ACI Newsletter – August 2020

Second AGM Edition

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the August edition of our newsletter.

Our big event of the month is our Second Annual General Meeting. Details below.

We also farewell two great jocist priests, Fr Mick Wheeler from Melbourne, and Brazil’s bishop of the poor, Pedro Casaldáliga.

Looking back at our heritage, Florian Schneider reports on the Belgian JOC leaders and chaplains who have been recognised as “Righteous Among the Nations” for their role in saving Jews from deportation during World War II. Ian Linden also reminds us of the continuing relevance of Cardijn’s life and work.

Looking to the future, we note a growing interest in the Cardijn method in the United States with a ringing endorsement of its utility from Catholic Social teaching expert, Fr Kevin McKenna as well as from Word on Fire founder, Bishop Robert Barron.

Closer to home, ACI director, Mark Ager, and the Salisbury CCA team have provided us with an excellent enquiry resource for studying the role of the lay faithful.

And we are pleased to announce the publication by Hilary Regan of ATF Press of the second issue of Cardijn Studies magazine.

Hoping to see you online at the AGM!

Stefan Gigacz


ACI Annual General Meeting, 29 August 2020

ACI will hold its second Annual General Meeting this Saturday 29 August at 2.00pm, AEST. Owing to Covid, this year’s event will take place online.

Our guest speaker will be Sarah Moffatt, a member of the Executive Committee, Australian Plenary Council, currently Acting Chancellor for the Archdiocese of Adelaide, and a former national president Australian YCW.

Welcome to join us by taking out membership or paying your annual dues. See below for our banking details.


ACI AGM Online 29 August 2020 (Australian Cardijn Institute) 

YCW leaders recognised as Righteous Among the Nations

The Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Centre has recognised four Belgian JOC leaders and a chaplain as “Righteous Among the Nations” for their roles in protecting and saving Jews and resisting the Nazi occupation during World War II, reports German YCW leader, Florian Schneider, who is researching these issues.

The five people were Herman Bouton, Henri André, Joseph Pesser, Lucien Defauw and Jesuit Fr Pierre Cappart. The group worked together to conceal Jewish children at various JOC centres, particularly one that was established in the Schaltin castle. At Schaltin, which was managed by Fr Cappart, they concealed 54 Jewish boys and four women, providing them with forged ID papers.

The women were employed as cooks in the JOC centres, which were established by the Belgian JOC under the leadership of Cardijn and the president, Victor Michel. The centre also provided assistance to JOC leaders who resisted the German Compulsory Labour Service (Service du Travail Obligatoire or STO) system.

André, Pesser and Defauw were eventually arrested following a roundup at Namur in August 1944 and sent to concentration camps along with several Jewish young men. Henri André did not survive.

The Schaltin Institute commemorated these events with a re-enactment of the roundup and a memorial service in October 2019.


Righteous of the Nations (Australian Cardijn Institute) 

RIP Fr Mick Wheeler

This month we say goodbye to Fr Mick Wheeler, a former Melbourne YCW fulltime secretary, who later became a priest.

Aged 82, he passed away at Epworth Hospital in Melbourne on Tuesday 11 August 2020.

“Mick came through the Alphington YCW and worked in the early 60’s as full time Melbourne YCW Secretary,” recalled Bill Armstrong AO.

“He embodied the Cardijn methodology of see, judge act and this stayed with him all through his life,” Bill added.

Mick often told the story about Cardijn’s visit to Australia in 1966, noted Kevin Vaughan.

“Cardijn visited the seminary and spoke to the seminarians. Later, when he was sitting at the dinner table, Mick sat beside him with his arm around the back of his chair and he was told off for getting so personal with a giant of the church. May he rest in peace.”


Vale Fr Mick Wheeler (Australian Cardijn Institute)

Fr Michael Anthony Wheeler Tribute Page (Tobin Brothers Funerals) 

Joseph Cardijn: A man who changed the Church

“A whole generation of Catholics formed in the Young Christian Students and Young Christian Workers movement is receding into history,” writes Prof. Ian Linden (pictured) in a recent article recalling the significance of Cardijn’s contribution.

“Cardijn’s formula took seriously the different milieu, social contexts, that people live in and which affects them. People in factories, university libraries, or on sugar plantations have very different experiences of life. The Cardijn approach profoundly influenced the way Catholics – from bishops to landless agricultural labourers – set about analysing and trying to change society for the better.

“He made a significant contribution to the Second Vatican Council. The bishops and theologians preparing the Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes, (Joy & Hope), were explicitly instructed to use his See, Judge, and Act method of analysis.

“In a time of fear and lack of historical humility, he has much to be remembered for and to teach the Catholic Church today,” Linden concludes.


Ian Linden, Joseph Cardijn: A man who changed the Church ( 

Cardijn Studies: Lay Movements as Structures of Grace conference

Published by ATF Press, Adelaide, the second edition of Cardijn Studies journal is now out. It contains a series of articles from the Lay Movements as Structures of Grace conference hosted by Mount St Joseph University, Cincinnati, USA in July 2018.

Lauri Przbysz reflects on the work of the US Christian Family Movement while Paul Murray analyses the decline and collapse of the YCS movement in the United States.

Pax Romana president and theology professor, Kevin Ahern emphasises the continuing relevance of the Specialised Catholic Action movements, particularly the youth movements.

On a more theoretical level, David Lutz, looks at the philosophical roots of the See-Judge-Act method. And Clare Adams introduces the French priest, Alphonse Gratry, whose “inductive method” helped provide a basis for the Cardijn method.

Finally, David Moloney reflects on human and Christian formation and social transformation from an Australian perspective.


Cardijn Studies No. 2: Lay Movements as Structures of Grace (ATF Press)


Cardijn Studies No. 1 (ATF Press)

Remembering Brazil’s bishop of the poor

“The ‘Avanguardistes’ and the ‘Fejocistes’ and their songs helped initiate me with an intuition or ideal of sacred struggle,” recalled Catalan-born Brazilian Bishop Pedro Casaldáliga Pla in his 1975 book “Yo creo en la justicia en la esperanza” (I believe in justice and hope).

He was paying tribute to the members of the Catalan jocist or “Fejocista” movement, the precursor of the Catalan JOC, who helped inspire his commitment to the poor.

By the time of his death on 8 August, Bishop Casaldáliga had indeed become known in his adopted homeland of Brazil as a “bishop of the poor.”

“He made the church realize that we cannot abandon the poor,” Archbishop Leonardo Ulrich Steiner of Manaus, Brazil, told Catholic News Service.

Dubbing him a “prophet,” the Brazilian bishops’ Indigenous Missionary Council said that in his simple gestures, Casaldáliga knew better than anyone how to “shelter the little ones of God.”


Remembering Brazil’s bishop of the poor (Australian Cardijn Institute) 

US bishop praises Cardijn method

After US Catholic bishops came under fire for (allegedly) failing to speak out strongly enough against racism, Los Angeles auxiliary bishop, Robert Barron (pictured), the founder of Word on Fire ministries, has pointed to the Cardijn model as a way forward.

“The last thing I would like to do is to stir up any rivalry or resentment between clergy and laity—on the contrary,” he wrote recently.

“Following the prompts of the Vatican II documents, I have been stressing the symbiotic relationship that ought to obtain between them. And if I might propose a concrete example of this symbiosis, I would draw your attention to the Catholic Action model that flourished in the years prior to the Council but which, sadly and surprisingly, fell into desuetude after Vatican II.

“In accord with the framework proposed by Cardinal Cardijn, the founder of Catholic Action, a priest would meet with a relatively small group of parishioners who shared a common interest or vocation, say, physicians, or lawyers, or financiers, or business leaders. The spiritual leader would interpret Scripture or lay out some relevant teaching of the Church and then invite his interlocutors to ‘see, judge, and act.’

“When it was functioning at its best, Catholic Action involved priests and laity, each operating in their proper spheres and working together for the transformation of the world.

“Not a bad approach to the cultural crisis in which we currently find ourselves,” Bishop Barron concluded.

Other commentators, however, have suggested that Bishop Barron’s interpretation exaggerates the division between the roles of clergy and laity as well as letting the bishops off the hook.


Bishop Robert Barron, Why “what are the bishops doing about it?” is the wrong question (Word on Fire)


Word on Fire . 

Serving the poor in parishes

“How can our parishes better serve the poor and vulnerable of the peripheries and work toward building bridges among peoples of different languages and cultures?” asks US priest, Fr Kevin McKenna, the author of “A Concise Guide to Catholic Social Teaching”.

“One methodology that has been effective in pastoral ministry is ‘see, judge, act,’” he notes, highlighting Pope John XXIII’s endorsement of the method in his 1961 encyclical Mater et Magistra.

“In my own parish in Rochester, New York, our parish council and social ministry committee became aware of the worsening plight of the poor in its neighborhood. They saw a need.

“Then, after reviewing an in-depth report and analysis of poverty that had been recently published in Rochester, they were shocked to see the depth and the urgency of the problem. Thus, by using the see-judge-act paradigm, the parish council and social ministry committee were able to read the signs of the times.”

The outcome was that “parish ministers have begun implementing further initiatives to attack the systemic causes of poverty: developing a wellness center that will offer basic health screenings, including blood pressure, pulse and weight.”

“They have decided to initiate a program for those who come to Joseph’s Place that can offer tutoring for high school equivalency certificates. They are also providing information about drug-rehab opportunities,” Fr McKenna noted.


Bringing Salt and Light to the Parish (The Priest) 

Pastoral Conversion of the Parish

The Vatican has recently released a new instruction entitled “The pastoral conversion of the Parish community in the service of the evangelising mission of the Church.”

Writing in America magazine, Colleen Dulle notes that “according to the new instruction, the current model of parishes no longer measures up to most people’s expectations: Whereas the parish church was once a community’s primary gathering space, people now have many other places—in person and virtual—to gather, weakening their commitment to their geographic neighbors.”

“As a result of this change,” Dulle continues, “the document says, ‘any pastoral action that is limited to the territory of the Parish is outdated.” Rather than remaining focused on preserving the existing community, a missionary parish is “called to reach out to everyone, without exception, particularly the poor,” Dulles concludes, citing the document.

Noting that the Vatican document has also been widely criticised, Parramatta priest, Fr Joseph Lam, says he does “not share such a pessimistic reading.”

“The chief purpose of the Instruction is to overcome both, the self-referential conception of the Parish and the clericalisation of the pastoral,” he argues.

“Contrary to some commentators of the Instruction, the intention of the Congregation of the Clergy was not to suppress the active participation of the lay faithful, but rather to preserve and foster the various responsibilities and services within the Parish community,” he argues.

And the Salisbury Cardijn Community group have also produced an enquiry resource to enable parishioners to reflect themselves on the application of the Vatican document.


The pastoral conversion of the Parish community in the service of the evangelising mission of the Church (Congregation for the Clergy)

Fr Joseph Lam, A reflection on the Congregation for Clergy’s Instruction on pastoral conversion of the parish community (Catholic Outlook)

Colleen Dulle, Explainer: 5 takeaways from the Vatican’s new document on parish reform (America Magazine)

The role of the lay faithful (An enquiry by Cardijn Community Salisbury) 

Coming Events 

Australian Cardijn Institute Annual General Meeting: This year’s AGM will take place online on Saturday 29 August at 2.00pm AEST. 

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.