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Suzanne Aubert

Suzanne Aubert (19 June 1835 – 1 October 1926), better known as Mother Aubert, is in the Anglican Calendar of A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa. She was added in the final stages of Prayer Book revision – she is not acknowledged in earlier Calendar revisions (1972; 1980). I mistakenly added her to Saints Anglicans and Roman Catholics celebrate in common, having misremembered – Roman Catholics are still several steps away from celebrating her on their Calendar. I have updated that post with a brief correcting note.

From For All the Saints:

Mother Marie-Joseph Aubert was born in France in 1835 and arrived in New Zealand in 1860. Her work with Maori, for whom she developed a profound love, took her from Auckland to Meeanee near Napier and then to Jerusalem on the Wanganui River. She later moved to Wellington and remained there until her death in 1926, apart from nursing the wounded in Europe during the First World War. The order she founded, The Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion, opened homes for the incurably ill and handicapped children and provided nursing services for many.

God of love,
we remember with thanksgiving Mother Marie-Joseph Aubert,
whose devotion to the needs of others
transcended race or religion;
touch us deeply with your love,
enlarge the boundaries of our compassion,
and keep us in the way of Jesus,
for your name’s sake.

Read the rest of that entry.

From the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography:

…In February 1871 she responded to a request from the Marist, Father Euloge Reignier, to join his missionary work at Meeanee in Hawke’s Bay. A lay assistant associated with the Third Order Regular of Mary in New Zealand, Sister Aubert worked as a teacher, catechist and nurse. She became interested in Māori herbal remedies and, in 1879, published a Māori-language prayerbook and catechism, Kō te ako me te karakia ō te hāhi Katorika Rōmana (1879). Later she was to publish her New and complete manual of Māori conversation (1885) which included general rules of grammar and an extensive vocabulary….

Because of her fluency in Māori language, Sister Aubert was sent by Redwood to assist in the Whanganui mission. Along with Soulas and three Sisters of St Joseph of Nazareth, she arrived at Jerusalem on the Whanganui River on 8 July 1883. A year later the Sisters of St Joseph withdrew. They had found conditions too trying and relations with Soulas had become strained. Soulas wanted a new women’s order, capable of coping with the difficult and isolated conditions of the mission. In May 1884 Redwood gave permission for the establishment of another community of the Third Order Regular of Mary. Soulas and Mother Mary Joseph Aubert as superior were allowed to receive postulants. It soon became apparent that the spirit of the Jerusalem community diverged somewhat from the Marist philosophy. The visitor to the Marist missions of Oceania, Father Claude Joly, complained about the ‘spirit, the method, the singularity and the pious audacity’ of Soulas and Mother Aubert. Redwood therefore agreed that the sisters should form a new diocesan congregation, and in May 1892 they became the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion, with Mother Aubert as the first superior….

Read the rest of that entry.

Read the Wikipedia entry.

As the people of Aotearoa New Zealand prepare to vote on the Cannabis legalisation and control referendum, Mother Aubert is often claimed to be the first commercial cannabis grower in this country. There appears to be dispute whether this is the case or not (see, for example, here and here). May wise compassion, so evident in Mother Aubert, guide our voting.

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