Julian’s Charism Continues Today

Julian Tenison Woods seldom looked away from nature’s realities. He appreciated and pursued unexplored fields which were opened to him during his short life span. No wonder so many Josephites have spread far and wide deeply connecting with the Whenua – ‘the womb which gives us life’.

Sr Makareta and I travelled to the far north of ‘Te Ika a Maui’ (The Fish of Maui) and visited Hokianga Harbour to explore the arrowpoint of Aotearoa’s (New Zealand) human story.

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At home among the poor

The Vision artwork by Jan Williamson.

On 31 May 1867, Father Julian Tenison Woods sent to Mary MacKillop the first Rule of the Sisters of Saint Joseph. This became the founding document, encapsulating the vision for the order and providing the Sisters with important guidelines for their ministry.

It had arrived! Here was the fruit of their discussions. Sister Mary MacKillop opened it carefully, her heart filling with joy as she read Father Julian Tenison Woods’ words in his letter of 31 May 1867:

Dear Sister Mary

I enclose the Rule. You must without delay copy it out into a small neat book, smaller than this note paper, and written only on one side and enclose it back to me.

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Window on Creation

“Living in harmony with nature and with God gives us full happiness and purpose,” thus said Father Julian Tenison Woods in 1887.

For Fr Julian, fullness of life meant the integration of science and religion. He sensed that the future of Earth depends on the realisation that all creation is in relationship, and that we human beings are irrevocably inter-connected with the natural world. In this he echoed the sentiments of St Francis of Assisi whom Pope Francis brought to our attention in 2015 when he gave the world Laudato Si’. Pope Francis showed us that St Francis’ way of living simply and sustainably was in solidarity with Earth and her peoples.

Today we know our Earth is in trouble.

A new resource has been created as an invitation to all who care about the future. The reader is invited to look at our world, as if out a window, with St Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis, and Fr Julian.

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Mary MacKillop College Kensington opens new Tenison Centre

The new Tenison Centre named in honour of Father Julian Tenison Woods.

Mary MacKillop College is located in Kensington, South Australia, the suburb where St Mary MacKillop lived and worked for many years. The College is an incorporated work of the Sisters of Saint Joseph.

Mary MacKillop College proudly announces the completion of the Tenison Centre, an innovation hub designed to inspire curiosity, unleash creativity and evoke collaboration. The Tenison Centre is dedicated to Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) education for girls.

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Julian Tenison Woods on Transcendent Evolution by Supernatural Selection

Statue Mary the Mother of God – part of the monument at Father Julian Tenison Woods grave at Waverley Cemetery, NSW.

Father Julian Tenison Woods’ deep spiritual devotion to Mary and his profound connection to God through the natural world, were not mere facets of his life; they were sources of his vitality and inspiration.

Nature (or ‘Mother Nature’), like Mary the Mother of God, is a (‘sacramental’) sign of God’s grace which allows God’s presence to flow into us. Fr Julian found solace and revelation in both Mary’s maternal embrace and the nurturing beauty of nature. His life’s work in the natural sciences was more than an academic pursuit; it was a testament to the belief that all of creation offers glimpses of the infinite beauty of its Creator. Fr Julian’s reverence for Mary and for nature’s Creator breathed life into his very being, his ‘soul’, allowing him to provide his spiritual children insight into the interconnectedness of faith, science, and the world around us.

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A Letter from Father Julian Tenison Woods

Woods the Musician by Lon Schrek.

To mark the birth of Father Julian Tenison Woods on 15 November 1832, Sr Carmel Jones imagines a letter written by Fr Julian on his birthday…

As I sit here today on my birthday, pen in hand, I am drawn to reflect back on my life and thank God for the many graces with which I have been blessed.

I am certainly grateful for my parents, James and Henrietta, who gave me the gift of life, and for the many and varied experiences that came with growing up with my family in England. I was blessed to be able to follow my deep desire for priesthood which led me from London to France and then to Australia. I am also grateful for the way my life was so enriched by my love of science and the environment.

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Father Julian: Man of Many Virtues

Julian Tenison Woods and Mary MacKillop mural located at Mary MacKillop Memorial School, Penola SA.

“Jesus wept!” This simple verse speaks volumes of the inner life of Christ. The effects on those around were not lost – “See how he loved [Lazarus],” they said (John 11:35). Soon after the death of Father Julian Tenison Woods on 7 October 1889, Mary MacKillop, on behalf of Mother Bernard, Mother General, wrote to the sisters, referring to ‘the gentle spirit of our Father Founder’:

… try to honour his memory by imitating his virtues. Mary MacKillop, Letter to the Sisters, 28.10.1889

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Celebrating the Life of Julian Tenison Woods

On 7 October, the Sisters of Saint Joseph celebrate the life of Julian Tenison Woods, our Father Founder.  Mary MacKillop wrote to the Sisters on the occasion of his death:

I ask you, my dearest Sisters, one and all – those who knew him personally and those who have only heard of him – to remember that he dearly loved the Institute and that he wished to see the Sisters humble and full of charity towards each other.
Mary MacKillop to the Sisters, 28.10.1889

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