Chapters 21st, 22nd and 23rd

This year [1870] the schools were not so successful and complaints were many.[i] About this time Father Woods had a sudden attack of illness. The Doctor recommended absolute quiet and rest. But it was not easy to follow this prescription.[ii]

The death of Father Smyth [Vicar General] withdrew a powerful protection from the tantalized Director of Catholic Education.[iii] The Archbishop – there was only one in Australia then – appointed Archdeacon Russell Vicar General, until the will of Dr Sheil could be known. Seeing the debts and difficulties, the acting Vicar forbade Father Woods going on with the improvements at the convent building, tenders for which were already advertised. He also in his official capacity held an investigation at the convent into a mysterious occurrence which had happened there some months before. This was an unspeakably painful matter to all concerned.[iv]  The investigation, though most searching, discovered nothing.[v]

In December [Father Woods wrote] ‘Priests and people seem dead against us, and the most severe things are said’.[vi]

On Thursday 2 February 1871 the Right Rev Dr Sheil, Lord Bishop of Adelaide [returned to Adelaide]…The Bishop made some changes in the diocese, placing Father Woods in North Adelaide. But the anxiety, the overwork, the many duties which he imposed on himself … proved too great a strain.  His health failed; indeed, some of his friends feared his reason would give way. A change of scene and labour was desirable.[vii]

On 18 May His Lordship found Father Woods very ill and gave him permission to go as soon as possible for a change to the College at Sevenhill. While he was at the College, Bishop Quinn of Bathurst paid a visit there. Dr Quinn invited Father Woods to go to Bathurst in August, and also requested Sisters for Wentworth and Bourke. The Bishop of Adelaide giving permission, Father Woods consented.

Though his stay at Sevenhill benefited his health, the poor priest had too many anxieties to allow him much enjoyment. Money which he had borrowed from the Bank was overdue, and he hurried back to town to face the trouble.[viii]

Dr Sheil sailed for Melbourne. Leaving the boat at MacDonnell Bay, he paid a visit to Mount Gambier, and then went on to Melbourne, en route for Ballarat where he was to preach at the opening of the Cathedral, which he had commenced.

Father Woods, being unable to settle his difficulties, went on with his usual work until the last day of July, when he preached the panegyric of St Ignatius in the Jesuit church at Norwood.[ix]

Within a few days, he received instructions to proceed to Victoria where the Bishop then was. This had already been arranged, as the Bishop of Bathurst expected Father Woods in his diocese, and on his way there he could call at Ballarat.

Yet, as he hastened to obey, he could not shake off the feeling that trouble was at hand.[x]

This extract is taken from:

Chapters 21st, 22nd and 23rd 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


[i] Chapter 21st, p. 136
[ii] Chapter 21st, p. 137
[iii] Chapter 21st, p. 139
[iv] Chapter 22nd, p. 143
[v] Chapter 22nd, p. 145
[vi] Chapter 22nd, p. 147
[vii] Chapter 23rd, p. 151
[viii] Chapter 23rd, p. 152
[ix] Chapter 23rd, p. 153
[x] Chapter 23rd, p. 154