ACI Newsletter December

New Year's Eve Edition

Dear Friends,

With Covid-19, 2020 has been a difficult year for many of us! But it's time to turn the page and begin again, as Cardijn so often encouraged us.

We have many new projects in the pipeline. We'd like to ask you to volunteer your time and skills to enable us to go forward. We also invite you to join us in a review of the first year of this newsletter and make your suggestions for its further development.

As usual, we also have a range of articles, including a call to conversion by the International Specialised Catholic Action Movements, growing momentum for a Job Guarantee and a New York Times article on the success of the Mondragon cooperatives.

We also feature a new book by Katharine Massam on Spanish women missionaries in Australia, news about 'Queensland Great' Fr Mick Lowcock, a tribute to our founding president, Kevin Vaughan, as well as a special article on the compiler of Gaudium et Spes, the French JOC chaplain, Pierre Haubtmann

And for more New Year reading, there's our new edition of Cardijn's classic, Challenge to Action, which is now available for free download.

Thanks for joining us in 2020! Look forward to working with you in 2021.

Stefan Gigacz
From crisis to conversion: Cardijn movements' Covid call
Responding to the COVID-19 crisis around the globe, eleven international Specialised Catholic Action movements representing workers, intellectuals, professional, farmers as well as youth and children’s movements, have combined to call for personal and structural change.

“The International Specialised Catholic Action Movements (known by the French acronym MIACS) represent more than 500 movements around the world with a great diversity of countries, cultures and backgrounds,” the statement begins. “Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, we have been reflecting together on this crisis and wish to share some thoughts and actions.

“The pandemic has brutally aggravated pre-existing problems,” the statement warns. These problems include “unemployment, inequalities between gender, between rich and poor, within and between countries, and domestic violence.”

“More than just a crisis, the pandemic has created a new situation, the effects of which are still unknown. We are experiencing a key moment that calls for change. But what change? And what will the fundamental basis of it be?" the statement asks.


From crisis to conversion: Cardijn-inspired movements speak out (Catholic Outlook)

From crisis to conversion: Cardijn-inspired movements speak out (
Job Guarantee gains momentum
Job guarantee
An extraordinary thing happened in the Tasmanian parliament this year, write Callum Foote and Michael West. Liberal MP, Sue Hickey, Speaker of the House, crossed the floor to cast the deciding vote in favour of a Greens motion to investigate a Job Guarantee.

A Job Guarantee is an “unconditional offer of public employment at a socially inclusive minimum wage to anyone who wants to work but cannot currently find employment,” says the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE).

Unlike the “Universal Basic Income” (UBI), an idea which has also gained currency in the debate over the future of work, a Job Guarantee entails the promise of training and skills, of useful employment.

Both ideas are driven by the inescapable fact that automation in the workplace will continue to wipe out jobs and create permanent, systemic underemployment and unemployment – which will lead to social problems.


A Guaranteed Job? Radical idea to combat automation, alienation gathers momentum (Michael West)

Investing in a Job Guarantee for Australia (Centre for Full Employment and Equity)
Mondragon co-ops avoid Covid layoffs
"If the Erreka Group operated like most businesses, the pandemic would have delivered a traumatic blow to its workers," writes Peter Goodman in the New York Times.

"Based in the rugged Basque region of Spain, the company produces a variety of goods, including sliding doors, plastic parts used in cars and medical devices sold around the world. As the coronavirus ravaged Europe in late March, the Spanish government ordered the company to shut two of its three local factories, threatening the livelihoods of the 210 workers there.

"But the Erreka Group averted layoffs by temporarily trimming wages by 5 percent. It continued to pay workers stuck at home in exchange for the promise that they would make up some of their hours when better days returned.

"This flexible approach was possible because the company is part of a vast collection of cooperative enterprises, centered in the town of Mondragón. Its cooperatives employ more than 70,000 people in Spain, making it one of the nation’s largest sources of paychecks.


Co-ops in Spain’s Basque Region Soften Capitalism’s Rough Edges (New York Times)

Mondragon Corporation

Jose Maria Arizmendiarrietta (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)
Volunteer for ACI
As we look forward to 2021, ACI has several new projects in preparation, beginning with a major international conference to mark the 130th anniversary of Rerum Novarum, which is due in May 2021.

As a result, we are looking for volunteers to assist us with several key tasks:

a) Video editing and production

b) Graphic design and lay out for print and web publications

c) Website management

d) Mailing list management

d) Proofreading and editing

If you believe you have the skills and time to assist in one or more of these areas, please contact ACI secretary, Stefan Gigacz at
ACI Newsletter Reader Survey: Send us your feedback
It is already a year since we launched the ACI Newsletter in December 2019.

Time to review where we've come and also look at where we want to go. We would also like to get feedback from you our readers.

So we are inviting you to take a few moments to complete a short reader survey that will help us in this task.


ACI Newsletter Reader Survey
Kevin Vaughan, life member of ACI
Kevin Vaughan
ACI board members have made founding president, Kevin Vaughan, a life member of the institute following his resignation from the board at the beginning of December.

“Kevin committed himself to the YCW in 1958 and his faith in the movement and all that it stands for has shaped his life,” said ACI president, Brian Lawrence. “From being inspired by Cardijn at a rally in 1958 to being the inaugural President of the Australian Cardijn Institute, Kevin has, in turn, been an inspiration to many,” said ACI president Brian Lawrence.”

“I would like to express my personal thanks to Kevin for all the encouragement he has given to me since we first met in Paris in 2006,” added secretary Stefan Gigacz.

In late 1958 Kevin was asked to help start the YCW in Highett, not long before Cardijn visited Melbourne, where he addressed a rally at the old Olympic Swimming Pool (now a training centre for Collingwood Football Club).

Inspired later by Cardijn's book, Laymen into Action, Kevin launched a series of small meetings in 2007 that led to the foundation of the Cardijn Community Australia in 2008. He also represented CCA at several meetings of the Cardijn Community International in Bangkok, Manila and Kuala Lumpur.

In 2018, Kevin took on the further challenge of the role of founding president for ACI, a role he continued in until health concerns caused him to resign.

The board also passed a resolution thanking Kevin for his contribution.


Kevin Vaughan, ACI life member (Australian Cardijn Institute)


Kevin Vaughan with Alex Ericx, extension worker in Africa for the International YCW and collaborator with Cardijn.
Fr Mick Lowcock, a "Queensland Great"
Fr Mick Lowcock
Congratulations to former YCW chaplain, Fr Mick Lowcock of Mt Isa, who has been named a "Queensland Great" by Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, the Catholic Leader reports.

Townsville Bishop Tim Harris said the news that Fr Lowcock was named a Queensland Great “affirms the extraordinary work and vision of a man who has never thought about himself but rather who has devoted his priestly life to those in society who deserve our special care and consideration”.

"Fr Mick, as I have said on previous occasions, gives the Catholic Church a good name.

"His outreach to our indigenous brothers and sisters is renowned and he holds their trust and respect.

"His advocacy on their behalf is legendary and they have no greater friend."
The big issue that called to Fr Lowcock was the “extent of poverty and how difficult it is to get out of the cycle of poverty”.


Mount Isa parish priest Fr Mick Lowcock has been named a Queensland Great on Queensland Day 2020 (Catholic Leader)
Spanish Benedictine missionary women in Australia
Spanish missionaries
Associate Professor Katharine Massam, a former member of the Tertiary YCS in Perth, has just published a new book examining the history of Spanish Benedictine missionary women, who worked among the Indigenous people of Western Australia.

"At three o’clock in the afternoon of 25 August 1904, a party of nine sisters arrived in buggies at New Norcia," Massam writes. All Spanish speaking, they had come from either the Mediterranean or South America to begin their new project.

Their task, as they saw it, was to "assist the native girls." But they faced many challenges and misunderstandings with their Catholic colleagues during their early years. Nevertheless, over time, they did succeed.

In her Foreword to the book, however, Therese Veronica Willaway, "an Aboriginal person of the Yued and Whadjuk peoples of the Noongar Nation from the southwest of Western Australia," and also a Benedictine Missionary Sister for over 60 years, also recalls the difficulties.

"It was a shock to my Aboriginal existence to overnight change my life and leave my peers behind to become a religious Sister. After some time, I came to realise how dedicated these Sisters were to their religious life and vocation to be missionaries working with Aboriginal people. Some people will find that hard to believe. I know New Norcia was also a place of suffering, and I know Katharine understands that too," she writes.


Katharine Massam, A Bridge Between, Spanish Benedictine Missionary Women in Australia (ANU Press)
Pierre Haubtmann: The compiler of Gaudium et Spes
Pierre Haubtmann
Pierre Haubtmann was a French priest, who was a chaplain to the JOCF, the Girls YCW, as well as national chaplain to the Action Catholique Ouvrière (Christian Workers movement) and to the ACI, a Specialised Catholic Action movement for professionals and business people.

At Vatican II, he was appointed as a peritus (expert) in the commission responsible for Schema XIII, the future Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the World of Today, Gaudium et Spes. In late 1964, he was made responsible for compiling the final version of the document, which was adopted by the Council in December 1965.

Tragically, he did not live long enough to enjoy the fruits of his labour, dying in a hiking accident on 6 September 1971, the 50th anniversary of which will fall in 2021.


Pierre Haubtmann (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)
Challenge to Action
Challenge to Action
The classic compilation of Cardijn's articles and speeches, Challenge to Action, is now available for download as an e-book in both epub and pdf formats.


Joseph Cardijn, Challenge to Action
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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