Sixty years ago on New Years Day the first group of Holy Faith sisters arrived in Christchurch New Zealand after five and a half weeks at sea. Bishop Joyce had invited them to begin a new primary school at Our Lady of Fatima parish, Innes Road Christchurch
The group left Dublin 24 November 1954 on the night crossing to Liverpool, travelled to London where they stayed the night. Early 26 November saw them at to St Pancras station and on to Tilbury to board the Rangitiki on which they would make the long journey in steerage.
On the first day of sailing the ship ran into a storm and many of seven sisters were sea-sick. They completed the trip in calmer waters and were allowed ashore in Caracas, reaching Auckland on the morning of New Year’s day. The sisters of Mercy provided warm hospitality and a cup of tea on terra firma was particularly welcome. Later that day the group went by plane to Christchurch.
Three of the pioneering group are retired in Ireland: Srs Melania Hogan, Josephine Cummins and Bernadette Grace. All three remember with immense gratitude the kindness of the people of Glen Innes parish and thoughfulness and hospitality of the Christchurch Sisters of Mercy led by a Tipperary woman, Mother Enda and that of Sr Gertrude Joyce, sister to James Joyce.
Three of the original group are deceased: de Lourdes Hanrick, Helen Mullins, Eileen Lee.
Our mission in Christchurch continues in the same parish with Srs Deirdre Nelson and Cora Grennan.