St Brigid’s Feilding makes Suzanne Aubert Pilgrimage


Deirdre Hanlon

Parishioners from St Brigid’s Feilding visited St Mary of the Angels Church in Boulcott St, Wellington, during their pilgrimage to reflect on Venerable Suzanne Aubert. Photo: Alistair Baird

Thirty parishioners from St Brigid’s Feilding made a pilgrimage to Our Lady’s Home of Compassion in Island Bay in March to encounter and reflect on the life of Venerable Suzanne Aubert. The experience was enjoyed by all and left the pilgrims abuzz.

A glorious Wellington day greeted the visitors after their two-hour drive south. Sr Sue Cosgrove welcomed everyone to the chapel. Two Sisters of Compassion, Sr Isidore Shortall and Sr Anna-Maria Shortall who came from Colyton, were remembered. It was wonderful to have a parishioner in the group who was related to the Shortall Sisters. These stories along with reminiscences of visits from Feilding to Hirhuhārama-Jerusalem, connected the pilgrims to the wider stories of Suzanne Aubert and the Sisters of Compassion. Prayer and reflection acknowledged the recent tragic events in Christchurch fresh in everyone’s hearts and minds.

Sr Josephine Gorman, the congregation’s archivist, explained the Cause for Suzanne Aubert’s canonisation, and noted the many blessings she is seeing in the everyday lives of people, especially in renewing prayer lives.

Lunch was next for everyone to enjoy time in the refreshment spaces, including the beautifully landscaped and relaxing cloister gardens. During the afternoon Sr Josephine led tours of the chapel and the resting place of Suzanne Aubert. The exhibitions on Suzanne Aubert and the Sisters of Compassion, as well as the temporary Influenza Pandemic of 1918 exhibition were open for the pilgrims to explore.

As well as visiting the Home of Compassion, pilgrimage groups can visit other Wellington places significant to Suzanne Aubert’s story, such as the Soup Kitchen and the historic creche. St Brigid’s group was keen to visit St Mary of the Angels Church, where Suzanne Aubert’s funeral was held in 1926. A welcome from Fr Kevin Conroy sm and a passage vividly describing the funeral, from Jessie Munro’s awarding-winning biography on Suzanne Aubert, set the scene, culiminating in a conversation between a reporter and a bystanding workman. The reporter asked the workman what religion Suzanne Aubert was, to which the workman replied, ‘That is a question she would never have asked you or me!’

The Suzanne Aubert Heritage Centre at the Home of Compassion is open Tuesday to Sunday. To make a booking for a group tour or pilgrimage, please contact Deirdre Hanlon at [email protected] or (04) 282 1953.

Published in WelCome June 2019

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