Ecological Relevance

Father Julian E. Tenison Woods was a man of many parts. First and foremost, he was a Catholic priest, and it was as priest that he was involved in many areas of life.

He founded several Religious Congregations, developed a system of Catholic Education for children from poor families and made a significant contribution to the understanding of the ecology of Australia. At the time of his death in Sydney in October 1889, church and science came together to mourn the passing of one who had done much to increase their knowledge of Australian Geology, Botany, Palaeontology and Zoology.

The Sisters’ Congregations he founded saw him as friend and inspiration for their spiritual journey. Scientists named him as friend, a ‘delightful companion and ‘skilled adviser’, noting that he was part of the scientific progress and history of Australasia, where he had laboured with such painstaking care and, as a result, had published numerous articles and books in his areas of interest.

In our day the world is struggling with its responsibility for Earth’s health. Thanks to the evils of pollution, neglect and exploitation, peoples and their environment have been harmed and are threatened on all sides. Our times demand of us what Pope Francis calls ‘ecological conversion’—‘an ecological spirituality grounded in the convictions of our faith, whereby the effects of our encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in our relationship with the world around us.’ Although Julian Woods lived in a time very different from ours, in his life we can recognise processes that point to elements of what is required for this ecological conversion. Therefore, we can look to him as a model for us as we, too, embark on a journey towards a greater ecological consciousness.

As we read the articles below, let us, as we learn more of the ecology of Earth, embark on a journey where we seek to protect it against the forces that appear to be set upon destroying it completely.