Austin Maloney Woodbury S.M. (1899-1979) was born on 2 March, 1899 at Lower Mangrove (Spencer), New South Wales, Australia. He was the sixth child of Austin Herbert Woodbury and his wife Margaret, nee Maloney, who had eleven children. His family was devoutly Catholic. Four of his sisters joined religious orders. From an early age Woodbury showed great intellectual promise and a love of learning. He discerned a vocation to the religious life and entered the Society of Mary (Marist Fathers) in 1918, completing his secondary studies at the juniorate in Sydney and Mittagong (1919-20). On 7 March 1921, the feast of St Thomas Aquinas, he entered the New Zealand Marist Novitiate at “Greenmeadows” Seminary in Hawkes Bay, Napier and took his first vows on 2 February, 1923. Woodbury was sent to Rome in 1926 for further studies at the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas in the City (Angelicum). There he was taught by the prominent Dominican theologian Fr Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange O.P (1874-1964). He completed two doctorates in a very short space of time between 1927-1928. During his time in Rome he was ordained to the priesthood on 31 July, 1927. On his return from Rome in 1928 he was sent to New Zealand where he taught at St Patrick’s College, Wellington and then at Greenmeadows (1930-36). From 1938 to 1943 he became founding rector of Bl. Peter Chanel Seminary, Toongabbie, NSW.
On 7 March, 1945 Dr Woodbury established the Aquinas Academy in Sydney. The Academy was a school of philosophy and theology open to the laity, which, as the name suggests, sought to especially promote the teachings of St Thomas Aquinas. During the period 1945 to 1974 Dr Woodbury taught courses in both philosophy and theology, and at the height of his teaching an average of 600 students would enrol each year. He retired from the Academy in 1974 and died in Sydney on 3 February, 1979.
J. Thornhill, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 16, (MUP), 2002.
A. Woodbury. Introduction to Philosophy ed A.F. Wood. St John Centre for Biblical Studies, Sydney, 2015.