ACI Newsletter May 22

Democracy edition

Dear Friends,

A bout of Covid, two weeks work on the Australian federal election and a trip to Adelaide to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the death of Hugh O'Sullivan (See photo below) have all conspired to cause this May edition to arrive at the last possible minute.

Nevertheless, we have some great content again, beginning with Pope Francis' announcement that see-judge-act Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego will become a cardinal. This month, Pope Francis also canonised Charles de Foucauld, the mystic French priest, who influenced many early YCW leaders and chaplains.

Meanwhile, former ACI president, Kevin Vaughan, is launching a proposal to redevelop the Australian Christian Workers Movement.

Our June webinar features French theologian, Eric Mahieu, on Yves Congar's theology of the laity. And we also announce a forthcoming webinar on the YCW in South Africa under apartheid with Joe Falkiner OP.

We note the publication of the first English book-length account of Marc Sangnier's democratic movement, Le Sillon, which was such an important source of inspiration for Cardijn. It is written by Canadian, Linda Arbour.

We have the video of our May webinar on Conflict in Karen State with Zoya Phan, Chris Sidoti and Kwi Kwith.

And we conclude with human rights activist and former YCS chaplain, Pat Walsh's reflection on the importance of that movement as a unique vehicle for formation.

See you next month!

Stefan Gigacz
Cardinal-elect Robert McElroy on the see-judge-act
Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, California, as one of 21 new cardinals. Bishop McElroy, who visited Australia in June 2017, has made a name for himself for a pastoral approach very close to that of Francis.

In February 2017 address to the US Regional Meeting of Popular Movements he offered a powerful endorsement of Cardijn’s see-judge-act method.

“For the past century, from the worker movements of Catholic action in France, Belgium and Italy to Pope John XXXIII’s call to re-structure the economies of the world in ‘Mater et Magistra,’ to the piercing missionary message of the Latin American Church,” Cardinal-elect McElroy said, “the words ‘see,’ ‘judge’ and ‘act’ have provided a powerful pathway for those who seek to renew the temporal order, in the light of the Gospel and justice."

San Diego Diocese has long been a centre of jocist activity in the US.


See-judge-act bishop now a cardinal (Australian Cardijn Institute)
Redeveloping an Australian Christian Workers Movement
Seasonal Workers
Former ACI president, Kevin Vaughan, has long called for an adult lay apostolate movement in Australia.

Kevin has been particularly concerned by recent news stories relating to the exploitation of seasonal workers from the Pacific Islands.

He now invites people interested in forming an Australian Christian Worker Movement to contact him in view of launching such an initiative.

He proposes that those interested should initially meet online in order to best work out how to develop the movement.

Contact Kevin at:


An Australian Christian Worker movement? (Australian Cardijn Institute)
Charles de Foucauld's jocist influence
On 15 May 2022, Pope Francis canonised French mystic, Charles de Foucauld, a former soldier who lived in the North African desert for many years, devoting his life to the Indigenous Taureg peoples.

Today, Charles de Foucauld is regarded as a pioneer of interreligious dialogue, witnessing to his faith through his quiet example, without words, living it out through deep prayer and friendship and service to the people he came to know.

Charles de Foucauld was also a major source of inspiration for many early Jocist chaplains and leaders, including French priest, René Voillaume, founder of the Little Brothers of Jesus and the Little Brothers of the Gospel.

In Belgium, the Little Sisters of Nazareth based their own charism on that of both Charles de Foucauld and Joseph Cardijn.


Charles de Foucauld (Australian Cardijn Institute)
Webinar: Eric Mahieu on Yves Congar's Theology of the Laity
French theologian, Fr Eric Mahieu, will be our guest for the June ACI webinar, which will focus on the theology of the great French Dominican priest, Yves Congar, a major 20th century theologian and a key actor at the Second Vatican Council.

Born in Sedan, France, in 1904, French Dominican Yves Congar was a leading 20th century theologian, who exercised a major influence on the Second Vatican Council.
A strong advocate of ecumenism, he also played a significant role in the development of a theology of the laity.

A close collaborator of Cardijn, Congar's work “Lay People in the Church,” first published in French in 1953, was one of the first major theological treatises on the role of the laity.


Webinar: Yves Congar’s Theology of the Laity


Tuesday 7 June 2022, 7pm AEST, 11am Paris

A lay movement that transformed France: Le Sillon
Le Sillon

Canadian educator, Linda Arbour, has published Le Sillon, A Catholic lay movement that transformed France.

It is the first book in English that tells the story of Marc Sangnier's pioneering democratic movement, which operated from 1894 until 1910 when Pope Pius X called on its lay leaders to resign and hand the movement over to the French bishops. In a remarkable act, that is precisely what Sangnier and his colleagues did.

Over the short course of its existence, Le Sillon, which began as a group of students at Stanislas College, Paris, did indeed transform the French landscape with its nationwide network of "study circles."

Its "method of democratic education" founded on the sociological methods of Frédéric Le Play and the philosophy of Léon Ollé-Laprune in fact foreshadowed the see-judge-act of the Young Christian Workers (YCW-JOC) and the other Specialised Catholic Action movements.


A lay movement that transformed France (Australian Cardijn Institute)


Linda Arbour, Le Sillon, A Catholic lay movement that transformed France (iUniverse)
Video: Conflict in Karen State, Myanmar
Conflict in Karen State
Author Zoya Phan, human rights expert Chris Sidoti and Young People for Development (YPD) coordinator, Kwi Kwith, were our guests for the April ACI webinar on "Conflict in Karen State."


Conflict in Karen State with Zoya Phan, Chris Sidoti and Kwi Kwith (ACI/YouTube)
The YCS: A unique vehicle
Pat Walsh
Well-known human rights worker and Timor Leste solidarity campaigner, Pat Walsh, was national chaplain to the Australian YCS for five years, 1973-1978.

Some forty years on, he has written up his experiences looking at the impact on the secondary school YCS of this exciting but turbulent period of historic change and reflects on the experience and its potential lessons for today’s church.

He writes:

"The movement known as the Young Christian Students (YCS) has morphed several times during its 80 or so year history in Australia. Once highly favoured by popes, principals and parish priests, YCS’s footprint today is far smaller than it used to be. Given, however, that the principles it represents both informed and were endorsed by the Second Vatican Council and remain highly relevant, this is a paradox.

"Whether or not clues to this change of fortune can be found in the following account, it is to be hoped that Australia’s upcoming synod process will recognise what a unique vehicle the YCS can be to foster young laity and their contribution to the church and the world."


Pat Walsh recalls his YCS formation (Australian Cardijn Institute)
Coming Events
Joe Falkiner
Here is a list of coming ACI webinars with Zoom registration links:

7 June, 7pm AEST: Eric Mahieu: Yves Congar's Theology of the Laity

12 July, 7pm AEST: Joe Falkiner OP: The South African YCW under apartheid

13 September, 7pm AEST: Mathijs Lamberigts: Gerard Philips, Lay people in the Church

Save the dates!
Photo: Australian YCW National Action Conference, Adelaide, 28-29 May

Australian YCW (Facebook)
Editorial Note: The purpose of the ACI Newsletter is to share information and promote discussion. Citing or linking to articles does not imply any endorsement by ACI of the authors' views.
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