Julian Tenison Woods’ Baptism

Stained glass, Sacrament of Baptism by Nheyob, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Julian Edmund Tenison Woods was born on 15 November 1832 at Southwark in London, England. His parents, James and Henrietta were of Irish origin, James being a Catholic with marginal commitment to the church and Henrietta coming from the Saint-Eloy Tenison family with strong connections to the Anglican church.

Julian’s birth was announced on 16 November in The Times newspaper for which his father was a correspondent. James, however, was in Belgium at the time of Julian’s birth, reporting on the siege of Antwerp. Before the end of 1832, he returned to West Square, Southwark where Henrietta was caring for their children, Edward, James, Henrietta, Nicholas and baby Julian.

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The Gift of Father Julian Tenison Woods

Fr Julian Tenison Woods, a gifted and complex character, was a many-sided man: pioneer priest, dedicated and successful missionary, educator (the first director of Catholic Education in Australia), scholar of some repute and respected scientist.

In his formative years, Julian encountered and was influenced by a variety of holy people and their spiritualities. Consequently, his own spirituality was eclectic. It was shaped: by his experience as a Franciscan tertiary; by the Passionist emphasis on prayer and asceticism; by the extroverted devotion and ornate ritual of the Oratorians; by the Marist devotion to Mary; by the French traditions of mystic prayer and spirituality; and by Peter Julian Eymard’s emphasis on Eucharistic adoration.

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New Julian Tenison Woods Exhibition at MMHC

The Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre (MMHC) in Melbourne is proud to present a new exhibition on Fr Julian Tenison Woods. The temporary exhibition focuses on the 10 years Julian Tenison Woods lived and worked as a priest in Penola and the surrounding South Australian countryside, exploring Julian’s work as a missionary priest, his scientific endeavours and advocation of Catholic education for the poor. The exhibition also showcases highlights from the museum’s collection of Penola, Julian artefacts and activities for children to enjoy.

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A Birthday Memory of a Visionary

A young Julian Tenison Woods.

The significant connection between England and Australia was not fully recognised on 15 November 1832, the birth of Julian Tenison Woods.

Julian’s early life amidst frequent changes of residence, provided the space for developing and pursuing his lifetime interest in reading, discovering, and recording nature through sketching and sharing. The following years were dotted with varied and valuable experiences that contributed to his later years of priestly and pastoral service to the Catholic Church in Australia and civil society in Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines and Java.

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Anniversary of Father Founder Julian Tenison Woods

Julian Tenison Woods, 1866.

This death anniversary (7 October) of Father Founder, Julian Tenison Woods, comes at a time of worldwide concern for our environment and all people, especially the most impoverished. ln this crisis we look to Father Woods, a natural scientist ahead of his time in recognising the interconnection of all creatures.

His scientific peers wrote after his death of his attainments, energy and thoroughness. They also invariably wrote of him, the man, and his way of relating to others.

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Father Founder – A Tasmanian Connection

Julian’s Hobart Portrait circa 1874-1876.

In education these days, there is a practice where a teacher may use a ‘provocation’. This is an object or artefact, a photo or a poem that is a stimulus for thought and discussion. A launching pad for learning.

In writing this reflection, and thinking about Father’s Day (4 September), and the role of Julian Tenison Woods as Father Founder of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, my mind was immediately drawn to an item we have in the display case in our Julian room at the Josephite Mission and History Centre in Hobart. It is Julian’s priestly collar in a battered case with a handwritten note from Mary MacKillop to the Tasmanian Sisters.

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Julian Tenison Woods – 150 Years On!

Father Julian Tenison Woods

On 16 July 2022, the Sisters of Saint Joseph celebrated 150 years of the Congregation’s presence in New South Wales since their arrival in Perthville in 1872.

What would it be like for Fr Julian Tenison Woods to speak to us in this year of sesquicentenary?

150 years on, this is what I imagine he might say:

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Father Julian and the Westbury Letters

Father Julian Tenison Woods.

Father Julian Tenison Woods had a deep connection with Tasmania over many years. As a missioner, he encouraged many young women to join both the Sisters of Saint Joseph on the mainland and the founding group of the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.

Aware of the needs in Tasmania, Fr Julian wrote to St Mary MacKillop in 1869:

There is no diocese, however, which wants the Sisters so badly as that of Tasmania. I am to see the Bishop of that place today or tomorrow on the subject and whatever comes I would send Sisters there if I am asked.[1]

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