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Priest and scientist, b. at Southwark, London, 15 Nov., 1832; d. at Sydney, New South Wales, 7 Oct., 1889, sixth son of James Dominick Woods, a lawyer, and Henrietta Mary St. Eloy (a convert ), second daughter of Rev. Joseph Tenison, Rector of Donoughmore, Wicklow, Ireland. He was baptized in the Belgian Chapel, Southwark, and was confirmed by Bishop (later Cardinal) Wiseman ; he was educated in a Catholic school at Hammersmith, and later at Newington Grammar School, Surrey. For a time he was employed on the staff of the "Times", and became interested in the work of the Catholic schools. In his eighteenth year he entered the Passionist novitiate, but, owing to ill-health, soon left. Going to the South of France he taught in Mont-Bel college for naval cadets at Toulon, where he developed a taste for geology and natural science. In France he met Bishop Willson of Hobart Town, Van Dieman's Land (Tasmania), whom he accompanied thither in 1854 as assistant in the Catholic schools. Later he went to Adelaide, and became sub-editor of the "Adelaide Times". Meanwhile he studied with the Austrian Jesuits at Sevenhill and was ordained priest at St. Patrick's, Adelaide, on 4 January, 1857. A large tract of country in the south-eastern district, having Penola for a centre and extending over 22,000 square miles, was entrusted to his charge. To provide for the Catholic education of the children in his extensive parish he founded at Penola in 1866 the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart , placing a Miss Mary MacKillop in charge of the first school. From this humble beginning the Sisters under Mother Mary (MacKillop) of the Cross have grown into the present flourishing congregation with numerous houses spread over Australia and New Zealand.

In 1866 Bishop Sheil of Adelaide appointed Father Woods his private secretary, chaplain and director-general of schools. In 1867 Sister mary, later mother-general, advisedly opened the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Joseph at Kensington near Norwood, Adelaide. She spent the whole of her religious life in Australia. In 1869 Father Woods founded the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, putting Brother Camillus (Terence Woods) at their head, for the work of boys' schools. At Father Woods's suggestion Bishop Sheil invited (1869) the Sevenhill Jesuits to establish themselves at Norwood. A gifted missionary, Father Woods, was invited (1870) by Bishop Quinn of Bathurst to give missions in his diocese ; and for eleven years he laboured with great success in New South Wales, Queensland, and Tasmania. During his absence, however, difficulties arose; by episcopal authority the Brothers were disbanded and the Sisters for a time dispersed. Their manner of observing poverty and their freedom from diocesan control were objected to. In a short time the storm subsided. Father Tappeiner, S.J., of Norwood, took Father Woods's place as director and friend. Mother Mary was sent to Rome by Bishop Reynolds, then (1873) administrator of the Diocese of Adelaide. Pius IX, 20 April, 1874, approved of the rule of the Sisters after it had been revised and reported on by Father Anderledy , later General of the Jesuits. The Sisters were allowed to live under central government, possess property, and accept fees for tuition. This was affirmed anew when Leo XIII erected the institute into a congregation, 25 July, 1888. During his apostolic labours Father Woods found opportunity for scientific pursuits.

His "Geological Observations in South Australia" (London, 1862) won him the friendship of Sir Charles Lyell. In 1883 he accepted the invitation of Sir Frederick Weld to visit Singapore. He then explored Malacca for minerals, traversed Java, and spent some time in Siam. That same year he received a gold medal from the King of Holland in recognition of his scientific labours. The British Admiralty requested him to report on the coal resources of the East, as he was probably then the leading authority on this subject. His discoveries were of great benefit to the British navy, and he was munificently recompensed by the Admiralty, which placed his reports in its archives. After visiting China and Japan his health became impaired, and on his homeward journey in H.M.S. "Flying Fish", before landing at Port Darwin, he visited several islands previously unknown. At the request of the government resident at Port Darwin, he thoroughly explored the mineral districts of the Northern Territory of South Australia. After a short visit to Queensland he returned to Sydney, where he gradually became paralysed. Some of his best work was done as an invalid. He received the passionist habit on his death-bed, and was buried in Waverley Cemetery, Sydney. Father Woods was a fellow of the Geological Society of London (1859), and was elected president of the Linnean Society of New South Wales in 1880. In addition to the works mentioned above, he wrote: "Not quite as old as the hills" (Melbourne, 1864); "History of the Discovery and Exploration of Australia" (London, 1865); "Fish and Fisheries of New South Wales" (Sydney, 1882); "Australian Essays"; "Australian Bibliography"; "On Natural History in New South Wales" (Sydney, 1882); "On the Volcano of Taal Philippines" (Sydney, 1887); "North Australia and its Physical Geography" (Adelaide, 1887); "Fisheries in Oriental Regions" (Sydney, 1888); "Anatomy and Life History of Mollusca" (Sydney, 1888), a prize essay which won the W.B. Clarke medal; "Desert Sand Stone of Australia" (Sydney, 1889); "On Vegetation in Malaysia" (Sydney, 1889); and "Geographical Notes in Malaysia and Asia" (Sydney, 18888). The catalogue of the Public Library, Adelaide, contains the names of seventy-nine books, pamphlets, and articles written by Father Woods; the articles, which treat chiefly of geology, conchology, and zoology, were mainly contributed to the journals of the various Australasian scientific societies.


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