Dear Friends,

Where people of faith act as “salt of the earth,” then good happens and God’s Will is done. We offer our February newsletter as an apt illustration of this truth.

It has always been ACI’s intention to promote the global impact of the work of Cardinal Joseph Cardijn and those inspired by him to work for the transformation of the world. The articles in this month’s newsletter will take you around the world: to Rome, to Cadiz, to England, to the US, to Argentina and here, in Australia.

You will meet some inspirational people: retired Bishop of Darwin, Eugene Hurley, who tells stories about lay people who have inspired him, Deacon Ed Shoener, from Scranton, Pennsylvania, Dr Kathleen McPhillips and her colleagues, from the University of Newcastle, Fr Gabriel Delgado, from Cadiz in Spain, the revered English Cardinal Henry Manning (1882-1892), Lucio Gera, Argentinian theologian, Jocist chaplain and friend of Pope Francis, whose influence on the Church and the world is acknowledged and celebrated in this newsletter.

If you visit the ACI website and you think you need to visit your optometrist to have your eyes checked, don’t bother because we have change its appearance. Yes, we have given it a facelift. We hope you find it easier and more enjoyable to read.

Pat Branson
Mental health a priority: Vatican
In 2016, at the age of 29, Deacon Ed Shoener’s daughter Katie died by suicide. She had wrestled with bipolar disorder for over a decade, Vatican News reports.

Katie’s death prompted Deacon Shoener to begin advocating for mental health awareness within the Church. He soon founded the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers, a non-profit that supports parishes and dioceses in establishing mental health ministries.

Deacon Shoener shared this story at a first-of-its kind conference in the Vatican last month, which brought together individuals active in Catholic mental health ministry across the globe.


Mental health a priority: Vatican (ACI)
Request to Pope Francis for YCW centenary
Many of our readers will be familiar with the regular See-Judge-Act Gospel Enquiries that Pat Branson has prepared over the last nine months and which we have often featured in our monthly ACI Newsletter.

Now, as Lent 2024 begins, Pat has undertaken to prepare a special series of six See-Judge-Act Gospel Enquiries, one for each week of Lent.

Week 1 of the program – Jesus’ wilderness experience – is already available.


Gospel Enquiries for Lent 2024


Lent Gospel Enquiries launched (ACI)
Catholic women feel silenced, survey shows
First published in March 2023, the International Survey of Catholic Women (ISCW) provided a first-of-its-kind insight into the perspectives of Catholic women globally, across all ages, Hippocampus reports.

Led by University of Newcastle academics Drs Kathleen McPhillips, Tracy McEwan and Miriam Pepper (pictured above), the ISCW generated an unparalleled dataset.

“The overwhelming response we had is a clear indicator of just how silenced Catholic women have felt,” Dr McPhillips noted.


Catholic women feel silenced, survey shows (ACI)
Fr Gabriel Delgado founded the Spanish Cardijn Association
Spanish priest, Fr Gabriel Delgado, founded the Cardijn Association in the port city of Cadiz in 1993 to work with with young people from poor neighbourhoods.

Soon after, it began to work with young immigrants, many of whom came from Africa after crossing the Mediterranean.

Many arrive sometimes in dire circumstances in their bid to realise their dream of living and working in Europe.


Fr Gabriel Delgado founded the Spanish Cardijn Association (ACI)
Webinar: Promoting the mission and vocation of lay people
Dr Paul Lentern will present our ACI webinar for March 2024 addressing the theme “Promoting the mission and vocation of lay people.”

This will be a follow up from our successful February webinar with Bishop Eugene Hurley. And it will provide an opportunity to dialogue on the many issues raised during that webinar.

Webinar details

Host: Dr Paul Lentern
Topic: Promoting the mission and vocation of lay people: Preparing for the Synod
Date: Wednesday 6 March 2024
Time: 7pm AEDT

Zoom Registration


Gold Coin Donation

Please click here to make a “Gold Coin” donation to assist with hosting costs of this and other webinars

From Laudato Si’ to Laudate Deum
In one of the most powerful and hard-hitting documents of his pontificate, Pope Francis has challenged humanity to address the “indubitable impact of climate change” on “our suffering planet” that he fears will devastate the lives of people around the world, and particularly the poorest, writes Stefan Gigacz.

Entitled Laudate Deum, which means “Praise God,” the pope’s new apostolic exhortation comes on the eight-year anniversary of his groundbreaking 2015 environmental encyclical, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, which he fears has not had the impact initially intended.

“With the passage of time,” Francis laments, “I have realised that our responses have not been adequate, while the world in which we live is collapsing and may be nearing the breaking point.”


Stefan Gigacz, From Laudato Si’ to Laudate Deum (Synodal Reflections)
Video: Lay People: Mission and Vocation with Bishop Eugene Hurley
Bishop Eugene Hurley
Nearly 400 people joined our first webinar for 2024 with Emeritus Bishop Eugene Hurley sharing his experience and insight on the mission and vocation of the lay person.

No-one who participated will forget the moving story of Margie Lee, who refused to let her disability get in the way of serving others.


Gospel: People get ready, there's a train a-comin'
The Gospel reading here is the Gospel for the Memorial of the Feast of St Josephine Bakhita. Her story is worth reading.

She suffered greatly in her life. It was the gift of faith that helped her to understand the meaning and significance of her suffering. She offered up prayers of thanksgiving for those who had abducted her and sold her into slavery.

Their actions led her to a point in her life when she was saved and she recognised Jesus as her saviour. She lived her life of faith as a wise bridesmaid.


Pat Branson, People get ready, there’s a train a-comin’ (Cardijn Reflections)
Reflection: Does "Coffee and Donuts" cut it?
In modern-day Christianity, "coffee and doughnuts" after mass has become the closest we get to meals. But what lessons can we learn from the early followers of Jesus in the first two hundred and fifty years that we might want to rethink and see how to integrate into our world today?

Using the See-Judge-Act method helps us move closer to understanding what the Kingdom of God is all about.

Reflect/See why and how the early practices faded as you read this. Hint: think merger.
In early Christianity, meals were essential for various reasons, including religious rituals and community bonding. The communal aspects of meals played a central role in the life of early Christian communities. Here are some key elements highlighting the importance of meals in early Christianity:

  • Fellowship and Community Building: See/Observe
  • Early Christians often gathered in homes for shared meals, fostering a sense of community and belonging.
  • These meals provided opportunities for conversation, fellowship, and strengthening bonds between members.
  • Sharing food symbolized unity and equality, breaking down social barriers and creating a sense of family.

Richard Pûtz, Does "Coffee & Doughnuts" Cut It? (Cardijn Reflections)


Lucas Andrade / Pexels
Catholic Social Teaching: Cardinal Manning and the origins of Rerum Novarum
English Cardinal Henry Manning (1808-1892) was probably a major inspiration for Pope Leo XIII’s groundbreaking Catholic Social Teaching encyclical, Rerum Novarum, argues writer Russell Sparkes in the Tablet.

“Conventional wisdom holds that Rerum Novarum was a response to European campaigns for social reform from great aristocrats such as Bishop von Kettler in Germany and the Comte de Mun and the Marquis de la Tour du Pin in France” who argued for “a return to some kind of medieval guild system,” Sparkes observes.


Cardinal Henry Manning, The dignity and rights of labour (Gospel of Work)

Stefan Gigacz, Cardinal Manning and the origins of Rerum Novarum (Cardijn Research)

Stefan Gigacz, The dignity, rights and priority of labour (Cardijn Research)
History: Lucio Gera, theologian of the people – and Pope Francis
This month we celebrate the centenary of the birth on 16 January 1924 of Argentinian theologian, Lucio Gera, a chaplain/theologian of the JOC, who later became a major source of inspiration for Pope Francis when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires.

In these extracts from an interview Lucio Gera did with Virginia R. Azcuy, Jorge Bender and Marcelo González on 12 March 1999, he acknowledges the influence of the JOC and explains how it became the seedbed for a revitalisation of theology and indeed the development of a pastorally-oriented theology in Argentina that characterises Pope Francis’ approach today.


Stefan Gigacz, Lucio Gera, theologian of the people – and Pope Francis (Cardijn Research)
Pope Francis on the importance of the lay apostolate
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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