Home|Tom Morton

About Tom Morton

This author has not yet filled in any details.
So far Tom Morton has created 3 blog entries.
11 09, 2013

Evening Prayer, Cathedral, Cape Town

2023-07-13T18:09:49+00:00September 11, 2013|Dominican News, Events, South Africa|


Evening Prayer, Cathedral, Cape Town


This year 2013,as we know, was designated by Pope Benedict XVI as a Year of Faith.  The quotation chosen for the Year of Faith was from the Acts of the Apostles: Chapter 14, verse 27, it states “They called the church together, and reported what God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith.”


Today in this Cathedral of Cape Town we recall with a deep sense of gratitude and humility those first Irish Dominican sisters who came from Cabra, Dublin in 1863, a hundred and fifty years ago, and all those who followed in their footsteps over those one hundred and fifty years – Irish and South African women.  We give thanks for their faith, for how they responded to the gift of faith and how they were willing to share it with others.  They have indeed opened the door of faith over many faith filled years.


I first visited South Africa in 1991 and among many things that impacted upon me then, was the magnificent beauty of the country – the mountains, the sea, and the flora, the birds and animals; this beauty and diversity contrasted sharply with the pain and suffering of the structured apartheid system. The other lasting impression was the vocation and life stories of our older sisters, of how they left their country to come so far away.


The origin of our Congregation stems from a robust, strong faith in a God who pervades history.  It began in Galway, a small fishing village in the West of Ireland in 1644, at a time of great religious persecution which continued for centuries.  To choose to be a Catholic, much less a vowed religious was akin to death, torture or exile, in the political and social structure of their day.  We refer to those darkest days as the Penal Times because of the restrictions placed upon Catholics.  They were not allowed to own property, practise their religion openly or speak their native language.  Yet their faith survived and their belief in a faithful God.


Catholic Emancipation came in 1829 and the years following saw a great flourishing of the Catholic Church and that of the priesthood and religious Orders.  It heralded in a blossoming of new Missionary Orders and many men and women going to countries all over the world to spread the Gospel.  It was from this time that the first Irish Dominican Sisters came to South Africa.  They came from a very small island, (one could today, drive the length and breadth of Ireland in a day)! I don’t know how many times Ireland would fit into your beautiful country?  Many times I am sure.  They came by boat, leaving their homeland forever, imbued with the understanding that their faith was a gift, a gift not to be hoarded but to be shared with others.  Those early pioneers came from a tradition where their ancestors suffered in order to hold on to their faith and who had nothing else but a belief in a loving and compassionate God who would save them one day.


These women came not only with their gift of faith but also with their formation and education as Dominican women.  They were trained in prayer, study, community living and ministry – ministry which was expressed in education – schools at all levels and schools for children who were deaf.  over the last 150 years, the sisters have opened approximately 79 schools in South Africa and today there are 23 Dominican Schools. We can truly say with St. Paul “ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you.”


St. Paul not only gives thanks as we do this day but he prays for his hearers and we Dominican Sisters pray with St. Paul for all of you present here, for all who over the years have supported us, walked with us, in our schools, parishes, and in our works for peace and justice.  We pray “that the God of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance and his incomparable great power for us who believe.”


Not only is this, the Year of Faith in the Catholic Church but we are also called to be participants in a New Evangelisation in a world whose rate of change is exponential and which has far reaching effects on us as humans,on our flora and fauna, on our environment, traditions and cultures, indeed on our very existence.


Our Baptism, as Christians, calls us to evangelise, it reminds us that we share in the life of God and we share in the mission of Christ.  We are all co-creators with God.  We are called to be generative, men and women who bring forth life in others and in the world around us, wherever we find ourselves.  I like to think of Baptism as a signpost which sets us on a path of being attentive to God in our lives; attentive to a journey of self-discovery and God discovery.  Meister Eckhart, the medieval Dominican, reminds us that we are “human with the seeds of the divine within us”. I heard Bishop Kevin Dowling, speak in Cape Town some years ago and he said that “apartheid has bred a very violent society in South Africa because as a system it showed no respect for human dignity.  And yet it raised up a man who understood what it was to be human and who never allowed evil or suffering to extinguish his hope or his dignity – Nelson Mandela.  Mandela, a man who knew himself and recognised the humanity in others. Meister Eckhart also said that “we know so many things but we don’t know ourselves” and yet here was a man who became an icon of hope, possibility and integrity for the world. A man who held up true human values which are the bedrock and inspiration of religion in its purity.


We give thanks today for those who have gone before us who in the Dominican tradition and charism tried to uphold the dignity of the person and her unique contribution.  I am sure that with successes we also failed along the way and as a representative of the Dominican Congregation I ask pardon for failures and any wrong we may have done.


Today we pray that we may know the hope to which God has called us and like Mandela and our wonderful Dominican Sisters we may be a light shining in the darkness of ignorance, war and greed and we may speak a word of truth and love that will help to restore right relationships between God, people and the earth. We pray that we may keep the door of faith opened for ourselves and for others so that we may create a more human society. Let this be our legacy.


Sr. Helen Mary Harmey OP,

Congregation Prioress.

9 09, 2013

Region of South Africa 150 Years Welcome

2023-07-14T13:14:46+00:00September 9, 2013|Dominican News, Events, News, South Africa|


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

4 09, 2013

Region of South Africa 150 Year Celebration Day 2

2023-07-14T13:16:45+00:00September 4, 2013|Dominican News, Events, News, South Africa|

Day 2 of the 150 celebration of the coming of the Cabra Dominican sisters to Capetown was celebrated with a mass of Thanksgiving. The celebrant was Monsignor Clifford Stokes assisted by Fr Hugh O’Connor. Fr Hugh welcomed everyone, reminding us that we have come to celebrate together, to meet one another together and to give thanks together. Mrs Ursula Vivier, principal of St Mary’s since 2003 welcomed everyone. She and her staff made the evening’s celebration possible with a beautiful liturgy, followed by refreshments and surrounded by the work of the school children. The children were present also in the church welcoming people and as servers during the mass.

Monsignor Stokes gave an excellent homily where he relayed the history of the sisters coming, the context of the time and all that has been achieved in the field of education. Sr Marian O’Sullivan was spoken of by him as a courageous Dominican woman for her unflinching stand in defiance of the government during the apartheid times.( Monsignor Stokes was not aware that Sr Marian was present in the congregation at this mass). The whole celebration was very moving.


Go to Top