Father Woods welcomes the Sisters of Saint Joseph at Port Adelaide, 23 June 1867.

Fr Julian Tenison Woods, 1866

On Tuesday, 25 June 1867, the following news item appeared in the Adelaide Advertiser. While the style of writing is not that of Father Woods himself, there is no doubt that he would have provided the information contained in it. Maybe, the writer was present in the church when Woods introduced the so-called sisters to the local congregation. What is clear is that Father Woods was canvassing for the Sisters of Saint Joseph, without mentioning that the two women from the boat were not easily recognisable as Sisters—they were very young and were dressed in black according to the style of the day. At no point did he mention the fact that there were just three Sisters of Saint Joseph, and that none of them had as yet become fully professed members of the Congregation.

What follows in the account of their first day in Adelaide as reported in the paper:

The Sisters of St Joseph arrived at the Port by the Penola on Sunday, the 23rd instant and proceeded directly to the Church of the Immaculate Conception. They were attended to the sanctuary by one of the ladies of the congregation. After the service some ladies and gentlemen waited to welcome the nuns amongst them. This wish was communicated to them by the Rev. Father Woods. When the nuns, accompanied by the reverend gentleman, presented themselves within the rails of the sanctuary one of the gentlemen present addressed them somewhat as follows:
Sisters of St Joseph, your presence today affords us much pleasure and we feel infinite gratification to be the first to welcome you to the diocese and we are pleased that you landed on the Sunday within the Octave of Corpus Christi. Another cause of gratification to us is to welcome you within the walls of this Church.

The Rev. Father Woods replied for the nuns:

I am sure the Sisters of St Joseph feel gratified at the reception you have given them. Taking into consideration the Church we are in, the nuns being Sisters of St Joseph and this day being the vigil of St John the Baptist, you may say you are in the midst of the Holy Family. On behalf of the nuns, then, I thank you for the welcome you have given them so soon after their arrival amongst us.
St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral Hall School 1867
The nuns remained at the Port until after the Benediction service in the evening and then proceeded to Adelaide, accompanied by the Rev. Father Woods, by the 6.30 train.

After that matters moved quickly and, on the following Tuesday, 2 July, they took charge of the Cathedral Hall School in central Adelaide dressed in their newly-designed religious habits.



Early photo of Mary MacKillop in her religious habit
Julian Tenison Woods, 1866
St Francis Xavier's Cathedral Hall School 1867
SS Penola, the boat the Sisters travelled on
St Mary's Church, Port Adelaide

Sr Marie Foale

Photos provided by Sr Marie Foale. Used with permission.