On 7 September 1863 the mail vessel “Saxon” sailed slowly into Table Bay – the realization of Bishop Patrick Raymund Griffith’s dream. History was in the making as the first six Irish Dominican Sisters stepped ashore in South Africa. They had responded to an appeal of Bishop Grimley, the second Vicar Apostolic of the Colony, for help in the field of education of the youth. 2013 is the 150th anniversary of that arrival.
The question arises: Why celebrate Jubilee?
I think the times demand that we celebrate jubilee. Education in the school situation has been part of the mission of the Cabra Dominican Sisters in South Africa for 150 years. Over these years it has offered an opportunity for education of excellence to learners from Catholic and other faith families wanting a Gospel value based education. Education for deaf children has been part of the mission from the time of the Sisters’ arrival in South Africa as one of the original 6 Sisters brought with her the valuable experience of teaching deaf children.
Although the Sisters are not teaching in the schools now, the schools have been placed in the very capable hands of committed lay people who are enthusiastic to continue education in the Dominican tradition. Endings turn into new beginnings. New beginnings are times of new possibilities. So the time itself is a significant frontier directing us to Jubilee celebration.
Doing Justice is integral to who we as Dominicans are and do.
Dominic dreamed of a world freed from war and violence, winnowed of greed and falsehood,
mirroring truth and goodness in every sphere of life.
wrote Brenda Walshe, Dominican Sister, in Wisconsin.
In order to make this dream possible Dominic gathered around him companions who had the same passion as he had – to proclaim the gospel of truth- and among these companions were women.
This dream which Dominic had more than 800 years ago is still true for the world today and more particularly in South Africa. The Sisters took part in the demonstrations and protests against the sin of apartheid, witnessing to social and eco- justice and continue to participate in a South Africa struggling to respond to the challenges of providing a more just society. Proclaiming jubilee is an act of faith, an act of hope, and an act of conviction that grace, goodness and holiness exist even though none of them has triumphed fully – despite brokenness there is hope.
We celebrate jubilee as an act of gratitude. Our canticle is incomplete if it stops at Jubilate – rejoice. It must go on to Jubilate Deo. Give thanks glory and praise to the Giver. As the psalmist proclaims:
I give thanks to you, Yahweh, for you are good, your love is everlasting.
As we celebrate our 150th anniversary in South Africa the Spirit is asking us to continue
To respond to the challenges by remaining humble, seeking the truth with compassion, and desiring that God’s dream and Dominic’s may come true –
The earth and our human societies must be home for all peoples and all people.
We cannot be proud of everything in the past. Yet we can say to all who have lived the Dominican charism: Well done; may the future do as well!
I would like to welcome to our celebration of praise and thanks to God for the many blessings we have received :
Archbishop Stephen Brislin, Archbishop of Cape Town and President of the SA Catholic Bishops’ Conference
Archbishop Emeritus Lawrence Henry
Priests, Religious, Principals and teachers, Board members, and all those associated with us over shorter or longer periods of time.
In short ,members of our Dominican Family, you are all welcome to this Solemn Evening Prayer
– Let us thank God in Songs of praise.
Sr Francis Krige O.P