ACI Newsletter May 21

Pentecost Edition

Dear Friends,

Welcome to our May Pentecost edition, beginning with news of a seven year action plan launched by the Holy See to promote concern for the environment in light of Pope Francis' encyclical Laudati Si'.

From Timor Leste comes the story of a new Cardijn-inspired youth organisation, Juventude ba Dezenvolvimentu Nasionál (JDN)

We have the raw video and the texts from our 130th anniversary of Rerum Novarum, webinar with Fr Bruce Duncan and Megan Kavanagh plus the story of the 60th anniversary of Pope John's 1961 encyclical, Mater et Magistra, which was proposed to him by Cardijn.

From the USA, we have news of the death of Michael Iafrate, a Catholic activist, who spearheaded the drafting of a see-judge-act based action plan for poor communities in Appalachia.

We also say farewell to former YCW national president, Frank Sheehan, and Malaysian Cardijn pioneer, Paul Sinnappan, and take the opportunity to remember Fr Hugh O'Sullivan, who died on Pentecost Sunday 24 years ago.

Sometimes it's a bit overwhelming to realise how many incredible leaders we have lost. At one level, this clearly represents the passing of a great generation of Cardijn leaders. It also highlights the need to record their commitments to communities, often poor and marginalised, in order to inspire a new generation of Cardijn-inspired leaders and activists.

On a historical level, we recall how Therese of Lisieux came to be recognised as the patron saint of the YCW and all Specialised Catholic Action movements plus a new website telling the story of Le Sillon, precursor movement to the YCW and YCS.

Finally, we are pleased to report that ACI has now gained official approval as a charity recognised by the Australian National Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission. Your membership fees, donations and bequests will enable us to expand our work in the future.

Stefan Gigacz
Vatican launches 7-year Laudati Si' action plan
The Holy See Dicastery for Integrated Human development has launched a seven-year action plan designed to encourage strategic actors to commit to achieving total sustainability, Crux reports.

In a 25 May video message, Pope Francis said that the action plan, called the “Laudato Si’ Action Platform,” will aim to ensure “that will see our communities committed in different ways to becoming totally sustainable, in the spirit of integral ecology.”

The goals include:
  • Adopting renewable energy;
  • Achieving carbon neutrality;
  • Defending all life;
  • Solidarity with Indigenous peoples and vulnerable groups;
  • Adopting simpler lifestyles;
  • Fostering ecological education and spirituality;
  • Advocating for sustainable development;
  • Following ethical investment guidelines, including divestment from fossil fuels and other industries that harm the planet.
Pope Francis said humanity has a duty to future generations to overcome selfishness, indifference, and “irresponsible” habits, asking faithful to respect creation and “inaugurate a lifestyle and a society that is finally eco-sustainable.”


Launch of Laudato Si’ Action Platform (Dicastery for Integral Human Development)

Pope Francis launches program to put Laudato Si' into action throughout church (NCR Online)

Vatican launches seven-year Laudato Si’ action plan (Crux)
On the Condition of the Working Class - Webinar with Bruce Duncan CSsR
Fr Bruce Duncan CSsR
Over 50 participants joined our webinar commemorating the 130th anniversary of Pope Leo XIII's pioneering 1891 encyclical, Rerum Novarum on 15 May.

Yarra Theological Union lecturer and Social Policy Connections founder, Bruce Duncan CSsR presented his paper "Why Pope Leo’s social manifesto remains critical today."

Megan Kavanagh of the Australian Catholic Commission on Employment Relations (ACCER) responded to the talk.

Edited videos will be available soon.


Bruce Duncan, Why Pope Leo’s Pope Leo’s social manifesto remains critical today
130 years on, the legacy of On the Condition of the Working Classes

Megan Kavanagh, Application of Rerum Novarum in Modern Society


130th Anniversary of Rerum Novarum Webinar (YouTube)(Unedited video)


The Pope and the working man’s paradise: Rerum Novarum at 130 (ABC Soul Search)
O'Sullivan Centre trains Timor Leste youth leaders, seeks support
Juventude ba Dezenvolvimentu Nasionál (JDN) is a Timor Leste youth organisation started by a group of young Timorese in 2014 with the assistance of former Australian YCW national workers, Bernardette McEvoy and Jenny Lauritsen.

JDN's aim is to engage young people (18-24) in skills development to address the issues young people face in their everyday lives, drawing heavily on the methodology and formation principles of Cardijn.

One of the biggest issues facing young people in Timor-Leste is the lack of skills and employment. For this reason, JDN focuses on building employability skills and capacities through on-the-job training as nutrition educators, sexual harassment activists, peer educators on COVID-19 prevention and adolescent reproductive health facilitators. Part of the training involves participants using their skills to engage other young people in activities to improve the various situations they face in daily life. 3,500 young people participated in JDN activities during 2019 – 2020.

Bernie and Jenny are also both members of the board of the O'Sullivan Centre (named for the late Fr Hugh O'Sullivan - see below), which is seeking funding for JDN as well as to provide practical support for their work.


Juventude ba Dezenvolvimentu Nasional (Timor-Leste) JDN’s work during 2019-2020

O'Sullivan Centre
Cardijn and John XXIII's Mater et Magistra
On 15 May 1961 - 60 years ago this month - Pope John XXIII published his new encyclical, Mater et Magistra, Mother and Teacher, commemorating the 70th anniversary of Pope Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum.

Cardijn's advocacy for the encyclical had succeeded. What's more, the encyclical explicitly recommended the see-judge-act method. John XXIII's encyclical also offered significant development over its predecessors in its theology of work. This too no doubt owed much to Cardijn and his colleagues.


Mater et Magistra adopts the see-judge-act (Cardijn @ Vatican II)

Stefan Gigacz, Cardijn, work and the worker (Cardijn Research)

Stefan Gigacz, Mater et Magistra endorses the See Judge Act (Cardijn Research)

Stefan Gigacz, Cardijn and the theology of work in Mater et Magistra (Cardijn Research)
Michael Iafrate's "magisterium of the poor"
Michael Iafrate
Michael Iafrate, a West Virginia-born theologian, musician and activist who wrote of a “magisterium of the poor” and spoke out against corruption in the Catholic hierarchy, died on 12 May from complications related to treatment he underwent after a bone marrow transplant a few weeks ago. He was 44.

With a history of social justice activism for the better part of the last two decades, Michael joined the Catholic Committee of Appalachia’s board of directors in 2013. In 2015, he served as the lead author of “The Telling Takes Us Home: Taking Our Place in the Stories that Shape Us,” a see-judge-act document referred to as the “people’s pastoral" reflecting on the dreams, desires and disappointments of Appalachians.

He told Catholic News Service that he and the CCA team pressed on with “the people’s pastoral,” with or without any bishops’ signatures.

“It’s that the authority is coming from elsewhere, that all the people of God need to listen to the voices of people, whether laypeople or clergy or bishops," Michael said. "That’s another kind of authority that we all need to attend to."

Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky, who serves as the episcopal adviser to the Catholic Committee of Appalachia, described him as “a prophetic voice in the Church.”

In 2018, Michael was a presenter at the Lay Movements as Structures of Grace Conference in Cincinnati. Condolences to his family (pictured).


The Telling Takes Us Home (Catholic Committee of Appalachia)

Lay Movements as Structures of Grace Conference, Cincinnati, USA, July 2018
Therese of Lisieux, patron of the YCW and all lay apostolate movements?
Therese - Marc Sangnier - Cardijn
UNESCO is proposing to include St Therese of Lisieux, the young French Carmelite nun and author of the spiritual classic, "The Story of Soul," in its list of 60 personalities to be honoured as part of its 2022-23 biennial program. If confirmed, this will coincide with the 150th anniversary of Therese's birth on 2 January 1873.

In September 1929, Pope Pius XI gifted medals of the recently canonised St Therese to YCW leaders and pilgrims participating in the first JOC pilgrimage to Rome. It was during this pilgrimage that the pope also made the young saint the patron the movement.


Stefan Gigacz, Therese of Lisieux: Pius XI, Cardijn, the JOC - and the Sillon (Cardijn Research)

Stefan Gigacz, Postcript: Marc Sangnier, Le Sillon and Thérèse of Lisieux (Cardijn Research)
Hugh O'Sullivan - 24 Years
Hugh O'Sullivan with IYCW International Team members
This year marks the 24th anniversary of the death of Fr Hugh O'Sullivan, Adelaide priest, later diocesan, national and International YCW Asia-Pacific chaplain.

In fact, Hugh died on 18 May, Pentecost Sunday, 1997.

We now have a new website dedicated to Hugh's writings, including online versions of his training resources, Making Monday the Best Day of the Week and his Notes for Leaders.


Hugh O'Sullivan

Hugh O'Sullivan, Notes for Leaders

Hugh O'Sullivan, Making Monday the Best Day of the Week
Marc Sangnier's Le Sillon movement
The French movement for promoting democracy, Le Sillon, was founded by Marc Sangnier and other students at Stanislas College in Paris in 1894.

By the early 1900s, the movement had expanded across France and into Belgium, where the young seminarian Joseph Cardijn, came under its powerful influence.

Many early pioneers of the JOC in Belgium and France first learned their methods of social enquiry with the Sillon.

Over in the USA, one former Sillon leader, Pierre or Peter Maurin, teamed up with Dorothy Day to launch the Catholic Worker movement.

Read more about this story on our new completely revamped and updated website.


Le Sillon
Farewell Frank Sheehan
Frank Sheehan
RIP this month to Frank Sheehan, Australian YCW national president from 1964-66, including during Cardijn's second visit to Australia.

In 1967 Frank joined the Labor Party. In 1982 he was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly as the member for Ballarat South. He served until 1992, when his seat was abolished and he was defeated in Ballarat East.

After losing his seat he continued working for the Overseas Service Bureau (now Australian Volunteers International). He was active in the Ballarat Diocesan Ecological Sustainability Group.

Frank was also an outspoken advocate for victims of historical sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, founding the Moving Towards Justice support group.

In 2018 he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for his service to the Ballarat community, he cited the creation of workplace laws as one of his greatest achievements.

Frank Sheehan (Wikipedia)

Frank Sheehan, an era ends (Ballarat Courier/Victorian Collections)

Former MP and champion of Ballarat causes dies at 83 (The Courier)

Statement of Francis Patrick Sheehan (Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse)


Frank Sheehan Funeral (Cabin Fever)
Paul Sinnappan, Malaysia's 'barefoot' cooperator
More sad news from Malaysia with the loss of Paul Sinnappan, a former YCS, YCW and Cardijn Community leader, who played a huge role in developing credit unions and social enterprises, particularly among plantation workers of Indian descent.

Known as the 'barefoot cooperator,' Paul's influence was felt across many communities as well as within the Malaysian Catholic Church. Paul visited Australia on a number of occasions during which he also took part in several Cardijn Community programs. He shared his yet-to-be realised dream of a training centre that would continue the formation work that he had pioneered.

In December 2020 in what was probably his last published article, Paul told the story of his origins in a Dalit plantation family and his lifelong commitment to the cause of people of low castes or even none, many of whom were Christians. He passed away on 24 May, Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians.

Condolences to Rebecca, his wife, who shared his journey and commitment, and to their children and families.


Remembering Malaysia’s ‘barefoot’ cooperator (

Malaysian 'barefoot co-operator' spellbinds audience (Cardijn Community Australia)

Paul Sinnappan, In search of social justice, human rights of Dalits (Dalit Christian News)

Paul Sinnappan: Community organiser, reservoir of knowledge (Aliran)

Community Service Leader, Paul Sinnappan Passes Away At 71 (Varnam Malaysia)
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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