Priest, Educator, Scientist, Writer, Musician, Public Speaker and Founder of Religious Orders

Julian was born in London of Irish parents, James Dominic Woods and Henrietta Tenison, on 15 November 1832. He came to Tasmania as a lay chaplain to convicts in 1855 with his heart set on the priesthood. His goal was reached in Adelaide 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 where he was responsible for Catholic education in the diocese and the foundation and continued formation of the Sisters of St Joseph as the institute grew. The following eleven years saw Julian as a travelling missionary giving retreats and missions in vast areas of the eastern states and Tasmania. In addition, he gave new strength to the Bathurst foundation of Sisters of St Joseph at Perthville. In these years, he also founded the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Brisbane.

As a scientist, Julian’s life became a part of the scientific progress and history of Australasia as he laboured with equally good results in the fields geology, botany, palaeontology and zoology. 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.

Fr Woods died in Sydney on 7 October 1889. His funeral was from St Mary’s Cathedral before his burial in the cemetery at Waverley.

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Father Woods’ Stamp, used
in Correspondence

Photos of Fr Tenison Woods © 2023 Trustees of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart ABN 33 293 441 659. All rights reserved. No unauthorised reproductions permitted.