THE DOMINICAN SISTERS OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA

(OP) 1899

The Dominican Sisters, led by Mother Mary Gabriel Gill, arrived in Greenough, a tiny hamlet in a farming area in Western Australia, in June 1899. Thirty years before this, Mother Gabriel had left Ireland with a small group of Sisters to set up a Dominican foundation in New Zealand. Now, accompanied by five sisters, she answered Godís call again; this time to go to distant Western Australia to spread his word in the isolation of the far-flung Diocese of Geraldton.

The pioneer Sisters faced a harsh and forbidding environment, so different from the cool, green countries they knew. Nevertheless, in the area in which they began and as they travelled to the isolated communities in the goldfields of the Central West of the State, they carried with them the clear vision of their vocation - to contemplate Godís word and hand it on to others.

With each new challenge the Dominican Sisters adapted the style and delivery of their Ministry to meet the changing needs of the local community. As years went by they provided that Ministry in the city as well as in more isolated areas, the Sisters continuing their dedication to promoting faith and education.

Today, the Dominican sisters of Western Australia remain true to their vocation of contemplation and teaching. They support communities throughout Western Australia teaching in schools, counselling, visiting the sick and elderly, providing retreat and prayer opportunities, working in parishes and joining with other Congregations who look after the needs of the marginalized in our society. Dominican spirituality is timeless, relevant to all ages and recognised by its breadth of spirit and joyfulness of heart.

The Congregation of Dominican Sisters of Western Australia is one of the four members of the National Federation of Dominican congregations operating in every state of Australia. Each congregation is autonomous and seeks to promote the call to mission of the Dominican Sisters in the Church and the world.

The Dominican Sisters in Western Australia are now a small group of women who belong to a very large family but the motto of the Order is still "to contemplate and give to others the fruits of that contemplation". To find new and creative ways of living this call to the end of our days is an on-going challenge for all Dominicans. In contemporary terms we are challenged to:

"dare to walk intellectually on oneís own feet,

to enter into deep personal communication with others in community,

to experience the joy and delight in discovering the unity of the True,

the Good and the Beautiful in God."

(Timothy Radcliffe, Master of the Dominican Order)

In an age when all of religious life is shedding one period of history and trying to be a leaven in another, we find ourselves in very different ministries from those of former times. Those who are ageing find the call to deeper contemplation attractive and engaging and as one Dominican writer sees it, "Simply coming to view life through the heart of God and thus seeing the world as God sees it."

The Sisters see their call now to let go of primary responsibility for institutions and continue their work wherever they are called in the spirit of their founder Dominic, unobtrusively immersed in their world and seeing it as good.

McEvoy, William Vincent The Dominican Nuns in Australasia: A story of heroic constancy.

Abbot, L. The History of the Dominican Sisters in W.A. 1963.

Thesis - Graylands Teachersí College.

Rowland, John. The Donegan Convent Cemetery. 1996.

McCarthy, M.A. Star in the South: The Centennial History of the New Zealand Dominican Sisters, Dunedin. 1970.

 

If further information is required about individual Sisters the following address is given:

The Archivist

Dominican Sisters

St.Catherineís Convent

33 Williamstown Rd.,

Doubleview WA 6018

In writing to the Archivist, it would be appropriate that a financial contribution be made for the Archivistís time and expertise.

Religious Orders or Congregations have released the details on their members. It is understood that the copyright of any material (including the listing of the names of the Sisters) relevant to a particular Order or Congregation in this publication remains with the relevant Order or Congregation.