Ego to Eco: Part One

Father Julian Tenison Woods was a Catholic priest who had made a great contribution to Australian Geology, Botany, Palaeontology and Zoology.

Today the ecology of the Earth is suffering. Pope Francis states that we are in a time where peoples of the world need to have an ‘ecological conversion.’

Although Father Julian had lived in a different time to us, he had recognised the importance of looking after the Earth.

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Fr Julian: Man of Words – Letter Eleven

Tasmanian Forests: Their Botany and Economic Value [i] was the title that Father Julian Tenison Woods gave the paper he read at the meeting of the Royal Society of NSW on 5 June 1878.

In the paper Father Julian presented his observations of the forests he found in Tasmania from 1874-1876. He described various types of trees in detail and made comparisons with similar trees in other parts of Australia. He described meticulously the process of harvesting and sawmilling of timber, as well as the uses for which it is gathered. At times it is easy to imagine oneself standing among the stately trees and using all one’s senses to paint a picture of the surroundings.

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Birth of Fr Julian Edmund Tenison Woods 1832

A child is born!

Autumn with its myriad colours of gold and red, could be seen in the countryside.  And as the Woods family prepared for the cold of winter, another child was born into their family.  Little did they realise that this child would leave England’s shores at the age of twenty-three, go to a far-off country where his scientific ability, his way with words, his artistry with the paint brush, his musical talent, and his deep faith would have a profound influence on his new country of adoption, Australia.

West Square

This son, Julian Edmund Tenison Woods, was the fifth surviving child born to James Dominik Woods and Henrietta Marie St Eloy Tenison on 15 November 1832, at West Square, Southwark, England.  James was working away from England, for The Times, when Julian was born.  This must have been an anxious time for Henrietta without her husband’s support, as they had already suffered the deaths of two children.

Those readers of The Times the day following Julian’s birth, would have seen the announcement of his birth.

Nearly three months later, on 1 February 1833, Julian was baptised by Fr John White, a missionary priest.  The baptism may, or may not, have taken place in the family home, but the record of it can be seen in St George’s Cathedral, Southwark.

Julian’s older living siblings were Edward, James, Nicholas and Henrietta.  Three more children would complete the family: Terence, John and Charles.   (Three brothers died when young.)

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Julian Tenison Woods Hair
Julian's Parents
Julian Tenison Woods
West Square
West Square Cathedral air view

Fr Julian: Man of Words – Letter Ten

This month we look at the plan for Catholic Education in South Australia that Father Julian Tenison Woods had the task of implementing when he became the first Director General of Catholic Education in Australia.

In 1867 Bishop Laurence Sheil appointed Father Julian Tenison Woods as his Secretary and asked him to leave Penola and move to Adelaide. Once he was there, together, they devised a comprehensive plan for Catholic Education and communicated this at a public meeting held at St Francis Xavier’s Hall on Friday, 26 April 1867. [i]

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Fr Julian: Man of Words – Letter Nine

130 years ago, on 7 October 1889 Father Julian Tenison Woods died at 561 Elizabeth Street, Sydney. He was only 56 years old. This month we provide opportunity to explore some of the articles that appeared in newspapers across Australia at that time.

WOODS – October 7, at his residence, 561 Elizabeth-street, the Very Rev Julian Tenison Woods, in the 57th year of his age and the 33rd of his ordination R I P[i]
A SOLEMN DIRGE and REQUIEM MASS for the REPOSE of the SOUL of the Late Very Rev J E TENISON-WOODS will be celebrated at St Mary’s Cathedral, TO-DAY at 10am.  The funeral cortege will leave the Cathedral for the Waverley Cemetery at 2 pm. [ii] 

These are the simple death and funeral notices that appeared in Sydney newspapers following the death of Father Julian Tenison Woods. Subsequently, newspapers all over Australia noted his passing and extolled his virtues.

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Death of Fr Julian Tenison Woods

Anniversary of the Death of Fr Julian Tenison Woods on 7 October.

It is true God’s ways are not our ways, but if we look closer into it, we see that God is the Way, just as God is the Truth and the Life. [1]

We commemorate the 130th anniversary of the death of Julian Tenison Woods on 7 October. A multi-faceted human being with extraordinary gifts and talents in a variety of fields, his scientific exploration and writings demonstrate his profound appreciation of nature and challenge us to reverence creation. While he was well regarded in the scientific world, he was beset by many personal disappointments and misunderstandings within the church. He was not a saint, but through his suffering, he remained constant in his faith and committed to his priesthood.

We invited Tenison Woods College students in Mount Gambier, SA to produce a video to celebrate this wonderful man – please view at the end of this article.

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In Footsteps of Founders, Honouring Tim Fischer

Honouring our Founding and remembering Tim Fischer, Boree Creek, Riverina, NSW.

Boree Creek General Store

On Saturday 31 August, on a sudden impulse, we decided to drive from Leeton to nearby Boree Creek for morning tea. With the moving State tribute to Tim Fischer still fresh in our minds, it seemed like a good idea to honour him by going to experience the place he grew up in and loved.

We were thoughtful on the way. Golden canola stretching as far as the horizon. Young wheat too, firm and strong.

Julian would have loved this, besotted as he was with the beautiful, always aware of the Presence of the Creator in the created. A sense rises inside: “We are experiencing his type of amazement!”

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Fr Julian: Man of Words – Letter Eight

Despite all his other commitments, Father Julian Tenison Woods wanted people in the Catholic community to be aware of what was concerning and influencing the Catholic Church in the 1860s. This month we explore his role as editor of the first Catholic journal in South Australia.

In the 21st century there are multiple ways for Australian Catholics to find out what is affecting the Church throughout our country and world. This was not the case in South Australia in the latter part of the 19th century. Father Julian Tenison Woods was convinced that Catholics needed to be aware of happenings relevant to the Church in Europe as well as locally. Despite all his other commitments, he and local Vicar General, Father Patrick Russell produced a newspaper that provided much-needed communication in a way that seems to have been respected by both Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

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