My name is Barbara Rowley and I was born into a Polish refugee family. I went to St Madeleine Sophie’s Catholic Primary School in Island Bay. And it is with great fondness and gratitude that I still look back on those days. They were the days when St Therese of Lisieux had not long been canonised and was the popular saint of the day. I chose Therese for my Confirmation name and sometimes dreamt about becoming a Carmelite nun, just like St Therese. Other times I just wanted to be wife and mother.
God blessed me abundantly. I married Kevin and we had four sons.
In the early 80s I became a founding member of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites in Wellington. In a sense my dream came true and I even got the best of both worlds.
Upon leaving school I took up employment in the General Post Office as a shorthand typist. Later I became Secretary to Jim Knox (secretary of the Federation of Labour). After the birth of my second child, I became a full time ‘mum’.
One thing that Carmelites hold in common, is a passionate love of the Church. St Therese claimed her vocation was to be ‘love at the heart of the Church’. St Teresa of Avila’s dying words were “I die a daughter of the Church’. I started to devote more and more of my spare time doing voluntary work in the Church. To help me in this work I felt I should do some formal studies. I studied first for a Diploma in Pastoral Ministry and later completed the Launch Out Formation Programme. In 2006 I was commissioned as a Lay Pastoral Leader in St Bernadette’s, Naenae.
I have been a Lay Pastoral Leader for 11 years and today am a member of the Pastoral Team in the amalgamated parish of Te Awakairangi.