By Laurel Lanner | Posted: Wednesday August 2, 2017
On Thursday 3rd August, the Catholic schools in the Dunedin area which were founded by the Dominican Order, celebrate St Dominic’s feast day with a joint mass at Holy Name. The Dominican Sisters were the founding Order of one of the girls’ colleges that now make up Kavanagh.
St Dominic was born in Spain in the twelfth century. At the time, Albigensianism was a popular alternative to orthodox Christianity. They believed that matter was evil and was the creation of an evil god. They believed in a severely aesthetic lifestyle of poverty and physical discipline. Albigensians were also not keen on having children because they thought they would be bringing more evil matter into the world! By contrast, the representatives of the Church sent to preach to them seemed rich, indulgent and indolent. Dominic felt that only an authentic imitation of Christ would persuade people away from this joyless misunderstanding of Christianity.
Dominic said, “Zeal must be met with zeal, lowliness with lowliness, false sanctity by real sanctity, preaching lies by preaching truth.” The truth, for Dominic, was Jesus and the justice, peace, hope and love that He showed. Dominic believed that Jesus must be studied and ultimately worn like a garment; when we clothe ourselves in Jesus, we live out truth. The Order that Dominic founded was called the Order of Preachers because preaching the truth about Christianity, educating both clergy and laity, was the primary charism of the Order.
If you would like to find out more about the Dominican Sisters, a very readable and interesting history with a lot of local input has been published this year by Otago University Press. A copy has been acquired for the school library.
Windows on a Women’s World: The Dominican Sisters of Aotearoa New Zealand by Susannah Grant (Dunedin: Otago University Press, 2017).