Chapter 4th

Soon after his arrival in Hobart, Mr Woods found circumstances quite different to his expectations… Though he remained only a few months in Hobart, his amiable conduct and fervent piety made a lasting impression on many persons…Mary MacKillop
Mary MacKillop, 1871

…Julian – after staying a short while in Victoria – went to Adelaide to join his brother, Mr J.D. Woods, who says ‘A few weeks rest was quite sufficient to satiate a man of energetic habits like Julian, so he accepted an engagement as sub-Editor and reporter on the “Adelaide Times”… His pen pictures were always pleasant reading, whether he compelled attention by graphic description, made one laugh by the charm of his wit and keen sense of the comic, or shed tears over the sympathetic.  But the old yearning towards the church asserted itself anew…

Not succeeding in finding another opportunity of entering religion and being weary of ‘Hope deferred, that maketh the heart sick’ Julian sought some relaxation in society.  He was young, good-looking and very attractive; more than one fair lady bestowed upon him approving glances and many a pleasant hour was spent in music and singing among those who delighted in his company…

In conversation, someone mentioned him, stating that he intended returning to England to re-enter the Passionist Order.

‘Oh no,’ said another, ‘he will soon forget those fancies.  What does a fine young fellow like him want going about bare-footed? He should get married – there is Miss Z… breaking her heart about him.’ …

Some of the remarks at last reached the subject of them.  A tempter whispered, ‘Why not settle down?  You could do so much good here….it will do no harm to address the lady – you know she likes you.’

He certainly knew he was not disagreeable to her; and as he was invited to spend an evening at her home, some distance from the city, he determined he would on that occasion decide the important matter.

Father Julian Tenison Woods

When the appointed evening came, it brought a grand thunderstorm: heavy rain deluged the streets and made going out an impossibility. After waiting a considerable time for the rain to cease, the thought occurred to the young man – ‘It is not the will of God for me to go there.’  When too late to attempt going, the storm cleared away and a beautiful night set in… ‘I will pay a visit to the church,’ said Julian… kneeling before the altar he prayed for help and light, and at last arose comforted… this was the turning point of his life…

The Bishop, the saintly Dr Murphy, saw him…He came forward and spoke. In a conversation that followed, Julian placed entire confidence in the Bishop who advised him to give up the idea of the religious life at present and retire to the Jesuit College at Sevenhill near Clare to finish his studies preparatory to his ordination as a secular priest.  This he did, though not without a pang, for the religious life was his special attraction…

His departure from Adelaide caused no small surprise to his friends and Miss Z… had the satisfaction of knowing that no human being was preferred to her.


This extract is taken from:

Chapter 4th 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.

For locations and contact details visit the Josephite Books webpage.


Carmel Jones rsj