Chapters 15th and 16th

Father Woods returned to Penola as he had arranged. Great was the sorrow of his parishioners on hearing that he was certainly leaving after Christmas…[1]

Preparations had to be made for the expected visit of the Bishop and for the Confirmation, which had been delayed several years, owing to the prolonged absence of the late Bishop.  Many adults were to be confirmed and Father Woods was kept busy at work, but as we have already seen, he considered it ‘a perfect luxury to have plenty to do.’…[2]

Mary MacKillop, 1871

On the day of the Bishop’s arrival, a party of the principal parishioners rode, or drove, out about twenty miles to meet him…A picnic to the curious caves of Struan in the limestone country of the Mosquito Plains had been arranged so that the Bishop and his scientific companion [Father J N Hinteroecker] should have an opportunity of inspecting those wonderful specimens of geology…[3] [Father Hinteroecker] and Father Woods became great friends – indeed the two priests were in many ways kindred spirits…[4]

During the visit of the Bishop, the school question was much discussed. His Lordship addressed Miss MacKillop as Sister Mary to the surprise of her friends, and henceforth she was known by that title.

The school, and indeed everything commenced by Father Woods, was all that could be desired by the Bishop.

Father Julian Tenison Woods

At length, the long talked of parting came. On his last Sunday, Father Woods preached his farewell sermon amid the tears and sobs of his people…[5] It was a fearfully hot day and bush fires were prevalent. Penola is surrounded by forests and has had some extensive fires, being on more than one occasion in danger of total destruction.

Among his reminiscences, Father Woods told stories of the fires…[6] Father Woods had witnessed many a bush fire, and he had a grand one as a send-off. After leaving Penola, while ploughing through the dreary sand over the Victorian border, thick smoke enveloped the travellers but soon blazing trees added to their discomfort, crackling branches snapped off and fell in their way. …[7] Instead of going on to Portland, they stayed for the night at Dartmoor and continued their journey the next day…[8] The earnest naturalist, the scientist priest, the lover of the wild and the beautiful turned to a new and busier phase in his varied life.

Father Woods arrived in Melbourne on 16 February…[9] We hear of Father Woods preaching at St Francis’ on the evil of balls. There was a warship in the Bay and the Officers gave a ball. It was Lent – hence the sermon. He persuaded a noted family not to go, much to the annoyance of some young people.

Very few could resist his influence, yet he never seemed to try to induce others to adopt his opinions…[10] At the commencement of April he left for Adelaide…[11]

This extract is taken from:

Chapters 15th and 16th of Julian Tenison Woods: A Life has been used with the kind permission of the Trustees of the Sisters of Saint Joseph 1997 and the publishers, St Paul’s Publications.

If you would like to read the full text, including an informative Introduction, footnotes and an index, this book is available online and from some Mary MacKillop Centres.

Carmel Jones rsj


[1] Chapter 15th, p. 76
[2] Chapter 15th, p. 76
[3] Chapter 15th, p. 77
[4] Chapter 15th, p. 80
[5] Chapter 15th, p. 81
[6] Chapter 15th, p.81
[7] Chapter 15th, p.82
[8] Chapter 15th, p. 82
[9] Chapter 16th, p. 83
[10] Chapter 16th, p. 85
[11] Chapter 16th, p. 85