Julian Tenison Woods and his Early Days in Bathurst Diocese of NSW

Pine Tree at German Hill overlooking Mount Canobolas (Orange) in New South Wales.

In a little book entitled Memoirs of Our Founder Rev Julian Edmond Tenison Woods [1] written by one of the first members of the Josephites, we find:

The foundation in Bathurst was a source of great joy and consolation to him. He hoped that there the Institute could be established according to the original Rule. However, he was obliged to make some alterations to suit the Bishop’s (Dr Quinn’s) views, which were to form the Bathurst Sisters into a Diocesan Community. In the early days of the Institute, when it may be said to have had no existence except in his mind, his prayer to God was that while it might accomplish all the good he desired, none of the credit of it might be given to him. 

Due to illness Julian experienced after four years of superhuman exertion [2] in Adelaide and a serious fall from his buggy, he was sent to New South Wales (NSW) by the Bishop to rest. It appears that Julian interpreted ‘resting’ as an opportunity to facilitate missions and retreats in the Bathurst and Sydney Dioceses! Perusing a list of dates where Julian visited the Bathurst Diocese between 1871-1883, it is obvious that he took a great interest in what might provide an avenue for his priestly ministry. Arriving in Bathurst it is noted that he preached on 19-20 August 1871. [3] It appears that this began his sojourn within the Bathurst Diocese, as well as other places.

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Father Julian Tenison Woods Reflection

A reflection in the key of F on Fr Julian Tenison Woods  [1832-1889]: Saint Mary MacKillop’s “Father Founder”

“Fairly faithfully and fallibly following a fairly famous and fallible Founder”.

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Reporting on the Vagaries of Life

Founders of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, Mary MacKillop and Father Julian Tenison Woods.

Report cards have always been a source of consternation for teachers, parents, and students of all ages.

People familiar with Mary MacKillop’s Portland story would remember the furore that arose from the efforts of Mr Cusack to impress the school inspector with some clever behind the scenes prompting and a quick switch of the more able students from Mary’s and Mary’s sister Annie’s classes. All to no avail when his deceit was uncovered. Strangely enough when Mary’s father Alexander exposed his folly loudly and vociferously through the local paper, the consequences fell down on Mary’s shoulders.

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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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