Dominican Sisters Cabra Dominican Sisters Cabra Fri, 23 Jan 2015 14:25:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 An Tairseach, Dominican Farm and Ecology Centre Newsletter Fri, 23 Jan 2015 14:22:51 +0000 See An Tairseach, Dominican Farm and Ecology Centre, Wicklow – Newsletter Winter 2014

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Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (25th January) Thu, 22 Jan 2015 14:53:23 +0000 The nets were abandoned, the boats were abandoned, and even the father and the hired men were abandoned. So we read in today’s gospel account from Mark of the call of some of the disciples. What did the people think about this? Why did these young men just leave like that, walk off the job? It must have seemed quite irresponsible of them.

These boats and these nets were their livelihood, the tools of their trade, their economic stability. Yet we read they abandoned them. But what did they really abandon? While there is no doubt that they did fish again and that they used their boats again, there is also no doubt that the focus of their lives had been changed. They had chosen to set their feet on the path of Jesus to follow where his way would lead them.

More important and perhaps more difficult than changing their occupations was the challenge to change their perspective in all they would do. The call they heard was for abandoning a lot more than their boats and their nets.

This is the call to discipleship. It is not a call for any one select group of people, but for all who seek to follow after Jesus. Very few have the luxury of walking off the job to follow a new way of life. What we are all called to do is the follow a new way of life right on the job or the task of our lives.

We are indeed called to abandon the boats of our lives that through weakness can only ply the shoreline, and board instead For Web Sacred Spacethe sturdier craft that can launch out into the deep and troubling waters of life, where too many of our sisters and brothers drown in the diseases and poverty brought about by our insatiable greed. We are called to churn up the waters with our speed boats and jet skis and so disturb the underlying currents that control the systems that leave so many lives in turmoil and distress.

We are called by Jesus to abandon the nets of life that entrap us in the certainty of our perspectives, blinding us to other ways that God is manifested in our world. We are asked to abandon those nets of fear, of anxiety, of concern for the future. Those are the nets that immobilize and cramp us so that we cannot seize the potential of the present and grasp it with an energetic agility.

To be a vibrant part of the mission of Jesus, bringing the liberating word of God as a means of healing the brokenness of life, requires the abandonment of the boats and nets which keep us bound and broken. When we can do this, when we can expose our wounds to the balm of grace, then we surely have a word or deed of healing to offer.

Elizabeth Ferguson, OP

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Sr. Maeve McMahon speaks about her work in JUST (Jesuit University Support and Training Centre Tue, 20 Jan 2015 15:10:52 +0000 The Jesuit University Support and Training centre in Ballymun or JUST as it is more widely known was recently visited by six executives from the Higher Education Authority.  Invited by the Director of the Centre, Dr Kevin O’Higgins, following the recent publication of the report on access to education in disadvantaged areas, the executives wanted to hear how this Centre, which was opened in 2006 has managed in less than ten years to increase three fold (close to 10%) the numbers of local residents enrolled in third level programmes.

JUST which is located in the local Jobs Centre in Ballymun is in touch with the local community and its formula for success is that the volunteer staff, many of whom are retired teachers, offer a range of supports to those who wish to attend third level but also through supportive one to one relationships with the students already in enrolled in third level and throughout the years of their studies.

Sr Maeve McMahon OP joined the Centre in 2007.  As a Dominican and retired school Principal of St Leo the Great in NewMaeve+nun+new+orleans Orleans she is aware of how structural support in education is vital in disadvantaged areas to foster an interest in further education.  She believes that the “one to one relationship is very important to assist students with what can sometimes be a daunting process of entering third level”.

The JUST centre now has eight individuals working there, many of whom are Jesuits but all of whom have education experience either in 2nd or 3rd level.  It was started by the Jesuits who have a long history in Ballymun.   Sr Maeve feels that it also marries very well with the Dominican charism and approach to education, which sees the blend of seeking education and truth as a means of liberation.  So much so that the Dominican Sisters Cabra have committed an education fund to JUST. Sr Maeve has worked with wonderful people during her time there.  Starting out with 20 students, the Centre now has 100 and has supported 300 since its inception.  It has supported five young people who are pursuing PhDs and many others pursuing Mas.  The rest are preparing for or participating in undergraduate courses.

just_logoShe believes that access programmes in the major Universities have been vital but often the students also need support such as assistance with note taking and essay writing and this is where JUST plays an important role.  She explains that many of her students have come from families that have been affected by addiction and for this reason may also require support with other personal development skills to cope in difficult family situations.  She also helps many to connect with their spiritual side.   JUST also aims to address the general educational deficit of many students from an area like Ballymun who have never experienced an art gallery or cultural institution.  The centre facilitates cultural outings and also offers regular evening classes on diverse topics like philosophy and psychology.

Sr Maeve explains that “all human beings need to be feel that they are valued and need to be seen and heard” and that in Ireland we have failed as a nation because we have not honoured these basic Christian values.

Dr Kevin O’Higgins has asked the question of how the success of this programme can be replicated elsehwhere? The centre, because it relies predominantly on volunteers and rents inexpensive facilities, has neither sought nor received state funding.   And this is the conversation that Dr O’Higgins has commenced with the HEA.  The programme taps into the whole ethos of volunteering in Ireland and could be rolled out with larger volunteer organisations like the GAA or where there is a bank of retired teachers who are willing to help.

Sr Maeve believes that structurally in Ireland within the education system, we have serious problems.  She draws on a wonderful school model she has seen in the United States called the Cristo Rey network, which was also started by the Jesuits and is the largest network of urban high schools in the country enrolling only youth from low income families.  It offers an approach to inner-city education that equips students with the knowledge, character and skills to remove them from a cycle of poverty.  This school network now has 100% enrolment into further education and the key to its success has been 24/7 support to the students if and when they need it.    Dr Kevin O’Higgins is a strong proponent of this model and believes that it can be replicated in Ireland.

Sr Maeve does not expect JUST to expand further in terms of the number of students receiving support because of her fear that the one on one support would then be lost.  However, the overall vision is to continue to offer an opportunity to people who have found life hard to have freedom and a realisation of their own potential through education.

Sr Maeve lived through a challenging time herself in the United States in the aftermath of Hurricane Kathrina which temporarily closed St Leo the Great.  She believes that life is a task master and will create its demands but it is attitude that can make a difference in attempting to make the world a better place and she has seen this spirit alive in JUST.

She also believes that every human has an inner flame and we are entitled for this inner flame to be alive so that we can all reach our full potential.  It is clear when Sr Maeve talks about her return from the United States and her chance conversation with a Jesuit about the need for volunteers in JUST, that her inner flame continues to shine brightly in the field of education.

For more information about JUST, please visit

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Sr. Veronica McCabe OP speaks of her work in the community in Cherry Orchard Thu, 15 Jan 2015 12:25:15 +0000 Many Dominican Sisters work in pastoral care in the community.  Sr Veronica McCabe OP is one such Sister working in Cherry Orchard.

Sr Veronica has worked in the Cherry Orchard locality for over 4 years.  She believes that having a presence in the community and relating to local people is the most important thing that the Dominican Sisters can do in the area.Sr Ronnie McCabe

There are now two Dominican Sisters living in Cherry Orchard in Dublin 10 which is classed as high on the disadvantage scale.  The unemployment level amongst the youth of the area is one of the highest in the country and the community has been adversely affected by anti-social behaviour.  Sr Veronica’s work is as part of the Parish team which consists of three priests, a lay pastoral worker and herself.  In her role, she is responsible for co-ordinating liturgical ministries and is also responsible for adult faith development and community outreach through pastoral visitation. She believes that Faith is very strong amongst the community.  She runs Meditation & Gospel Reflection groups and looks after the parish newsletter and website.

Pastoral visitation gives Sr Veronica the opportunity to meet and establish relationships with local people who may have been affected by bereavement, illness or who in general are finding life hard and who can benefit from having the opportunity to talk through their circumstances with someone who cares and can offer support.  She explains that she wants to be close to the source of community problems and issues and has much experience of this type of work.

Prior to completing a Masters in Pastoral Ministry in New York over an 18 month period, she worked in the St Dominic’s parish in Tallaght as a remedial teacher in a local boy’s school and, subsequent to the period in New York, as a pastoral worker in the same parish.   In these roles she provided support to many local families. A particular aspect of her work was in regular visits to the local people who were in prison in Dublin and Portlaoise and in linking-in with their families.  She has also participated in a helpline for families of prisoners for a period.  While a member of the Congregation leadership team she has travelled extensively in South America and South Africa and has been horrified by the many injustices she has seen but has also witnessed the strength and resilience of the people she has met.

Sadly, efforts to establish local community groups in Cherry Orchard have been a challenge.  Sr Veronica believes that this is because there is now a strong level of disillusionment amongst residents who have turned away from community groups. The locals have seen little or no improvement in area over the last number of years and therefore encouraging them to attend groups can be difficult.   However, Sr Veronica is hopeful that a recently established group which is a restorative forum based on a similar approach to restorative justice can make a difference.

This Forum is unique in that it involves a new way of consulting with local people. It focuses on ensuring that all voices are heard so that issues facing the community can be fully understood by all and will be facilitated by Jim McGrath who specialises in this area. It is a way that all local organisations can get together in partnership with the people they are working with and that everyone in the room will have an equal voice.  Some of the issues that will be addressed by the Forum include unemployment, the local environment, anti-social behaviour and facilities and services.  Sr Veronica describes it as seeking solutions together rather than a “them and us” which has been the approach used elsewhere.

Despite the level of disillusionment, there has been some change in the area.  This includes the development of a new school, St Ultan’s, that has a care unit for babies and a homework club for older children.  It’s a unique approach and Sr Veronica believes that this too can have a positive influence across the area.  However, one of the most positive developments has been the “Bungalow” which was started by the Daughters of Charity.  It is a family resource centre and it is very much at the heart of the community.  It offers an outlet to the local community in terms of personal development and various other courses and there is also a Men’s Shed group.  Outreach workers visit local households to encourage participation.

Sr Veronica takes every opportunity to be visible in the neighbourhood and gets involved in initiatives like street clean-ups. inclusionShe has also organised and participated in “Embracing Inclusion” which was a six week programme designed by the Parish of the Travelling People to promote understanding between Travellers and Settled People. For six weeks about 40 people met in the local church and shared experiences and quickly realised that they are all coping with the same “life” issues such as raising children, coping with bereavement and illness.  The group explored how they could cope with difference and how prejudice affects all.  Since then some of the group travelled on a pilgrimage with the Parish of the Travelling People to St Winifred’s Well in Wales and some local Travellers have become involved in Cherry Orchard church as Readers and Eucharistic Ministers.

In her role, she assists families with preparation for communion and confirmation and has also been involved in facilitating pre-marriage courses.  She facilitates the monthly meetings of the Parish Pastoral Council.  In the future, she would rather see children opt to undertake the sacraments as she believes the present system is often a charade and little more than a social occasion for many families.

One of Sr Veronica’s strong interests is in promoting the role of women in the church.  She sees women as having a very second-class role in practically every aspect of church life and ministry and wants to see major and urgent change in this area.

Sr Veronica is inspired by people like Nelson Mandela and Oscar Romero because they have overcome great difficulties in their own lives.  St Catherine of Siena and St Dominic have inspired her to follow the Dominican way while Jesus Christ is the source of happiness and contentment that keeps her going.  Sr Veronica is a keen tweeter and her many thoughts of the day can provide inspiration to all of us.  Her twitter name is @vmccabe.


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Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (18 January) Thu, 15 Jan 2015 09:59:41 +0000 What an amazing set of readings we are offered today, on this second Sunday of the year, and the first after all the Christmas festivities! We have been intensely focused on the mystery of God’s incarnation in the person of Jesus, and of Jesus’ acceptance of the God within as the guide to his mission and life. What do we do with all that? How do we leave it and switch gears to the routine? Perhaps, we don’t leave it. Today’s readings act as a transition to the purpose of the rest of the year, for they invite us to move from pondering the picture to becobinocularsme an active part of the scene.

Call, curiosity and wise discernment are keystone notions in the reading from 1Samuel and the Gospel of John. The boy Samuel responded promptly to the call he hears, but he responded in the wrong place. The old man Eli knew that the call was not from him. He also knew that the call was not through him. He was wise enough to know that God had no need to send messages through him to the boy. He was also wise enough to know that the boy, Samuel, could respond directly to God and could converse with God without his help. So Eli directed him to do just that.

John, the other wise man that we meet today, was not a collector of disciples. He knew his role was to point out Jesus and to point others in that direction. It was because of John that Andrew and the other disciple approached Jesus. But they also came out of curiosity and with their own questions. When Jesus saw them approaching he asked them what they were looking for. They responded with their own question, “Where do you stay?” We know that they were not interested in lodgings. This is more like their asking Jesus, “Where do you hang out?” Jesus invited them, “Come, see where I hang.” So they went and spent the day there with him.

The first thing Andrew did after the afternoon with Jesus was to find his brother and share his convictions with him. What did these disciples see that day, as they hung out with Jesus, that got them excited that they had a need to tell others. Perhaps they saw Jesus heal the sick, touch a leper, socialize with the sinner.  Perhaps they saw him feed the hungry, preach a word to challenge the ‘righteous’ and to comfort the outcast. Perhaps they saw him rest and pray and disturb both when someone had a need. From the pattern of Jesus’ life portrayed in the Gospel, we can surely assume that they saw some of this and more. When Jesus beckons, “Come, and see” there is a lot to see.

The phrase itself has been somewhat hijacked by religious communities and diocesan organization to promote membership for themselves. It is good to remember the original context and know that when we invite people to “come and see”, it is important to understand that we are inviting another to come and see where Jesus is and to be willing to be there ourselves. Anything less does not warrant a “come and see” invitation. Following the call to come and see will bring us to many eye-opening and soul-opening experiences.

Elizabeth Ferguson, OP

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Sr. Maria Hanna OP has been honoured as Catholic of the Year Wed, 14 Jan 2015 12:29:29 +0000 Sr. Maria Hanna, an Iraqi Dominican Sister of St Catherine of Siena has been named one of the Outstanding Catholic Leaders of the Year 2014 by Our Sunday Visitors Newsweekly.m hanna

This is in recognition of her role in saving many Iraqi Christians and minorities during the darkest days of the ISIS invasion of Iraq.

The rest of the Dominican Family continue to give their support and journey with the Iraqi Sisters in prayer. At the dawn of this New Year a delegation of 3 Sisters from the Dominican Sisters Conference, USA are presently visiting the Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena in Iraq in solidarity and to aid their efforts. Let us continue to pray for the success of that visit and for continued courage and perseverance.

Read the full article on  Dominican Sisters International

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Baptism of Jesus (11 January) Fri, 09 Jan 2015 09:41:29 +0000 I know I was baptized. I know there were promises made on my behalf. I know I have renewed these promises according to a rote formula on many occasions, and annually at the Easter Eucharist. However, when I reflect on the Baptism of Jesus in the light of Mark’s account and the presentation of the servant in Isaiah 42, I see an energy, an urgency, a call and a thrust. If I can understand my Baptism in the same way, then there is nothing rote about it.

Isaiah’s servant is presented with these words: “My chosen one with whom I am well pleased.” Mark’s account of the Baptism concludes with these words: “You are my beloved son with whom I am well pleased.” The Gospel makes clear the link between Jesus and the servant of Isaiah. We have come to know the servant as a reference to the Messiah, whom we know as Jesus. From other Gospel accounts we have come to understand that the mission of Jesus, launched at the Baptism, and that laid out for the servant are the same. Furthermore we read that God has placed God’s Spirit in the servant, that same Spirit of God which descended on Jesus when he emerged from the waters of Baptism.

That same Spirit is ours also, as we too emerge from the waters of Baptism. Its coming has not been weakened or watered down through centuries of use, or ritual formulae. It comes with an energy and an urgency. We read in the Markan account that the heavens were torn open for the Spirit to descend on Jesus in the form of a dove. God said to the servant of Isaiah, “I have grasped you by the hand.” One might grasp the hand of another to pull the other out of harm. A skater or a dancer may grasp the hand of a partner to lead the other in an intricate move, never slackening that grasp.

Baptism of JesusThat is the grasp of God, dancing us through the thrust of our Baptismal call. That call and thrust is set out for the servant in Isaiah when God says, “I have called you for the victory of justice.” The same call is ours.  So we emerge from the waters of Baptism to the dance of justice. It take us through the deserts of deprivation, into the darkness of people’s hopelessness, around the twists and turns of economic greed, through the wastelands of violence. And as we dance, we grasp the hand of a sister and a brother to lead them in to the communal dance where justice will have the victory, all the time remembering that we have been grasped by the hand of our God, who is our partner in every step.

Elizabeth Ferguson, OP

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Dominican Laity Newsletter 2015 – featuring article on Alzheimer Cafe Cabra Mon, 05 Jan 2015 14:03:24 +0000 Click below for Dominican Laity Newsletter 2015 with article on launch of Alzheimer Cafe in Cabra on November 6th, 2014.

Dominican Laity Newsletter 2015

Next Meeting of ALZHEIMER CAFE is on  Thursday 8th January, 2015

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Networking within and among the Dominican Family Mon, 05 Jan 2015 10:04:46 +0000 From Sr Margaret Mayce, OP of the Dominican Leardership Conference, USA

I recently had the opportunity to meet with our new delegate to the United Nations in Geneva, our brother, Mike Deeb. Mike visited New York in an effort to understand the workings of the UN here, and to explore ways in which we can work together for the Dominican Family. Our conversations were fruitful, and gave each of us a sense of great possibility. What we each realize more fully is that the advocacy work we try to do in this venue requires a greater connection to what is happening “on the ground” in those parts of the world where our Dominican brothers and sisters live and minister. Networking and collaboration need to be a priority.img_0313xx


Iraq Coordinating Committee

A wonderful example of Dominican networking and collaboration in the United States is the work being done by the Iraq Coordinating Committee (ICC), as they seek to explore how best to respond to the plight of Iraqi Christians and other minority groups which are forced to flee the current onslaught of violence. The members of the ICC include Jim Barnett (Central Province), Dusty Farnan (Adrian), Pat Farrell (San Rafael), Arlene Flaherty (Blauvelt), Eileen Gannon (Sparkill), Beth Murphy (Springfield), Roberta Popara (Sinsinawa) Lucianne Siers (Grand Rapids), Richard Woods, (Central Province), Rick McDowell, Mary Trotochaud, and the North American Co-Promoters for Justice, Peace and Care of Creation, Chuck Dahm (Central Province) and Marcelline Koch (Springfield). Their direct contact with our Dominican sisters in Iraq provides them with a clear sense of the needs as well as the direction they feel is appropriate.

As of now, the ICC is considering ways to educate and advocate regarding the crisis in Iraq, the suffering and displacement of the Iraqi people and the ongoing impact of sustained trauma on Iraqi children and youth—the future and the hope of this devastated country. As plans unfold, there will be ways in which each one of us will all be able to express our own unique solidarity with the people caught up in this tragic situation.


International networking

In addition to my visit with Mike, I also had the chance to meet with three sisters from the Roman Congregation: Rosa Maria Barboza (Brazil), Anne Marie Geoffrey (France) and Anne Levesque, who is stationed in Staten Island, and helped with translation. Rosa Maria and Anne Marie shared some of the realities in their countries—that of Brazil being the most poignant. They spoke of the so-called “agrarian reform,” which has left untold numbers of people landless; they addressed the “enslavement” of peoples in Brazil to the coal industry and to massive deforestation for the benefit of industry and profit. And most heartbreaking of all, the sisters spoke about the illegal organ market—body organs taken from people who lack the resources needed for their own medical care. These organs are then sold on the open market. It’s so hard to imagine that something like this actually happens; and that people allow it, because they feel they have no other recourse.

The Roman Congregation, though small, is represented in Japan, where the sisters are engaged in the nuclear issue, especially in the wake of the Fukushima tragedy; and in Africa, where they work with women and girls and the issue of human trafficking. Sisters also work in prisons in Italy and with the issue of migration in Spain, and in Sweden they work with immigrants and also host three Iraqi Dominican sisters from the Congregation of St. Catherine of Siena. Right now I am in the process of contacting sisters in these areas, in the hope of establishing a network that will strengthen the connection between our sisters’ lived reality and the work that both Mike and I try to do at the UN.


Our sisters ‘down under’

I often feel that I am in a very privileged position, as I have had the opportunity to meet so many inspiring members of the Dominican Family. Not least among these are our Dominican Sisters in New Zealand. They treated Anne Lythgoe and myself as if they had known us all their lives! Being with them during their Chapter days (read more and view photos on the New Zealand Report blog), traveling with them to where they live and minister on both the North and South Island, and speaking with the people whose lives they have touched was an enormously inspiring experience for both of us. Their depth, their simplicity, their realism in the face of diminishment, and their absolute belief that they continue to have something to offer for the sake of the mission filled me with a great sense of hope for our future as a Dominican Family. Their dedication to the charism was palpable, as evidenced in the way in which they have passed on the Dominican spirit to their lay partners. If Dominican life and mission can be so vibrant within a congregation of 47 women, is this not a great sign of hope for us as well?

In his letter to the Philippians, St. Paul speaks of having learned to be content whatever the circumstances. “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to live with abundance… I can do all things through God who gives me strength.” Our New Zealand sisters seemed to embody this for me. Being with them was sheer gift, and I am so very grateful I had the opportunity to spend time with them.

The late poet Jessica Powers said that “To live with the Spirit of God is to be a listener. It is to keep the vigil of mystery, earthless and still.” In deep gratitude for one another and the varied ways in which we participate in Dominican life and mission, let’s together keep this vigil of mystery—so that we might be open and ready to respond to the quiet invitations to join our hands and hearts in collaboration, in networking and in encouraging one another in the pursuit of justice and peace, for the good of all of God’s creatures and this one fragile Earth which we all call home. Happy Thanksgiving!

And in the meantime, our brother Mike, in Geneva, and I, here in New York, will commit ourselves to pursuing a deeper level of collaboration, and of fostering greater engagement from our brothers and sisters for the good of God’s people and this one fragile Earth which we all claim as our home.


Margaret Mayce, OP (DLC/Amityville) (






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Epiphany (4th January) Thu, 01 Jan 2015 16:45:52 +0000 There are many good things we can only enjoy in the dark. Only in the dark can we delight in a Christmas light display. It is only in the dark that we can sit in our yard or on our porch or look out our window and stare at the wonder of the stars. Without the dark we cannot see the amazing light display of fireworks ringing in the New Year or celebrating some other event. We mark the beginning of each new day, not at the moment of dawn, but right in the middle of the dark of night.

In what darkness were the magi shrouded that compelled them to search for some sign in the light of a star? They are presented as astrologers, those who study the movement of celestial bodies in order to explain, interpret or predict events. The story may have historical conflicts. However, like its main characters who interpreted messages in the stars, the story still unfolds its messages to us.

It is obvious that these searchers of the stars were looking from their darkness for a significant light. When they saw this particular star at its rising, they recognized whose star it was. From their own learnings they set out for the obvious place, Jerusalem, the seat of power. The star did not lead them there, their own calculations were their guides. But, they had figured it wrong, and the error of their judgments had serious consequences later. When they moved from Jerusalem, the original star reappeared and guided them to the house in Bethlehem. All they found there was a young, poor mother and a baby. Not a great deal after such a long journey, we might think. For the magi it was enough, enough to stir their faith to offer homage, and to offer gifts. For those who recognized the star at its rising, and who had traveled a flawed course, this was enough to help them recognize the new light that would lead them out of their darkness to a new way.EPH

Most of us have seen a star at its rising in our own souls at some stage in our lives and have set out to follow its course. Like the magi, the course we have followed has often been flawed by our own calculations and charting. We may have lost sight of the star and wandered into the darkness of what seemed to be the obvious course. This story and this season help to set us on the path again. We are reminded that in the simplest of circumstances the light of Jesus is found, a light that will lead us on the path of the his gospel to a renewed way of living, in the footsteps of the one whose star was seen at its rising, and by whose orbit we first desired to plot our course.

Elizabeth Ferguson, OP


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