Artist Merrilyn George’s quilt exhibition in July – called ‘Set Apart’ – grew from a conversation a year ago inspired by and in honour of Suzanne Aubert. From this kernel of an idea we embarked on a unique experience that gathered many others along the way to deliver an outstanding and successful exhibition for Whanganui.
This first project since the establishment in 2012 of the Associates of Suzanne Aubert – Te Hunga Whai i nga Akoranga a Suzanne – aimed to promote awareness of her in our region.
Merrilyn’s natural and spiritual gifts, beautifully expressed in fabric, became sacred art as Suzanne’s story was told in over 20 quilts.
An opening and blessing in St Mary’s Church, led by Kaumatua Nohi Wallace and Bishop Charles Drennan, was attended by 150 people on 12 July. People burst into singing With Our Mother Suzanne when Bishop Drennan received the ’cause’ – gifted to him by Home of Compassion Congregational Leader, Sr Margaret Anne Mills dolc, and Fr Maurice Carmody, postulator from Stoke. Later that day, over 60 attended a lecture by Home of Compassion Archivist Sr Jo Gorman dolc about the significance for Suzanne of Whanganui and the river.
Forty people joined a Sunday retreat led by Marist Laity facilitator Bev McDonald and Chaplain Fr Chris Skinner SM. It reminded us of the warm relationship between Suzanne and the Society of Mary formed in Meanee, which continues today between the Associates of Suzanne Aubert and the Marist Laity.
The daily exhibition and guided tours attracted large numbers including a group of 54 mainly travelling from Taihape. The exhibition closed 4 pm, Friday 18 July, with Suzanne’s prayer being sung: ‘Thanks be to God, for all God has done, and continues to do for us!’