The early days
Suzanne Aubert was a determined young woman who, as soon as she was legally free to decide her own future, left Lyon in France to begin her lifelong spiritual journey…
As a young woman, Suzanne had repeatedly but unsuccessfully asked her parents’ permission to join religious life. Finally, with the freedom to decide, at the age of 25 she accepted an invitation to become a missionary for Bishop Pompallier’s Auckland diocese.
After working initially at a boarding school for Māori girls, Suzanne left Auckland to work at the Marist Māori mission station at Meanee in Hawke’s Bay with the Third Order of Mary. She became well-known in the area ministering to Māori and Pākehā, Catholic and non-Catholic without compromising her own beliefs. Tolerance and friendship became strategies for her mission.
In 1874 Suzanne was pinning her hopes for a revival of the Māori mission on the new Bishop of Wellington, Bishop Redwood, who was to become her lifelong supporter. In 1883, by invitation of the Māori from the Whanganui River area, Suzanne left Hawke’s Bay for Hiruharama – Jerusalem – to revive the Catholic mission.
It’s here that the home-grown Catholic congregation – Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion – was born.