Fr Julian: Man of Words – Letter Three

On 21 May 1887, the Sydney Morning Herald [i] published an article by Fr Julian Tenison Woods on his trip to the Victoria River.

This river (named for Queen Victoria) runs from the northern edge of the Tanami Desert to the coast near the Western Australian-Northern Territory border.

Father Julian obviously enjoyed his trip in 1886 and gives his readers historical and geological background about the river and careful descriptions of all he saw along the way. He describes the river as strangely impressing him, having a beauty of its own and that is high praise considering all the rivers he had travelled in his lifetime.

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Why Did Fr Julian Woods Found the Josephites?

Fr Julian Tenison Woods and Mary MacKillop.

In the year 1866 Father Julian Woods, aided by Mary MacKillop, founded the Sisters of Saint Joseph in Penola, South Australia, for the Catholic Education of children from poor families. [1] But why did this busy priest working in one of the largest mission areas in the colony take this step?

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Fr Julian: Man of Words – Letter Two

This month we present a letter written by Father Julian Tenison Woods to the South Australian Weekly Chronicle on 7 November 1863.

Mechanics’ Institutes were a popular establishment in Britain in the 19th century, offering free lectures to ‘mechanics’ as tradesmen, or working men as they were known at that time.

In Australia, the first Mechanics Institute appeared in Hobart in 1827, followed by Sydney in 1833, Adelaide in 1838 and Melbourne in 1839. Before long, most towns had a Mechanics’ Institute comprising a hall, library and reading rooms, facilities for games and programs of educational and entertaining activities.  They were really the forerunner of public libraries and adult education in Australia and their names remain on many public buildings today.

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Fr Julian: Man of Words – Letter One

Let’s begin our experience of Father Julian, Man of Words, with a letter he wrote from Penola to The Argus on 4 February 1865.

The subject of the letter is ‘The Comet’ which was visible in the Southern Hemisphere during January and February 1865. Obviously Father Julian had seen this phenomenon and called on research to situate it within an astronomical context. Living in a remote area of South Australia, from where might this research have been gleaned? Talking/corresponding with fellow scientists? Previous study? Scientific journals? No matter, the facts gathered together make for interesting reading.

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The Archer Letters – Letter Twenty-Four

The last letter in this series was dictated by Fr Julian Tenison Woods on 13 March 1889.

It reads as if maybe he knew it would probably be his last effort to his dear friend, William Archer.

The tone of the letter is one of resignation to his state of health with little hope of relief, but he remains cheerful and happy and expresses his determination to continue as such to the end.  His work of dictating notes for publication has ceased – even letter writing is trying, although he is still eager to receive letters!

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The Archer Letters – Letter Twenty-Three

This short letter, written on 22 March 1888 from Fr Julian Tenison Woods in Sydney to William Archer in Melbourne is not in his handwriting.

Anne Bulger has penned his words, although Fr Julian did attach his signature and love and blessings to Mrs Archer and Gracie.

The letter is accompanied by the first instalment of a paper on the Volcano of Taal written from his Asian travel notes.

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The Archer Letters – Letter Twenty-Two

Fr Julian Tenison Woods’ letter to William Archer on 3 January 1888 from his home in Elizabeth Street, Sydney, was probably not penned by himself. However, he did add his own signature.

The reason for his not writing himself was that a serious deterioration in his health had left him an invalid, unable to use his hands and feet freely. His eyesight was also failing. Yet, despite all this, Fr Julian was continuing to work from his travel notes and prepare articles and scientific papers. His able assistant was Anne Bulger, to whom he had also dictated his Memoirs. (Anne was a member of the lay community of devoted women who cared for Julian in his final invalid years).

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The Archer Letters – Letter Twenty-One

This month’s letter is the only one in this collection that is from William Archer to Fr Julian Tenison Woods. In it Archer welcomes Fr Woods back to Australia after his sojourn in the Far East.

It was written from his home in Melbourne on the feast of Corpus Christi, 1886, and his words are warm and inviting—in anticipation of seeing his good friend once again.  He makes it clear that he is eager to hear all about Fr Julian’s research and to encourage him to speak and write about his experiences.

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