The Old Brigidine Convent, Cook St, Te Awahou - Foxton
Link to Article St Mary’s Foxton Historic Convent
Te Kura Katorika o Hato Maria i Te Awahou - St Mary's School, Foxton was founded in 1911 by the religous order, The Brigidine Sisters. These women of Faith, followed the example of St Brigid of Kildare in caring for and educating the everyday people of Ireland. Later, as European populations grew in places like Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand, their mission brought them from their home in Ireland to serve local populations. Many generations of families from Te Awahou - Foxton have been educated by the Sisters, and more recently, lay (non-religious) educators.
The Charism of St Brigid of Kildare (Ireland)
Who was St Brigid?
Saint Brigid of Kildare or Brigid of Ireland is the patron saint of Ireland, and one of its three national saints along with Patrick and Columba.
Born: Faughart 451
Died: 525 AD, Kildare, Ireland
Place of burial: Down Cathedral, Downpatrick, United Kingdom
Parents: Broicsech, Dubhthach
Symbols: a staff of an abbess and flames over her head, lamp or candle, cow, ducks or geese
Feast: 1 February
St Brigid is known to us as a strong wahine, full of rangimārie, harikoa, whakapono and aroha. Her generosity, courage and concern for the poor are qualities that strongly inspire us here in Foxton. St Brigid was baptised by St Patrick. She was born into slavery and had a father of noble birth.
The stories that we retell at St Mary’s Foxton are:
Brigid gave away the butter that she churned from her manual labour on the farm land. She prayed that she wouldn’t be in trouble and it was replenished. She sold her father’s sword to a leper who was begging. When her father was angry she replied she had “given it to God".
Her father sold her (later she returned) because he said that she was too generous. Brigid replied that “Christ dwells in everyone!”
Her courage and persistence of faith and compassion continued with her getting permission to start a religious order. She approached the king for land to build a monastery and to grow crops. He refused. Brigid prayed and the king said she could have whatever land her cloak could cover. Brigid prayed passionately and spread her korowai. Her korowai continued to grow and spread across many acres. The king was dismayed but also amazed and handed over the land.
Her final story is when she converted a nobleman who was dying, to Christianity. Through her prayer and faith, she wove a cross from the reeds by his dying bedside. This cross stands for protection against fire, poverty and evil. May Saint Brigid continue to watch over our school and we often use her special blessing prayer for prayer and for Mass.