The legacy of Mary MacKillop is intrinsically connected to that of Father Julian Tenison Woods, who co-founded the congregations of the Sisters of Saint Joseph.

When you are in any doubt, invoke the Holy Spirit and then do what you think is best. Let nothing disturb your peace.Julian Tenison Woods 1887

The Josephite founding story and charism continues to form and influence those who live in the Josephite Spirit today. Father Julian Tenison Woods’ influence is evidenced through spirituality, passion for mission and ongoing awareness of, and commitment to, the environment.

Father Woods was a remarkable man. As well as being a fervent priest and a deeply spiritual man who composed religious songs and poetry, he was a well-respected geologist, botanist, explorer and environmentalist. He wrote many scientific books and articles documenting the history, exploration and geological formation of Australia. The system of education he devised with Mary MacKillop lead to him being appointed the first Director of Catholic Education in South Australia.

There are several ‘memorials’ named after Father Woods in South Australia and Queensland:

Father Woods' Park

Father Woods’ Park is situated a short distance from Penola on the Riddoch Highway and is a very popular site for tourists.

The park is dedicated to the memory of pioneering Catholic Priest, Father Julian Edmund Tenison Woods, who ministered in the South Australian South East region from 1857 until 1867.

Opened in 2010, tree sculptures depict various aspects of the life of Father Woods: as co-founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph; his work as priest-educator travelling on horseback over vast distances of the South East; his scientific and geological achievements and his contribution as a good citizen.

Sculptor Kevin Gilders, using chainsaws, was the creator of the original carvings. Due to the destructive work of longhorn beetles some carvings have had to be restored. This work was carried out by Ant Martin from Millicent. The Park is on land donated to the Archdiocese of Adelaide by Mr Jack Gartner in recognition of the work done by Father Woods in this region.

The Mary MacKillop Stable School Park

The Mary MacKillop Stable School Park is situated on the corner of Queen and Bowden Streets, Penola, South Australia.

It is the site of the first school begun by Mary MacKillop in 1866 after she and Father Julian Edmund Tenison Woods realised their dream of providing Catholic Education for poor children in remote, isolated areas. Within months of this beginning, the rented stable was deemed unsuitable for a permanent school. Father Woods commissioned the building of a new schoolroom near the Catholic Church in Portland Street, Penola.

After the Sisters and children had left the rented stable to occupy the new schoolhouse, the MacDonald family took possession of the stable site once more. They dismantled the building and took most of the timber to their place at nearby Kalangadoo. By 1925, the block had been cleared. On 23 December of that year, William MacDonald’s great grand-daughter, Euphemia Ruth Willshire, sold the land to the Sisters of Saint Joseph. For the next fifty years the site was used by the locals for grazing their animals.

For many years the site of the stable school had been a public memorial garden with a plaque commemorating the founding of the Sisters. With the excitement and joy experienced by so many Australians at the time of Mary MacKillop’s canonisation in 2010, the Sisters of Saint Joseph decided to redevelop the stable site into a place of reflection and prayer. On 28 October 2012, the Mary MacKillop Stable School Park was officially opened and the Stage 1 development blessed.  Stage 2 was completed in 2014 and blessed on 29 June 2014.

An audio presentation written and spoken by historian Sister Marie Foale rsj is a feature in the Park. It describes the history of the site and invites visitors to imagine the first few months of a child attending the Stable School. This popular Mary MacKillop Stable School Park is visited by many pilgrims and tourists each year.

Tenison Woods Mountain

Tenison Woods Mountain is situated in the D’Aguilar Range in the Mount Glorious area, north west of Brisbane, Queensland.

The Sisters of Perpetual Adoration celebrated their centenary in 1974. They had been founded in 1874 by Father Julian Edmund Tenison Woods and settled in South Brisbane. Their first superior and co-founder, Sr M Stanislaus (Catherine Gaffney), was inspired to join the new institute after hearing a sermon preached by Father Woods in Tasmania.

To perpetuate the memory of their founder (and co-founder of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart), an unnamed mountain crest on the D’Aguilar Range in the Mount Glorious area of Queensland was named the Tenison Woods Mountain. This peak is the highest point of the range at 770 metres above sea level. It is at the junction of Kobble Creek Divide and the Mt Samson Range and approximately 50 kilometres north west of Brisbane.

The official naming ceremony, on Sunday, 9 June 1974, was attended by many dignitaries, including the Mother General, Mother M Rosarii, Fr TP Boland (author of the book Quiet Women launched for the Centenary), and members of Fr Woods’ family from South Australia. Honourable W A R Rae MLA, the then Minister for Lands and Forestry, spoke eloquently about Fr Woods’ achievements, and the Right Reverend Monsignor Grantley Lake OBE celebrated the blessing ceremony. Mr Rae unveiled a plaque on the mountain top naming the Tenison Woods Mountain after Reverend Father Julian Edmund Tenison Woods FLS FPS FGS FRGS. This plaque commemorates his scientific contributions to Queensland, and acknowledges Father Woods as founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.

Father Woods was not only a man of faith, a priest of God, but was also a scientist, explorer, author, ‘whose spiritual and mental attitudes were as lofty as the peak itself’ (Tenison Woods Mountain).

… it might be stated that Fr Tenison Woods was one of the most picturesque personalities of Australia’s early history.  He led a strangely varied and adventurous life.  He achieved distinction in many totally different spheres. He was a distinguished scientist in several separate fields, a noted explorer, a writer and a missionary.  But in assessing his achievements he seems to stand most prominently as a mystic and a man of God. [1]


[1]  Address given by Mr W A R Rae at the official opening of the Tenison Woods Mountain, 9 June 1974, as reported in The Leader, 16 June 1974.


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