Our Ministry of Education
Education is going up by leaps and bounds. I do hope you will regard it as a sacred duty to qualify as teachers and save souls.
Mother Rose Niland OP
St Dominic’s Convent, Sutherland Street, Newcastle, built between 1895 and 1898, the cradle of the Congregation
St Dominic’s Catholic School for Girls, Boksburg, Gauteng.
When it opened in 1926, St Dominic’s was the largest girls’ boarding school in the Southern Hemisphere. It was the last School built by Mother Rose and continues to be a place of excellence.
The Newcastle Dominican Congregation began with a group of Sisters who ran a school in Newcastle, Natal – today, KwaZulu-Natal. This strong tradition of involvement in education continues to this day.
At present some members of the Congregation in South Africa are engaged in ministry in four of the schools originally founded by the Sisters. They are: St Catherine’s School in Germiston, St Columba’s School in Benoni, St Dominic’s School in Boksburg and Our Lady of Fatima Dominican Convent School in Durban North.
Sisters sit on the Boards of Governors of these four schools. They are involved at top management level and administration in two schools as well as teaching and librarianship in three of the schools. The presence of Sisters is much appreciated by the schools and they help to promote our Dominican ethos wherever they are.
There is an education crisis in South Africa with many schools being under-resourced and having under-qualified management and teaching staff. The four schools originally founded by the Newcastle Dominican Sisters are a beacon of hope within the Catholic schools’ network and in education circles as a whole.
The schools are involved in outreach projects and as such are examples of the kind of citizens South Africa needs. Many teachers and pupils give of their time, talents and resources to help others who are less fortunate. Examples of such projects are: making blankets, visiting homes for elderly people and orphanages, raising money for local charities, twinning with poorer schools, etc.
Most of the learners from these schools go on to become professionals and ethical leaders in South Africa. We are very proud of the achievements of our past pupils!
Sr Dominique Bernon OP
Vice Principal, Our Lady of Fatima Dominica Convent School
What you do in the schools is for the Church – the Apostolic work entrusted to us by Our Divine Lord when He called us to carry on the work He began and which has to last until the end of time. Live for GOD and your Holy Order.
Having been founded as a teaching Congregation, Sisters opened, administered, and taught in Schools in the United Kingdom for many decades, from their arrival in Launceston, Cornwall in 1915 until the closing of St Joseph’s Infant and Primary School in Storrington, West Sussex in 2001 and beyond.
In 1926, Mother Rose acquired the property at Caldecote Towers, Bushey Heath in Hertfordshire, and Rosary Priory School opened with 12 pupils in January 1927. As soon as Sisters were settled at the Priory, they set to work within the Voluntary Aided System of Catholic Education in the Diocese of Westminster. Over the years, Sisters opened new schools as the need arose across North-West London and Hertfordshire, while responding to invitations further afield.
In the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council, with declining numbers of new vocations, and new demands of professional competence being made, the Congregation handed over to the Diocese of Westminster the trusteeship of its schools, thus releasing Sisters from the increasing burdens of administration and allowing them to focus on the needs of pupils in teaching and pastoral work. Gradually, Sisters began to withdraw from teaching, some by taking retirement and others moving into new forms of ministry and preaching. Very often, however, these new ministries drew upon Sisters’ experience as educators in the faith, and integrated new ways of teaching in different circumstances. Thus, our focus remained education but was expressed in creative and radical ways. This coincided with the growing recognition within the Church for ongoing Adult Faith Formation. Sisters were able to move into this new field, bringing with them their experience of catechesis and faith education.
In recent years, Sisters have begun to be more involved in ‘our’ former Schools, as Governors and in different pastoral ways providing formation in the Dominican ethos.
The growth of Congregation Associates coincided with the outreach of Schools back to Sisters to draw from the wells of Dominican wisdom for the formation of new generations of young Catholics and pupils in Catholic Schools. Several Schools are setting up Student Associates and making them more aware of the tradition from which they have emerged and the Dominican Family to which they belong.
St Joseph’s, Launceston, the first school Mother Rose established in England in May 1915.
Launeston was also established as a second novitiate in order to train young women who were coming from Ireland but could not travel to South Africa because of the Great War.
Rosary Priory School, Bushey Heath: a view from the Rose Walk.
Mother Rose purchased the Caldecote Towers in 1926. She opened Rosary Priory School on 19 January 1927 with 12 pupils.