Father Woods Early Life
On 15 November we remember Father Julian Edmund Tenison Woods on his birthday. Julian, the co-founder with St Mary of the Cross MacKillop of the Sisters of St Joseph was born on that day in 1832. Colleen Power, a Sister of St Joseph from Tasmania has written of Father Woods’ family life, giving information of his parents and siblings and the influences they had on the man he became. Sister Colleen has kindly given permission for her article to be published on our website. It was first published on Mary MacKillop E-News 8 November 2017.
Birth of Julian Edmund Tenison Woods
Autumn with its myriad colours of gold and red, could be seen in the countryside. 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.
This child, Julian Edmund Tenison Woods, was the fifth surviving child born to James Dominik Woods and Henrietta Marie St Eloy Tenison on 15th 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 death of two children.
Birthplace, Southwark His mother Henrietta His father James Woods
Those readers of The Times the day following Julian’s birth, would have seen the announcement of his birth. Nearly three months later, on 1st 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 siblings were Edward, James, Nicholas and Henrietta. Three more children would complete the family – Terence, John, Charles (and one son died). Julian’s father, James, was one of a family of six – three brothers and two sisters. While Henrietta, Julian’s mother, was the fourth daughter of Reverend Joseph Tenison, an Anglican Clergyman.
The young couple, even though Irish born, were living near London and had been married in the Church of St-George’s-in-the-Fields on 16th August 1819. James and Henrietta’s brother, Thomas, were law student friends and, perhaps, this is how these two young people met.
The newlyweds had moved into a house in West Square, a few hundred yards from the Catholic Church. It was a substantial house and the family lived at No. 13 for seven years. With the gentleness of Henrietta, the education of James, the family grew up with love, care and learning in a neighbourhood of poor and working class people. The house was close to the southern bank of the Thames and the movements on the river and shore would have attracted the curiosity of the Woods’ lads.
From this tiny baby, Julian grew up to become a man of:
Great simplicity, courtesy, quietness of manner, a quiet cheerful voice and a ready kindly smile.1 Professor Liversidge 1890
The love he had for his family, Our Lady and nature were huge influences in his life both as a child and an adult. Julian, the child, the young man, the immigrant, the lover of creation, the love of faith and family, the founder, the priest died, 7 October 1889.
Colleen Power rsj
1 Julian ET Woods – Rev George O’Neill sj
Julian Tenison Woods: A Life by Mother Mary of the Cross MacKillop
Julian Tenison Woods: Father Founder by Margaret M Press rsj