the schools run by the Society of St Pius X, she was joined by two young ladies from Australia who hoped that a new congregation of Traditional Dominican teaching Sisters would be founded. On 8 December 2002 Bishop Fellay gave permission for the foundation of a new Congregation, the Dominican Sisters of Wanganui, with the status equivalent to a Congregation of Diocesan Right.

Since then other young women have joined the Dominican Sisters of Wanganui. At present, as of April 2023, there are 20 professed sisters and 2 postulants, representing New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, India, Canada, the United States of America, Argentina, Samoa and the Philippines.

Sisters praying at the grave of Father Moreau, who welcomed the first Dominicans onto New Zealand soil in Dunedin,
and who now lies in Wanganui soil (having left Dunedin for the Maori mission soon after the arrival of the Sisters).