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Julian and the Lochinvar Sisters

Julian Tenison Woods

Julian Tenison Woods was born in London of Irish parents on 15 November 1832. After some years of preparation for the priesthood in England and France, he came to Tasmania as a lay chaplain to convicts, his heart set on the priesthood. His goal was reached in Adelaide two years later on 4 January 1857 when he was ordained.

For the next ten years Julian was Parish Priest of Penola, a huge bush parish in southeast South Australia, where in 1866 he and Mary MacKillop launched their new institute, the Sisters of St Joseph. For the next four years he was based in Adelaide. He was responsible for Catholic education in the diocese, the foundation and continued formation of the Sisters of St Joseph as the institute grew and spread, as well as other pastoral ministries.

The following eleven years saw Julian in a missionary life in vast areas of the eastern states and Tasmania. Along with giving missions, he founded the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Brisbane and gave new strength to the Bathurst foundation of Sisters of St Joseph at Perthville. Taking up again his work in natural science, an interest pursued at Penola, he made a significant contribution through investigation, talks and publications in geology, botany and related fields. He was also gifted musically and often sought as a public lecturer. 

In 1883, responding to a request to undertake mineral surveys in southeast Asia, he left Australia, returning three years later in broken health. He spent the subsequent and final two years of his life in Sydney as a progressively weaker invalid. He wrote then, dictated scientific papers, popular articles, letters and memoirs till no longer able. He died in Sydney on 7 October 1889.

In his foundation of the Sisters of St Joseph with Mary MacKillop and his work in Adelaide for Catholic education, he faced bitter and protracted opposition. Instead of being overcome by this, he lived out the courage and total trust in God that he taught the Sisters and the countless people who attended his missions. The life of this cheerful, talented, holy, humble man, preaching the love of God in the land he loved so much, comes as a light to us as we walk the same journey of faith in our time. We are enlivened by his guidance: 

We must desire to do good and have a great zeal for souls.
We must never leave a good work untried and never spare ourselves.
If after this our efforts fail, and our work is destroyed,
We must adore God and not be anxious or disturbed.
It is Godís work and not ours.
Julian Tenison Woods:
A Book of instructions for the Sisters of St Joseph, 1876