By Marilyn Kerjean
Up to 1880 about 1.3 million people, 400,000 of them Irish, set out from Great Britain on horrendous journeys in fragile sailing ships, hoping to make a better life for themselves in the new colonies that
would become Australia.
Among them were eight young Irish Dominican Sisters who came across the seas to make a better life not for themselves, but for the uneducated children of the little diocese of
That was in September 1867.
Their mission was to spread the gospel flame that burned within their hearts.
Spreading the Gospel Flame, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow was the theme of
the Dominican Sisters’ fourth general chapter, held at Santa Sabina College, Strathfield recently.
“It’s a time to take stock of our work and life together and set new directives for the next four years,”
said Sr Patricia Madigan OP.
Traditionally the Dominican Sisters’ ministry has been the education of the young.
But, through necessity, they have expanded into areas such as school administration,
university lecturing, pastoral care and interfaith dialogue.
The chapter directives demonstrate the Sisters’ desire to develop the internal life of their congregation as well as to reach out in pastoral care
and social justice initiatives here and overseas.
The launch of Up she gets, for up she must! was a highlight of the chapter.
It is an account of that historic journey from Kingstown, Ireland, to
Maitland so long ago, compiled from the diary entries of one of those original sisters by Sr Elizabeth Hellwig OP.
At the close of the chapter, Sr Rosemary Lewins was elected to be prioress for the next four
years and Srs Rose Kinne, Maura McAvoy, Jenny Gerathy and Karen Feldt were elected for the new council.