Chapters 24th, 25th & 26th

Father Woods wrote to Sister Mary:

Bathurst 19.8.71

Here I am arrived at Bathurst, after a very tiresome journey… The Bishop is most kind, too kind in fact, and has a fine lot of work for me to do…[i]

The correspondent of the Freeman’s Journal says:

…On Friday evening, a most instructive and entertaining lecture was delivered by Father Woods, in aid of the funds of the Reading Room and Circulating Library; and in every sense of the word, it was a brilliant success, both as regards the treatment of the subject, the attendance at the lecture and the financial results.  The Bishop briefly introduced Father Woods as a scholar of more than ordinary geographical acquirements, and a writer on Australian subjects, particularly in connexion with its early history and explorations second to none that has made this particular branch of knowledge the theme of his descriptive powers.  The eloquent eulogium thus prefacing the lecturer’s debut was fully substantiated by the delivery of the lecture itself.

[This notice was] copied into the Irish Harp in Adelaide; and the same issue of the paper, under the heading of ‘Clerical Changes’ announced that the charge of North Adelaide had been transferred from the Rev J.E. T. Woods to another priest.  Another item of news was that the Superioress of St Joseph’s Convent had been excommunicated by the Bishop!  On Father Woods’ return to Sydney, this extraordinary news awaiting him. [ii]

In the Freeman’s Journal of 14 October, there is an article referring to Father Woods’ efforts in behalf of Catholic Education.  The same paper gives a report of the ‘Instructive Lecture delivered’ by him.  It must have been hard to attend to these duties under the circumstances [iii]

The Archbishop, seeing how much his visitor was suffering in mind and body, sent him to Subiaco, forbidding him to interfere in any way with the Adelaide affairs. [iv]

[The Archbishop wrote] … there is plenty to be done in and about Sydney… My opinion is that as soon as you can begin the good work the better.  In alleviating the spiritual miseries of others, your own little troubles will pass away. [v]

The 8 December was spent as he had anticipated in Wollongong… He spent part of the day writing to the Sisters, encouraging them to patience under their trials, which it cannot be denied  were bitter, the continual topic of newspaper criticism, pulpit and conversation….

The articles, telegrams, speeches and conversations on the subject would fill a little volume. How inexpressibly painful it must have been to the tender heart of that singularly gentle and charitable man to read such things, and to know that he was powerless to aid those whom it had been his pleasing duty to assist in every possible way…[vi]

All this time no letter had come from Dr Sheil in answer to those Father Woods had written. One had been received from the Bishop of Bathurst saying that he ‘will give schools immediately to some of the Sisters of St Joseph…but come at once and we will arrange this and other matters.’[vii]

The newspapers continued the comments on the Adelaide affairs.  One informed the public that, as the Sisters had no home at present, ‘Mr Emmanuel Solomon has generously given them a comfortable residence, rent free,’ adding ‘It must be a gratifying reflection to the R. C. Bishop of Adelaide, and a source of the most exalted pride to the Catholics themselves to know that Catholic nuns are now indebted for shelter to the unsolicited benevolence of a Jew.’… These notices were so painful to one ‘who remembered the glories and joys that had been’, and affected him so much that his friends endeavoured to prevent him receiving any papers…[viii]

Dr Quinn received him most kindly at Bathurst, and arranged to take as many of the Sisters as could go to him; and he advised Father Woods – no letter having come from his own Bishop – to go to Brisbane where other Sisters could be sent, the Institute being already established there.  It should be remembered that the Bishops of Bathurst and Brisbane were brothers.   Father Woods acted on this advice… Before leaving, he wrote to Adelaide, asking the Sisters to accept the invitation, arranging about some money matters, and ending thus:

How good God is.  Depend upon it, these trials will open to us a great field.  I don’t doubt that I shall soon be back in South Australia.  I am advised to remain until imperatively ordered back.
But after all, my only trust is in God, and I know our deliverance will come from Him. [ix]

This extract is taken from:

Chapters 24th, 25th & 26th 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 24th, p. 155
[ii] Chapter 24th, p. 159
[iii] Chapter 24th, p. 161
[iv] Chapter 25th, p. 165
[v] Chapter 25th, p. 169
[vi] Chapter 26th, p. 175
[vii] Chapter 26th, p. 177
[viii] Chapter 26th, p. 178
[ix] Chapter 26th, p. 179