Cardijn Lecture: Reform or Revolution? The English YCS and the pursuit of a spiritual ’68

ACI is pleased to announce that the Cardijn Lecture for 2023 will be presented on Thursday 13 December 2023 by Dr Alana Harris from King’s College London.

The topic of her lecture will be “Reform or Revolution? The English Young Christian Students and their Pursuit of a Spiritual ’68.”

Full registration details below.

Dr Alana Harris

Originally from Shepparton, Victoria, Dr Alana Harris is a Reader in Modern British Social, Cultural, and Gender History at King’s College London, having previously acted as the Director of Liberal Arts and taught as a Fellow at Lincoln College, University of Oxford.

She has authored eight books, including the pathbreaking Faith in the Family: A Lived Religious History of English Catholicism, 1945-1982 (MUP, 2013) and her most recent publication, The Oxford History of British and Irish Catholicism, 1914-2021 (OUP, 2023).

Adopting an interdisciplinary and intersectional methodology to explore ‘lived religion’, she has emerged as one of the foremost practitioners of this approach, which combines insights from anthropology and ethnography, sociology and the emergent history of emotions.

A distinctive expertise as the foremost historian of modern British Catholicism was forged through her doctoral studies on the impact of the Second Vatican Council on the devotional lives of English Catholics and consolidated through a chapter on English Catholicism (and the liturgical movement) within Kathleen Sprows Cummings, Timothy Matovina and Robert A. Orsi’s Catholics in the Vatican II Era: Local Histories of a Global Event (CUP, 2017).

With Niall Coll (Bishop of Ossory), she co-authored two chapters on British and Irish Catholicism (English and German translation) to be published next year in the 12 volume international series Vatican II – Legacy and Mandate (2024)

Her broader research specialisms, advanced in numerous book chapters and journal articles, encompass histories of gender and sexuality; ethnicity and migration; devotional cultures; pilgrimage; urban religiosity and material religion.

1950s English YCS logo

Webinar Details

Thursday 14 December 2023, 7pm AEDT (8am UK)

Registration link:

Previous Cardijn Lectures

2022: Cardinal Michael Czerny SJ, Siblings All, Signs of the Times – The Social Teaching of Pope Francis

2021: Professor Rafael Luciani, The emergence of synodality

Path of redemption marked by the poor: Pope Francis

In a message marking the 10th anniversary of his 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis re-emphasised the centrality of the poor in the Church’s joyful proclamation of salvation in Christ.

The message was addressed to participants in a symposium on Evangelii Gaudium organised by the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development.

Pope Francis noted that although the difficulties are sometimes “less explicit” they are “perhaps more insidious.”

“Since they are not so visible, [modern difficulties] operate like anesthesia or like the carbon monoxide of old stoves that silently kills,” Pope Francis said. “Throughout history, human weakness, the unhealthy search for oneself, comfortable selfishness, and ultimately, concupiscence that lurks within all of us, are always present.”

Our redemption linked with the poor

He recalled that Evangelii Gaudium sought to make it clear that the Church’s evangelising mission and our Christian life “cannot disregard the poor”.

“The entire path of our redemption is marked by the poor. Everything,” he said.

Jesus himself, Pope Francis observed, was born in a stable, worked with his hands, and put the poor and dispossessed “at the center of His heart.”

He said the Church must resist any attempt to relativise Jesus’ “clear, direct, simple and eloquent message…because our salvation is at stake here.”

“Therefore, the Pope cannot help but place the poor at the centre,” he said. “It is not politics, sociology, or ideology; it is simply and purely the requirement of the Gospel.”

He said the practical consequences of this “non-negotiable principle” must be borne out in every ecclesial institution and individual Christian.

“What no one can evade or excuse themselves from is the debt of love that every Christian—and, I dare say, every human being—owes to the poor,” he said.

Inequality at root of all social ills

Pope Francis also emphasised that Evangelii Gaudium urged Christians to address the problem which he said lies at the root of poverty and social evils: inequality.

He renewed his calls for new social structures and a new mentality that overturn the “absolute autonomy of market forces and financial speculation.”

“If we do not achieve this change in mentality and structures, we are doomed to see the climate, health, migration, and particularly violence and wars deepen, endangering the entire human family, both poor and non-poor, integrated and excluded,” he said.

The Pope noted that his first encyclical, Laudato si’, grew out of his realisation that the climate crisis is rooted in the “inequality of this economy that kills”.

Listening to cry of the poor

In conclusion, the Holy Father urged Christians to listen to the cries of the poor and the earth, so that we might fulfill our evangelising mission and live as Jesus has invited us to do.

“Thank you again for this Symposium,” he said. “Thank you for what you do. I bless you and accompany you with prayer.”


Pope on Evangelii Gaudium: ‘Redemption marked by the poor’ (Vatican News)

IYCW warns against fake news

Addressing the 42nd Session of the General Conference of UNESCO in Paris from 7-22 November 2023, IYCW president, Basma Louis, stressed the importance of raising awareness among young people by providing training spaces to compensate for the failure of public institutions.

She also warned of the dangers of social media.

“Social media have become a space for unchecked information; fake news and historical revisionism have flooded them and are promoted by those who profit from the distortion of history,” Ms Louis stated.

“We are witnessing clear white supremacy and racism in dealing with different conflicts in the world today, which is having an impact on our mentalities, our sense of security and our vision of humanity, questioning our future,” she observed.

YCW centenary 2025

In her address, Ms Louis also spoke of the forthcoming centenary of the IYCW in 2025 and the importance of the movement’s educational work:

“In 2025, the IYCW will celebrate its 100 years of existence, 100 years of space offered to young people from all over the world for their training and education, because our educational mission is one of our essential tasks, which consists in making young workers aware not only of their labour rights, but also of their rights as human beings and respect for one another.”

In her concluding remarks, Ms Louis also praised UNESCO’s contribution to peacebuilding through international cooperation in education and guidance.

“Let’s continue on this path to build a peaceful future for the new generations,” she concluded.


The IYCW at UNESCO: Let’s Build a Peaceful Future for the New Generations (IYCW)

Barron highlights vocation of the 99%

Bishop Robert Barron, founder of Word on Fire ministries and bishop of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota in the USA, has said that he emphasised the vocation of lay people during the First Assembly of the Synod on Synodality in Rome in October 2023.

“A question that I raised several times in the small group conversations,” however, ” he wrote on his blog, “was whether, in our enthusiasm to include people in the governance of the Church, we forget that the vocation of 99 percent of the Catholic laity is to sanctify the world, to bring Christ into the arenas of politics, the arts, entertainment, communication, business, medicine, etc., precisely where they have special competence.

“Generally speaking, I was worried that both the Instrumentum Laboris and the synod conversations were far more preoccupied with the ad intra than with the ad extra, and this despite the fact that Pope Francis has been consistently calling for a Church that goes out from itself.

“On a number of occasions during the synod, I proposed the Catholic Action model that was, in the preconciliar period, such an effective way to form the laity in their mission to the world,” he added.


Bishop Robert Barron, My experience of the Synod (Word on Fire)


BenedictKJS / CC0

Canadian couple serve poor and unemployed

After Joe and Stephanie Mancini graduated in 1982 from St Jerome’s University, a federated partner of the University of Waterloo, they opened  The Working Centre in downtown Kitchener to serve people facing unemployment and poverty in the community, reports Jaime Philip from St Jerome’s University.

The couple saw the potential for building a community of interest around responding to unemployment and poverty, developing social analysis and engaging in creative action.

On 9 November, St Jerome’s University welcomed the Mancini’s back to campus as part of the Lectures in Catholic Experience series to share their reflections on the roots of The Working Centre and the philosophical principles that ground this work.

Stemming from the Church’s social teachings and significantly influenced by The Catholic Worker Movement, the married couple embody the ideals of a branch of philosophy known as personalism that prioritizes a life of serving others, radical sharing and love of neighbour.

The Working Centre model has used the Pastoral Circle to inform its approach to the crisis of poverty, joblessness and homelessness in the Waterloo region.

“The first step in this process is to walk with the experience of the people who have been left behind and actively listen and reflect on what they shared to help us understand the experience of others,” says Stephanie Mancini.

“From there, we need to start asking critical questions that seek to explain the larger social or economic factors contributing to these challenges. The next step involves reflecting on our six virtues that inform this work — serving others, living simply, working as a gift, rejecting status, building community and creating community tools. Taking this personalist approach ensures that we are being other-centred and developing a common unity. And the last step is to take practical action, to improve things and constantly integrate new learnings to build community supports.” 

“The Working Centre is a dynamic living system that grows and evolves from these fundamental building blocks,” adds Joe Mancini. “All our projects, staff, and volunteers work together in an interconnected village of support.”  

The recent pandemic and the current socio-economic climate have exasperated the number of people who are experiencing homelessness, mental health challenges and substance use. The Working Centre’s response using the Pastoral Circle has been to stretch deeply to help establish more than 230 shelter beds in Kitchener-Waterloo that are open 24/7, effectively doubling the former shelter system while expanding food production that now distributes 700 meals daily. 

“Modelling Catholic Action’s ‘see, judge, act’ methodology of social analysis, since 1982, Joe and Stephanie’s work has promoted justice and improved the lives of so many in our community,” says Peter Meehan, president and vice-chancellor of St Jerome’s University.  “Their commitment to the needs of others embodies the very highest values and aspirations that we at St Jerome’s University have of our graduates.”

The Working Centre website summarises its areas of work as follows:

The Working Centre’s main projects give people access to tools to create their own work combined with continuous ways of learning and co-operating. The Working Centre organizes its projects into six areas; the Job Search Resource Centre, St. John’s Kitchen, Community Tools, Access to Technology, Affordable Supportive Housing and the Waterloo School for Community Development.

The Working Centre is a nonprofit organization with charitable status that is governed by a Board of Directors. This group of dedicated individuals typically serve the organization in this capacity for five to ten years. Our mode of operation is the building of relationships and trust where each member becomes involved in one or two aspects of the Centre’s work in a way that develops first hand knowledge and understanding. We have been fortunate to be served by individuals who have provided long-term stability and foresight for the Centre.


Building an interconnected village of support (University of Waterloo)

The Working Centre

Webinar: Community organising in Australia

Former YCS leaders, Devett Kennedy and Chantelle Ogilvie will present the January 2024 ACI webinar on “Community Organising in Australia.”

They will share their experience of working with the Queensland Community Alliance and Sydney Alliance respectively.

Both of these alliances draw their inspiration from the US community organising tradition, in particular, the Saul Alinsky-inspired Industrial Areas Foundation, whose work was recently praised by Pope Francis as “atomic.”

Registration details below.


Devett Kennedy

Devett Kennedy (nee O’Brien) is the Lead Organiser of the Queensland Community Alliance. He has served in this role since 2018, after joining the Alliance in 2015 as an organiser.

Previously, he was also a member of and fulltime worker for the Australian Young Christian Students (YCS) movement. He also served as Secretary-General of the International Young Catholic Students.

From Paris to Whyalla to Woodridge, Devett has 20 years experience in developing ordinary citizens as transformative leaders in their own lives, their communities and the broader society through values-based social action.

Devett has been the organiser behind much of the Alliance’s most successful organising including funding better public transport in Logan, Establishment of community maternity hubs, and Concession fares for people seeking asylum.

He passionately believes that building habits of relational power, deep listening, public action, and strong organisation are our best hope of creating lasting democratic change.

Devett is active in the St Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Parish in Marsden, Queensland. 

Chantelle Ogilvie

Chantelle Ogilvie-Ellis is Co-Lead Organiser for the Sydney Alliance. She first joined the Alliance as a leader representing the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, where she served as Justice and Peace Promoter, supporting church communities to live out their social mission. In 2014 she took up a staff organiser role with the Alliance, as Community Organiser for the People Seeking Asylum Campaign, supporting a powerful, diverse team that helped to secure transport concessions, fee-free TAFE and access to early childhood education and care for people seeking asylum living in Sydney. In April 2023 she stepped into the role of Co-Lead Organiser, at the head of a team of organising staff working across a broad agenda including housing, energy, climate and cost of living, solidarity with First Nations, temporary migrants, and neurodiversity.

Chantelle has a Masters of Arts (Theology) and Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communications). She was part of the inaugural Young Catholic Women’s Interfaith Fellowship in 2006, has lectured and tutored in theology at a number of Catholic institutions, and has published articles on Catholic mission and identity, organisational change, and the spirituality of democratic participation.

Chantelle’s vocation in social justice began as Diocesan Coordinator for the Parramatta Young Christian Students from 2004 – 2006, after which she worked for the Australian Young Christian Workers and Young Christian Students as World Youth Day 2008 Coordinator, and served as National Adults Assistant on the AYCS National Team.

She has three children, is proudly Filipino-Australian and lives in Western Sydney, where she worships in the Diocese of Parramatta.


Tuesday 30 January 2024, 7pm AEDT



Queensland Community Alliance

Sydney Alliance

Industrial Areas Foundation

Theology needs a courageous cultural revolution: Pope Francis

What the world and the Church need today is “a fundamentally contextual theology,” writes Pope Francis in a new Motu Proprio entitled Ad theologiam promovendam.

Published on 1 November 2023, the Motu Proprio updates the statutes of the Pontifical Academy of Theology.

The objective is to ensure that the work of the academy is “more suited to the mission that our times impose on theology”.

Opening up to the world and to humanity, “with its problems, its wounds, its challenges, its potential”, theological reflection must make room for “an epistemological and methodological rethinking”, and is therefore called to “a courageous cultural revolution,” Pope Francis says.

What is needed is “a fundamentally contextual theology” that is “capable of reading and interpreting the Gospel in the conditions in which men and women live daily, in different geographical, social, and cultural environments.”


Theology must “develop in a culture of dialogue and encounter between different traditions and different disciplines, between different Christian denominations and different religions,” Pope Francis continues.

It must engage “openly with all, believers and non-believers alike”.

“This is the approach of transdisciplinarity”, Francis specifies. The Apostolic Constitution Veritatis gaudium explains that this means “situating and stimulating all disciplines against the backdrop of the Light and Life offered by the Wisdom streaming from God’s Revelation.

Theology must “make use of new categories developed by other forms of knowledge, in order to penetrate and communicate the truths of faith and transmit the teaching of Jesus in today’s languages, with originality and critical awareness,” the pope insists.

It is a discipline that must not be “abstract and ideological, but spiritual… worked out on one’s knees, pregnant with adoration and prayer; a transcendent discipline and, at the same time, attentive to the voice of the people”.

It is a “popular theology mercifully addressed to the open wounds of humanity and creation and within the folds of human history, to which it prophesies the hope of an ultimate fulfilment.”

Theology, as a whole, must therefore take on a “pastoral stamp”, and theological reflection must start “from the different contexts and concrete situations in which peoples find themselves,” placing itself “at the service of evangelisation.”


Pope: Theology must interpret the Gospel for today’s world (Vatican News)

Video: Laudate Deum

Following on from his 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis published a new apostolic exhortation, Laudate Deum, on 3 October 2023.

To introduce this new document, ACI invited Jacqui Remond (Australian Catholic University), Tony Smith (Tasmania), Sherie Chant (Kolbe College, WA), and Irene Baik (Parramatta YCSà to present their reflections at our October webinar,


Mass at the Catacombs

On Saturday 21 October, ACI, the Cardijn Cardijn Community and the two YCW Internationals (IYCW and ICYCW) hosted a special mass at the St Domitilla Catacombs to celebrate the memory of Blessed Enrique Angelelli and Jose Serapio (Pepe) Palacio, the co-founders of the YCW in the Diocese of Cordoba, Argentina.

This year also marks the centenary of the birth of both men, who were born in 1923.

Both were also killed by the military during Spain’s Dirty War in 1975 and 1976. As a result, Amalia, Pepe’s wife, also a former YCW leader, was left alone to raise their children.

Celebrating the memorial Mass were Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, Bishops Shane Mackinlay (Sandhurst, Australia), Bishop Dante Braida (La Rioja, Argentina), Fr Clarence Devadass (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), and Mgr Josef Sayer (Germany).

Mass participants included Synod subsecretary, Sr Nathalie Becquart, Clémence Otekpo (ICYCW), Basma Louis (IYCW), Stefan Gigacz (ACI), Kris Kummari (International Catholic Rural Youth – MIJARC), former ACI president, Brian Lawrence and others.

Pepe Palacio

Pepe, a trade union leader, was active for many years with the YCW and also with the Christian Workers Movement. He had only recently been elected as the first lay collaborator (chaplain) of the International YCW and he had only recently returned to Argentina from Bogota, Colombia, where he took part in a Workers Meeting organised by the IYCW before he “disappeared.”

Amalia Palacio

Amalia Castano de Palacio

In another kind of martyrdom, Amalia, Pepe’s wife was left to raise their family alone. She died without ever finding out what had happened to her husband. Years later after the end of the dictatorship, their son, Jose Luis, was able to confirm his death at the hands of the military from information in the national archives.

Bishop Enrique Angelelli (left) with local people

Enrique Angelelli

As well as being a YCW chaplain, Enrique Angelelli was also a chaplain to the students movement, the JUC. And as a bishop in La Rioja, he worked closely with leaders from the rural Specialised Catholic Action movements.

Bishop Angelelli was also an original signatory of the Pact of the Catacombs adopted by Vatican II bishops, who wished to commit themselves to the poor and to the poor. Their pact was inspired by Joseph Cardijn’s consecration to the working class in 1903.

He was killed while returning from a mass in homage to two fellow priests, the Franciscan Carlos Murias and the French fidei donum priest, Gabriel Longueville.


Catacombs Mass (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

The Mass

Pepe & Amalia Palacio

Enrique Angelelli

Pact of the Catacombs

The confidence of St Therese

On 15 October 2023, Pope Francis published an Apostolic Exhortation entitled “C’est la confiance” (It’s confidence) in memory of St Therese of Lisieux, patron saint of the YCW and other Specialised Catholic Action movements.

“It is confidence and nothing but confidence that must lead us to love,” was St Therese’s phrase that inspired the title of the exhortation.

These words summed up “the genius of her spirituality and would suffice to justify the fact that she has been named a Doctor of the Church,” the pope said.

In his exhortation, Pope Francis retraces the steps by which his predecessors came to recognise the extraordinary value of Therese’s spiritual witness.

Beginning with Pope Leo XIII, who allowed her to enter the convent at the age of 15, he moves on to Pius XI, who proclaimed her a saint in 1925 and in 1927 patron saint of missions.

Seventy years later in 1997, Pope John Paul II declared her a Doctor of the Church in 1997.

“Finally,” Francis recalled, “in 2015, I had the joy of canonising her parents, Louis and Zelie, during the Synod on the Family.” More recently, I devoted one of my weekly General Audience talks to her.”A missionary soul’s love for Jesus

In her cell, the Saint from Lisieux wrote: “Jesus is my one love.” Analysing her spiritual experience, Pope Francis noted that her encounter with Jesus “summoned her to the mission,” so much so that she did not conceive “her consecration to God apart from the pursuit of the good of her brothers and sisters.”

“I feel that the more the fire of love burns within my heart (…) the more also the souls who will approach me (poor little piece of iron, useless if I withdraw from the divine furnace), the more these souls will run swiftly in the odour of the ointments of their Beloved, for a soul that is burning with love cannot remain inactive,” she said.

The “little way” way of trust and love

“One of the most important insights of Therese for the benefit of the entire People of God is her ‘little way’,” Pope Francis writes, “he path of trust and love, also known as the way of spiritual childhood. Everyone can follow this way, whatever their age or state in life. It is the way that the heavenly Father reveals to the little ones (cf. Mt 11:25).”

He continues:

In the Story of a Soul, Therese tells how she discovered the little way: “I can, then, in spite of my littleness, aspire to holiness. It is impossible for me to grow up, and so I must bear with myself such as I am, with all my imperfections. But I want to seek out a means of going to heaven by a little way, a way that is very straight, very short, and totally new”. 

To describe that way, she uses the image of an elevator: “the elevator which must raise me to heaven is your arms, O Jesus! And for this, I had no need to grow up, but rather I had to remain little and become this more and more.” Little, incapable of being confident in herself, and yet firmly secure in the loving power of the Lord’s arms.

This is the “sweet way of love” that Jesus sets before the little and the poor, before everyone. It is the way of true happiness. In place of a Pelagian notion of holiness, individualistic and elitist, more ascetic than mystical, that primarily emphasizes human effort, Therese always stresses the primacy of God’s work, his gift of grace. As a result, she could say: “I always feel, however, the same bold confidence of becoming a great saint, because I don’t count on my merits, since I have none, but I trust in him who is Virtue and Holiness. God alone, content with my weak efforts, will raise me to himself and make me a saint, clothing me in his infinite merits.”

What counts for Therese then is God’s action, grace, not personal merit, because it is the Lord who sanctifies.

“It is most fitting, then, that we should place heartfelt trust not in ourselves but in the infinite mercy of a God who loves us unconditionally and has already given us everything in the Cross of Jesus Christ.”


Pope: Therese of Lisieux teaches us love and trust in God’s mercy (Vatican News)

Pope Francis, C’est la confiance (

Contribution to the Synod First Assembly

Over 120 current and former local, national and international leaders of various lay apostolate movements and groups from 32 countries – many from the Global South – have added their names to a Contribution to the First Assembly of the Synod on Synodality.

According to Australian Cardijn Institute secretary, Stefan Gigacz, the statement aims to draw Synod participants’ attention to several issues:

a) The need for a clear focus on the promotion of the lay apostolate of lay people as envisaged particularly in Lumen Gentium §31, Gaudium et Spes §43 and more generally in Apostolicam Actuositatem.

b) The need for better representation among participants in the First Assembly of the Synod of international Catholic (lay) movements and networks.

Such movements were extensively represented in the later Sessions of Vatican II and also at the Synod on the Laity in 1987. Indeed, many of these movements were pioneers in the promotion of the laity and indeed of what we would now characterise as a synodal way of working.

c) The need for a fresh look at the provisions of Apostolicam Actuositatem §26, which clearly called for more representative and participative structures involving grassroots lay movements and organisations from local to global level.

He noted that the statement addressed a series of longstanding concerns dating back to the Second Vatican Council.

“During the Council, the lay apostolate movements also known as Specialised Catholic Action movements successfully advocated for representative Church structures that would involve the lay movements at parish, diocesan, national and international level. The Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, Apostolicam Actuositatem adopted these proposals in its §26.

“But to the great disappointment of Cardijn and the leaders of the lay movements, these reforms were not implemented when the first Vatican Council of the Laity was established in 1967. Today, the current Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life is still not a representative body.”

“This is surely an issue that needs to be addressed by the Synod on Synodality;” he added.

Signatories to the statement include Emeritus Bishop of Darwin, Eugene Hurley, Rienzie Rupasinghe, a member of the first Pontifical Council of the Laity (PCL) in 1967, Patricia Jones, another former member of the PCL.

Joceline Minerve, former Minister of Social Welfare in Mauritius, is another prominent signatory as is former Pax Romana ICMICA president, Kevin Ahern.

Current international YCW leaders, Clémence Otekpo (ICYCW) and Basma Louis (IYCW), are also among the signatories as are former IYCW presidents Rienzie Rupasinghe, Juanito Penequito (Philippines), Felix Ollarves (Venezuela), Moses Cloete (South Africa), Geethani Peries (Sri Lanka), Ludovicus Mardiyono (Indonesia) and Sarah Prenger (Germany).

Groups and movements that have endorsed the statement include Cardijn Community International, Australian Cardijn Institute, Cardijn Community Australia, Cardijn Community Zambia, International Young Christian Workers, Cardijn Associates USA, Woori Theology Institute, Seoul, Korea, Asian Lay Leaders Network, the Splendour Project and other signatories.

The statement is dated 1 October 2023, Feast of St Therese of Lisieux, patron of the Young Christian Workers and Specialised Catholic Action.


Contribution to the First Assembly of the Synod on Synodality 2023

Movement proposal for a representative Council of the Laity at the Holy See 1964

Cardijn’s critique 1967

Webinar: Laudato Deum: Pope Francis’ new apostolic exhortation

Our next ACI webinar on Tuesday 10 October 2023 will focus on Pope Francis’ newly announced apostolic exhortation, Laudato Deum, which is due to be published on 4 October.

Special guest for our webinar will be Jacqui Remond, former director of Catholic Earthcare, currently a lecturer at Australian Catholic University and a member of the Vatican Ecology Taskforce.

Joining her will be Tony Smith, a former YCW leader from South Africa, now animating parish groups in northern Tasmania.

Also joining the panel will be Sherie Chant, a teacher at Kolbe College, Rockingham, WA, Irene Baik from the Parramatta YCS and other community leaders.


7.30pm, Tuesday 10 October 2023


What happened to the US Church’s labor links?

While summertime may be over in the US, the spirit of this “Hot Labor Summer” continued into autumn, when the United Auto Workers declared a strike against America’s “Big Three” automakers, Ford, General Motors and Stellantis (a multinational corporation that includes Chrysler Motors), the first time all three major U.S. automakers were targeted in U.A.W. history, writes Michael O’Brien at America Magazine.

While the nation will watch to see both the economic and political effects of the strike, the presence of the Catholic Church has played a hand in the mission of the United Auto Workers long before this most recent strike, O’Brien says.

Connections between the church and U.A.W. activism go all the way back to the fight to save Poletown, Mich., a neighborhood of Detroit (the U.A.W.’s birthplace) named for the presence of the predominantly Polish immigrants who first came to the community seeking jobs in the auto industry.

“Historically, the United Auto Workers has been among the unions most informed by Catholic social teaching,” Joseph McCartin, the executive director of the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University, told America. “I think this is because so many auto workers were Catholic when the union was being formed in the ’30s and ’40s in cities like Detroit and Flint, and also because a number of the activists who were involved in the early U.A.W. were influenced by their Catholicism.”

However, Clayton Sinyai, the executive director of the Catholic Labor Movement, told America that he felt there could be a stronger Catholic presence in the current U.A.W. strike, much in the same way that Msgr. George Higgins, known nationally as “The Labor Priest,” served as the chairman of the U.A.W.’s public review board.

He noted that despite the church’s historic connection to labor, there was not much evidence of a strong Catholic presence during “Hot Labor Summer.” That contrasts with past experiences of strong union action when Catholic leaders were side-by-side with labor officials. Mr. Sinyai told America, “I think there are still a few [prominent Catholic] figures, but not on the level that Msgr. Higgins was at.” He noted that he would “love to see someone [at the U.S. bishops’ conference] doing that work.”

“The shrinking size also explains a lot about the alienation of the church and the labor movement that were very close in the mid-20th century. In the ’50s and ’60s, probably every pastor had union members on their parish council. They understood what the labor movement did, and that’s a lot less true today,” he said.


As the U.A.W. strike expands, Catholics are asking: Where’s the modern-day labor priest? (America Magazine)


United Auto Workers

RIP Fr Joe, sociologist and YCW chaplain

Maltese YCW chaplain and sociologist, Fr Joe Inguanez, 80, has died while swimming at a beach in Gozo.

Fr Inguanez, who was born in Ħal-Għaxaq in 1943 and ordained a priest in 1970, “was an intellectual whose gentle yet uncompromising views of society and Catholicism in modern-day Malta won him plaudits from those whose attention he commanded,” writes Matthew Vella at Malta Today.

“Having headed Discern, a Catholic think-tank that used applied research to keep guiding the Maltese Church, Inguanez, who lectured at the University of Malta’s Department of Sociology and had also been its head of department, became a prominent cleric in Maltese society,” he continues.

“Apart from his towering persona in his field of academia, Inguanez stood apart from many of his fellow clerics for promoting an intellectual criticism of the Maltese Catholic Church.h

He was also spoke out against what he saw as lack of leadership in the Church

“I honestly feel that the Maltese Church is at a standstill.  This is always dangerous but much more so in times of the rapid change we are experiencing at both the ecclesial and social sphere,” Inguanez had said at a time of historic reforms in civil liberties,

“One cannot stop one’s boat in a flowing river. Critical decisions need to be taken urgently. However, blood-letting is not a solution. While every Christian has to take an action – even through the promotion of healthy public opinion – the institutional leadership of the Church needs a shake-up.”

“In Malta, we need to re-create the conscience of Vatican Council II. The Church still needs updating. Change is a neutral concept and instead of being afraid of it we should turn it into a positive dynamic of our being both at the material and spiritual level… This is what Pope Francis is not simply telling us to do, but is also showing us how to do it by his example.”

He believed the Maltese Church had to emphasise social issues like immigration. “On immigration, the Church in Malta is doing a lot when it comes to hands-on assistance and this is in line with Pope Francis’s message. What it should do more is by way of denunciation of the policies which exclude migrants.”

He also insisted that the Church’s critique should address both Malta’s actions and the European Union’s. “We need a critique of what the European Union is doing with regards to these human beings. Individualism has made us very selective where human rights are concerned.”

“Fr Joe was a true Cardijn disciple, always concerned to promote the life and vocation of young workers, workers in general and the lay apostolate, particularly through his untiring support for the YCW,” ACI secretary, Stefan Gigacz, wrote in a message to the Maltese ZHN (YCW).


Sociologist Joe Inguanez, intellectual and prominent cleric, dies aged 80 (Malta Today)


Fr Joe Inguanez / Malta Today

Webinar: Training for transformation – The Paulo Freire method

Mauritius priest and social activist, Fr Filip Fanchette, will be the presenter for our next ACI webinar on Tuesday 12 September at 7.30pm AEST.

He will address the topic “Training for transformation – The Paulo Freire method.”

Paulo Freire

Born in Recife, Brazil in 1921, Paulo Freire, was an educator, who became best known in the English-speaking world for his book “Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” which explained his method of consciousness-raising among the illiterate poor.

During the early 1960s, Freire worked closely with Archbishop Helder Camara and other Brazilian lay leaders from the jocist movements, who were also among the pioneers of the Basic Christian Communities movement. As Freire acknowledged himself, his methods owed much to the see-judge-act method of the jocist Specialised Catholic Action movements.

Freire was imprisoned for 70 days following the military coup in Brazil in 1964, ending up in exile in Bolivia for a short period before moving to Chile where he was able to continue his educative work.

A Christian socialist, he later worked for the World Council of Churches in Geneva as a special education adviser.

He died in 1997.

Filip Fanchette

Mauritian Fr Filip Fanchette studied for the priesthood in Rome before eventually going to study and work with the Paris-based INODEP (Ecumenical Institute for the Development of Peoples), whose founder and first president was Paulo Freire.

He later followed in Paulo Freire’s footsteps to become director of adult education at the World Council of Churches.

Since then, Fr Filip has worked around the world training grassroots groups. For example, he contributed greatly to the development of the DELTA training program in Kenya, organized by Anne Hope and Sally Timmel, later written up as Training for Transformation.

As a result of his work a small team who had participated in the training started working informally in the UK with a number of groups. Participants included church groups, community projects and workers in NGOs. The team members also applied the principles in their own work settings, including academic social policy, theology, community work and industrial mission.

He will present the ACI webinar together with several of his former students and collaborators from South Africa.


Date and time: Tuesday 12 September 2023, 7.30pm AEST


New lay chaplain for Catholic uni students

Greg Lopez

The International Catholic Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS) has announced the appointment of Dr Greg Lopez, lecturer at Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia, as Assistant Coordinator of its Commission of Animators & Chaplains for the Asia-Pacific region.

Now a management lecturer, Dr Lopez has had extensive experience working with young people. He belonged to the La Salle Sentul high school Young Christian Students (YCS) team in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

In 2001, he worked as an intern with the Catholic international development agency, CIDSE, and the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF) supporting their advocacy efforts in the WTO Doha Development round.

From 2003-2008, he was a volunteer coordinator for the Young People for Development (YPD) network.

He has been a member of the Cardijn Community International since 2002 and was previously a board member of the Australian Cardijn Institute. Currently, he is a member of the Joseph Cardijn Digital Library working group.

In his role with the IMCS, Greg will be tasked with supporting Fr Jiju Kevillil SJ, the Coordinator of the Asia Pacific Commission of animators and chaplains, coordinating meetings of the chaplaincy team, assisting with the formation of current and future animators and chaplains. He will serve a two year term.

Quote from Greg: “This is an immense blessing, honour, and responsibility. Cardinal Cardijn promoted organisations in which young people are given responsibility and the opportunity to exercise their God given mission. I am grateful for the opportunity to accompany these young people in fulfilling this mission.”

Quote from Fr. Dr. Jojo M. Fung, SJ, IMCS, International Ecclesiastical Assistant:

IMCS is as strong as the lay animators and chaplains who accompanied the tertiary students are adequately formed in the Catholic Papal and Social Teachings of the Church. IMCS counts our blessings in having Dr Greg Lopez as an assistant coordinator of APCAC as he brings with him his competent experiences in management and advocacy with the international development agency, CIDSE, the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF) in the WTO Doha Development round.

Quote from Bertha Samponu, IMCS Asia Pacific Coordinator:

As the student organization, the presence of chaplains and lay animators plays an important role to assist and accompany. To lead and coordinate the region, a student coordinator must have a good chaplaincy team where she/he can share and ask for advice and suggestions.

On behalf of IMCS AP, I am pleased to welcome Dr Lopez, and look for more meaningful assistance to the students’ leaders, national movements’ teams, regional coordination, and the AP- Chaplains, Animators and Elders Commission.

Video: Léon Ollé-Laprune & the origin of the see-judge-act

Stefan Gigacz presented the August ACI webinar on Léon Ollé-Laprune, the French philosopher, who first articulated the method that we today know as the “see-judge-act.”

Born in 1839, Léon Ollé-Laprune studied philosophy at the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) in Paris. As a student, he read the works of Alphonse Gratry, who had been chaplain at the ENS. As a Christian, he modelled his life on that of Frédéric Ozanam, seeking to make himself a “lay apostle.” As a social activist, he followed in the footsteps of Frédéric Le Play, the pioneer sociologist whose method of social enquiry so influenced Cardijn.

As an academic, he influenced a whole generation of future French leaders, including Jean Jaurès, founder of the French Socialist Party, the sociologist Emile Durkheim, and the philosophers, Maurice Blondel and Henri Bergson.

Writing in 1896, he advised students to learn to “see clearly, judge and decide” in order to address the challenges of the time.

Léon Ollé-Laprune died in 1898, 125 years ago this year. The method he inspired would sweep the world with Cardijn’s Young Christian Workers and its sister movements before being adopted by Pope John XXIII in 1961 and by the Second Vatican Council in 1965.


50 years of Gustavo Gutierrez’s Theology of Liberation

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of the first English edition of Gustavo Gutierrez’s landmark book, Theology of Liberation, writes Leo Guardado, a presenter at the Cardijn Conference in Cincinnati in 2018.

“That first edition of Gutiérrez’s book served as a primary introduction to a new way of doing theology and becoming church with the poor and insignificant,” Leo writes.

“A Theology of Liberation is a significant book about the insignificant ones of history who live in insignificant worlds. Insignificance is the prism for grasping what is at the heart of the book, what it points to, what it resignifies. For something or someone to be considered significant means that it is recognized as something known, confirmed as something important. Conversely, that which is insignificant lacks meaning, does not convey anything of importance, does not transcend itself in signification. Insignificant ones exist without leaving a mark in history, and ultimately, they lack historical presence.

A Theology of Liberation discerned the irruption of the presence of the poor into a world of signification, with the biblical claim that it is insignificant persons who most signify and make present the presence of God. In the original Spanish introduction to the book, Gutiérrez clarified that the book’s real question is the theological status of the process of liberation; phrased differently, it is about the deep meaning of faith and the mission of the church in a world of captivity. To be Christian, to be church, the book argued, is to live permanently a process of liberation whose referent is always the mystery of God made flesh, who in radical freedom chooses what is insignificant for God’s own revelation. To grasp the irruption of the presence of the poor, one must undergo an epistemological rupture, a new way of encountering and reading reality through faith in the living God.”


Leo Guardado, 50 years later, Gustavo Gutierrez’s ‘A Theology of Liberation’ remains prophetic (America Magazine)

Accompany the marginalised: Pope to Spanish workers

In a message for the 14th General Assembly of the Spanish Christian Workers Movement (HOAC) in Segovia, Pope Francis urged Catholics to accompany people struggling on the margins of the economy.

Pope Francis addressed his message to participants in the HOAC meeting from 12-15 August 2023, which bears the theme “Building Bridges, Tearing Down Walls: The Church in the World of Work Weaving Bonds of Fraternity”.

Work founded in human dignity

In his message, the Pope expressed his appreciation for the movement’s dedication to helping the Church accompany Catholics in the workforce.

Recalling his words in Evangelii Gaudium, he noted that work is “an essential component of life and human dignity”.

“Work is not simply a productive activity, but a means by which we cooperate with God in the work of creation and realize ourselves as human beings,” he said.

The Pope added that human labor helps us to be “co-creators and to participate in building a more just and fraternal world.”

Pope Francis added that it is the Church’s mission to walk with people in all aspects of their lives, including participation in the workforce.

Accompanying people on the peripheries

He said the Church especially needs to accompany people who are on the peripheries of the world of work.

“Our commitment cannot be limited to isolated speeches or actions,” he said, “but must be a constant witness of solidarity and support to people in situations of labor and social vulnerability.”

The Church’s mission with workers, he added, includes being close to people who have lost their jobs or suffer from a lack of employment opportunities.

Christians cannot remain enclosed in the walls of our church buildings, he urged, inviting everyone to reach out actively to those in need and to seek “just and lasting solutions” to job insecurity.

The Pope lamented the fact that unemployment continues to affect many families, saying the Church bears the responsibility of standing in solidarity with “people who face despair and exclusion due to joblessness.”

He concluded his message by encouraging the members of Catholic Action to “weave bonds of fraternity, bear the light of the Gospel, and build a more just society.

“I urge you to continue to be God’s people in the midst of working life, and to continue to weave stories of love and solidarity,” concluded Pope Francis. “The Church needs you.”


Pope: Church must accompany workers in midst of job insecurity (Vatican News)

ACI Annual General Meeting: Tuesday 22 August

ACI will hold our fifth Annual General Meeting on Tuesday 22 August 2023.

Since we launched in August 2018, we’ve held more than 30 webinars and co-organised one international conference in Leuven, Belgium.

We had some success in influencing the outcome of the Australian Plenary Council’s statements on lay apostolate and formation.

We’ve published 275 articles on our website and built up our newsletter mailing list to just over 1500 now.

The Joseph Cardijn Digital Library now contains over 1500 documents in French and approximately 500 in English with more being added on a monthly basis.

Altogether our websites drew 1.1 million visits last year.

But there’s so much more to do! Hence, this invitation to our readers to join the ACI Cooperative as a member shareholder. As a non-profit coop, there will be no dividends – not in the financial sense anyway, just the satisfaction of contributing to the promotion of the Cardijn message in the 21st century.




Léon Ollé-Laprune: See Judge Decide or the origin of the See-Judge-Act

ACI secretary Stefan Gigacz will present our August webinar on Léon Ollé-Laprune, the French philosopher, who first articulated the method that we today know as the “see-judge-act.”

Born in 1839, Léon Ollé-Laprune studied philosophy at the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) in Paris. As a student, he read the works of Alphonse Gratry, who had been chaplain at the ENS. As a Christian, he modelled his life on that of Frédéric Ozanam, seeking to make himself a “lay apostle.” As a social activist, he followed in the footsteps of Frédéric Le Play, the pioneer sociologist whose method of social enquiry so influenced Cardijn.

As an academic, he influenced a whole generation of future French leaders, including Jean Jaurès, founder of the French Socialist Party, the sociologist Emile Durkheim, and the philosophers, Maurice Blondel and Henri Bergson.

Writing in 1896, he advised students to learn to “see clearly, judge and decide” in order to address the challenges of the time.

Léon Ollé-Laprune died in 1898, 125 years ago this year. The method he inspired would sweep the world with Cardijn’s Young Christian Workers and its sister movements before being adopted by Pope John XXIII in 1961 and by the Second Vatican Council in 1965.

Stefan Gigacz

Originally from Melbourne, Stefan worked for a short time as a personal injuries lawyer. While at university, he became involved in a local parish YCW group. In 1978, he became a fulltime worker for the movement, working in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney and later for the International YCW.

Later, he completed master’s degrees in canon law and legal theory. From 1997-2000, he coordinated an international project to document the history of the YCW before taking up a position as a project officer with the French Catholic development agency, CCFD-Terre Solidaire. From 2006-2008, he worked as a pastoral worker in a Melbourne Catholic parish. Since then, he has worked as an editor and journalist for a series of Catholic online publications.

From 2012-2018, he worked on his PhD thesis on the role of Joseph Cardijn at the Second Vatican Council, now published under the title “The Leaven in the Council: Joseph Cardijn and the Jocist Network at Vatican II.” He now resides in Perth, Western Australia, where he devotes his time to the development of the Australian Cardijn Institute.

Webinar details

Tuesday 8 August 2023, 7.30pm AEST

Registration link:

Gérard Lutte, champion of street children

Former Belgian YCW and European YCW collaborator, Gerard Lutte, who lived and worked for the last 30 years of his life in Guatemala, has died at the age of 94.

A psychologist by training, he authored a number of books and studies.

In Guatemala, he founded the Movement of Street Children (MOJOCA) to which he dedicated his life.

Explaining this he wrote:

Mojoca has always worked with young people living on the streets. We have welcomed them, guided and educated them, let them play a role in society again. They do this from their own strength because taking care of themselves is in their DNA. Since the COVID-19 crisis broke out, our daily reality has been thoroughly shaken up. The streets are empty, deserted. People are frightened. Our own young people, in turn, are now taking to the streets in search of those who live a similar life. To help them. Because, you know, there is no food, no shelter, no opportunity to earn any money. Who else cares about their fate?

To fulfill our mission of helping street girls and boys organize to defend their rights, improve their quality of life and integrate into society as responsible citizens, we must follow a star that guides our path: this star is the identity, the philosophy, the fundamental values of the street girls and boys movement.

In a tribute to Gerard, the International YCW and the International Cardijn Association noted:

Gérard, born in Belgium, lived for many years in Rome and for the last 30 years in Guatemala City. He was the soul of a network of friendship and struggle in Belgium, Italy and Guatemala. Gérard was a collaborator of the Belgian YCW in the 1970s and a collaborator of the European YCW and the International YCW in the 1980s. He took part in the International Council in Sao Paulo in 1987.

He is the founder of MOJOCA-Movimiento de Jovenes de la Calle in Guatemala. Until his death, he devoted all his strength and conviction to this movement.

As far as the YCW was concerned, Gérard was always present, always ready to support the movement. He was a great soul with a strong fighting spirit. He leaves us, but his testimony, so powerful, remains anchored in each of those who knew him and in the societies to which he contributed to make them fairer and more human!

We share the grief of his family and his many friends, to whom we offer our most sincere condolences.


In the empty streets of Guatemala City young people face hunger, Mojoca offers them help (We Social Movements)

Katharine Massam to head Uni of Divinity academic board

The University of Divinity has announced the appointment of Professor Katharine Massam as Chair of the Academic Board for a term of three years, commencing in January 2024, Vox reports.

Katharine, who is a member of the ACI board, will succeed Reverend Associate Professor Frank Rees, who has served as Chair of the Academic Board since 2017. Professor Massam is the second woman to be appointed to this senior role at the University since its creation in 2005.

UD Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Sherlock commented:

The Academic Board and the University Council were unanimous in electing Professor Massam to this vital role, paying tribute to her wise leadership and significant experience in theological education and research over several decades. She brings a longstanding commitment to innovative and collaborative approaches to teaching, research and mentoring, not only in her primary discipline of religious history, but across a wide range of fields. I very much look forward to her contribution to academic integrity, educational innovation and ensuring the continuing excellence of our students’ experience.”

In response to the appointment, Katharine said:

I’m honoured by this appointment and look forward to taking up the role in 2024. I know we are all aware of the complexity of this time for the colleges and the University, and for theological education within the wider sector. I feel very sure that the Board will engage the challenges well, shaped significantly by Frank’s leadership and mentoring of a collegial culture. I am very much looking forward to working with the Board and with colleagues across the University in all the various tasks ahead.”

Katharine is a historian of religion, with particular interest in cultural and theological understandings of prayer and work. Her most recent book A Bridge Between: Spanish Benedictine Missionary Women in Australia (ANU Press, 2020) is recognised as a “model of how religious history, in its broader bearings, can be written” and was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Award in Australian History in 2021.

She has served variously as Academic Dean and Research Coordinator at Pilgrim Theological College, is Secretary of the Religious History Association, and a founding member of the Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies.

More recently, she has co-cordinated the Jocist Women’s History Project.

Congratulations from the ACI team, Katharine!


Professor Katharine Massam appointed Chair of the Academic Board (Vox)