Save the YCW Camp

Dear Friends,

This month we have a major issue to place before you, namely the need to Save the YCW Camp at Phillip Island in Victoria.

As many of you from Melbourne will know, the camp was founded by YCW chaplain, Fr Frank Lombard in the late 1940s. It's true that the camp has fallen on hard times in recent decades. But now there is a proposal that it should be handed over to an aged care services provider, a worthy purpose but which has nothing to do with the original purposes of the camp.

A public debate has now emerged on this issue. As a result, ACI has also adopted a position, calling for the camp to be restored to its original use as part of a plan for the redevelopment of the YCW in Melbourne and Victoria. You can read the details of our proposal below.

We also share with you two important speeches by Pope Francis, addressing lay movement leaders and youth ministers from around the world.

Don't miss our July webinar, featuring ex-YCW and trade union leader, Brian Smiddy, speaking with Jean Ker Walsh about his new book "Brother Smiddy - A worker life."

We also have the video of Fr Louis Cameli's wonderful presentation on "Rediscovering Co-responsibility for mission."

Pat Branson presents his latest Gospel Enquiry while Richard Pütz reflects on the symbolism of the mustard seed and the cedar of Lebanon.

I have the incredible story of Fr Tomislav Kolakovic and Silvo Krcmery, pioneers of the YCW in Czechoslovakia, as it was then known, particularly in Slovakia. One of the most amazing YCW stories I have come across, full of courage and sacrifice.

We also share an appeal by the Australian YCW and YCS to assist with a national leaders training program coming up in July.

And last but far from least, we're proud to announce that ACI is co-sponsoring a conference on Lay Mission and Vocation to be held in Rome during the Second Assembly of the Synod from 9-13 October 2024. Details below with more to come!

Stefan Gigacz
Save the YCW Camp
The ACI Board of Directors has expressed its opposition to moves to hand over the historic YCW Camp facility at Phillip Island in Victoria to an aged care provider.

In a statement, the ACI board says that it “learned with dismay of recent proposals regarding the future of the YCW Camp at Phillip Island, which disregard the heritage and the interests of the Young Christian Workers movement and its work.”

Rather, ACI proposes that the YCW Camp, which is managed by the YCW Camp Committee Patriotic Fund, should be redeveloped in line with its original purposes as a YCW camp simultaneously serving the needs of young workers in general as well as the dependents and families of exservicepeople.


Save the YCW Camp

YCW Camp

Pope Francis reflects with lay movement leaders
Leaders of Catholic lay movements, including the see-judge-act-based lay apostolate movements, met with Pope Francis and the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life at the Vatican on 13 June 2024.

Pope Francis also addressed the meeting, highlighting what he called the “synodal virtues.”

“I have often emphasised that the synodal journey requires a spiritual conversion because without an interior transformation, lasting results cannot be achieved,” he stated.


Movement leaders meet Pope Francis
Accompany young people in ordinary times: Francis
Addressing participants at the International Congress on Youth Ministry hosted by the Dicastery for Laity Family and Life in Rome from 25 May, Pope Francis called on participants to work above “to continue accompanying youth ministry in ‘ordinary times’.”

“You must not neglect the ordinary paths, that is, the journey of young people in their everyday lives,” he noted.

“I mean the kind of pastoral care made up of small steps, small numbers, simple words and actions, everyday decisions and moments of celebration and prayer in community.

“These may be less spectacular experiences, but they are the ones that touch hearts and bear lasting fruit over time. This is the holiness in daily life that I spoke about in Gaudete et exsultate.


Accompany young people in ‘ordinary times’: Pope Francis
Video: Fr Louis Cameli: Rediscovering co-reponsibility in mission
In the heart of Chicago, Fr. Louis Cameli emerges as a beacon of spiritual guidance, emphasizing the importance of “co-responsibility in mission.”

With a rich background in pastoral work, including his role as a chaplain to a Christian Family Movement (CFM) group, Fr. Cameli draws inspiration from the Jocist movement’s principles of unity and interconnectedness.



Video: Rediscovering co-responsibility in mission
Webinar: Brian "Brother" Smiddy: This Worker Life
Shaped by childhood years living with his adoptive dad in a railway guard’s van in Williamstown; formed in his teen years as a Young Christian Worker leader; active through decades in the printing industry as a Chapel Brother, union organiser and Labor Party man, Brian Smiddy became a valiant friend of working men and women, and valued confidant of a Labor Premier.

Brother Smiddy recounts a life of unwavering commitment to those with less than they deserve – less respect, less in their pay packets, less freedom to fight for their right to a dignified life. Over the decades, this worker life claims its price.

Join the webinar 7pm AEST, Thursday 4 July 2024

Register here:
Gospel Enquiry: Following Blind Bart
“Think of the cross,” a colleague said to me, “and put God at the top and you at the bottom. This relationship we call faith. The horizontal, well that is us, our school, our families, our Church, society.”

Decades later, quite by accident, I came across the writing of Charles Taylor, a Canadian philosopher. Taylor writes about the “porous” self who seeks a relationship with God, and the “buffered” self, who navigates life without engaging with the transcendent.

Blind Bartimaeus knows that only God can save him. The power of God works through Jesus. Bartimaeus knows this and no one will stop him from appealing to Jesus to be healed.

Today, many in our society reduce spirituality to well-being. Transcendence is meaningless and God does not exist. To borrow words from Taylor, their horizon is flattened. The story of Bartimaeus is quaint, but irrelevant. What do you think?


Following Blind Bart (Gospel Enquiries)
Reflection: The mustard seed and the cedar of Lebanon
Have you ever pondered the profound symbolism of the mustard seed and the Cedar of Lebanon in the context of our spiritual journey? asks Richard Pütz.

This month, we heard the Gospel parable about the mustard seed. Now, if you look at the lives of Joseph Cardijn, Albert Nolan, and others, do you see the work of being a mustard seed or a cedar?

In our own lives, do we desire to be more like the Cedar or the mustard tree?

Why did Jesus compare the kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed that would grow into a mustard tree? What do you think was going through the minds of the people sitting there listening to Jesus talk about the kingdom as a mustard plant versus what they knew and believed from what you heard in the first reading from Ezekiel?


Richard Pütz, Have you ever pondered the profound symbolism of the mustard seed and the Cedar of Lebanon in the context of our spiritual journey? (Cardijn Reflections)


Christine Matthews / Cedar of Lebanon, Forty Hall, Enfield / CC BY-SA 2.0
History: Silvo Krcmery, pioneer of the Slovak JOC
Silvester Krcmery was a young Slovak YCW leader jailed for 16 years by the Czechoslovak Communist regime in 1949.

Following his eventual release, Krcmery played a key role in the underground Catholic Church as well as in the Velvet Revolution of November 1989 that resulted in a peaceful transition from a communist regime to a democratic goverment.

On 24 June 2024, the Slovak National Institute of Memory hosted a conference at Trnava, Slovakia, to mark the centenary of Krcmery's birth in 1924.

ACI secretary, Stefan Gigacz, took part in the conference, presenting a paper on the role of Krcmery and a Croatian priest, Fr Tomislav Kolakovic, in the founding of the Young Christian Workers movement in Slovakia during the 1940s.


"You have the power, but we are right!" SILVESTER KRCMERY (1924 - 2013)

Stefan Gigacz, Tomislav Kolakovič, Silvo Krčméry and the Slovak JOC

Stefan Gigacz, Tomislav Kolakovič, Silvo Krčméry and the Slovak JOC (Slideshow)
YCW and YCS: Support the new generation of leaders
The Young Christian Workers (YCW) is excited to announce its annual national conference in Sydney from 5-7 July. This year, we are bringing together new YCW and Young Christian Student (YCS) leaders from Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra, and Parramatta for a transformative experience.

To make this happen, the movement is asking for your help. "We invited four Diocese leaders who must fully self-fund the event," the YCW explains. "The cost per participant is $675, which covers airfares to Sydney. Each leader will contribute personally and raise additional funds within their Diocese.

"Your solidarity is crucial. Your support will ensure that we can train and empower our new leaders."

Take action today:
  • Donate: Your financial contribution will directly support the leaders’ participation and the conference’s success.
  • Share: Spread the word within your networks to gather more support.
  • Advocate: Encourage friends, parishes and dioceses to support this program, the YCW and YCS permanently.

Act Now to Support the YCW & YCS Leaders Training 2024!
Lay Mission and Vocation Conference, Rome, 9-13 October 2024
ACI is co-sponsoring a conference on "Lay Mission and Vocation" to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Vatican II document, Lumen Gentium, with its pathbreaking chapter recognising the role of the laity in the world and the Church.

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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