ACI Newsletter – January 2020

Dear Friends,

Welcome back!

It’s obviously been a difficult time for many who have been affected by the tragic bushfires. We look forward to a break in the weather to give us all the respite so many need.

Meanwhile, we are continuing to prepare our events and projects for the coming year including a visit by former IYCS chaplain, Fr Mike Deeb OP, and later by French-Vietnamese historian, Claire Tran.

Plus, this week we begin to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the deaths in the Dachau concentration camp of Paul Garcet and Fernand Tonnet.

Once again, we’d like to invite existing ACI members to renew your membership or to join. More about ACI here. Payment details at the foot of this newsletter.

More news next month!

Stefan Gigacz


Visit by Fr Mike Deeb O.P.

Fr Mike Deeb OP
Fr Mike Deeb OP

Our first international visitor this year will be Fr Mike Deeb O.P., a former YCS chaplain in South Africa and also former chaplain to the International YCS and International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS).

Fr Mike is now working for the Dominican Congregation as their General Promoter of Justice and Peace and their Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

Join us for an informal mass (subject to confirmation by the local ordinary) and coffee at Catholic Theological College, Melbourne on Thursday 23 January from 2.30-4.00pm.


Visit by Fr Mike Deeb OP.

Highett YCW history project

YCW Athletics Flyer
YCW Athletics Flyer

It is rare for local YCW branch records to come to light. Kevin Ryan’s records of St Agnes Parish Highett include minutes of 1960s meetings, letters from members in New Guinea, records of activities such as the YCW campaign to rebuild houses burnt after a bushfire, and organisation of YCW athletic carnivals.

ACI has commissioned an archivist report on cataloguing, and digitisation of those documents that are either fragile or would be of general interest (such as ‘The Friday Evening Post’ and ‘The Highett Whisper’) if published on-line, and also to canvass future secure storage options for Kevin’s consideration.

Highett was an influential branch of the Australian YCW, producing leaders who subsequently made significant contributions within credit, land and trade co-operatives, trades unions, social movements (such as the road safety campaign, and the community legal services movement), business, and sport, and also within the church.

There is also interest in production of a short history based on these records and interviews. These might stimulate reflection by veterans on this formative part of their lives, and strengthen their continuing bonds.

David Moloney


Highett YCW Project.

Vietnamese YCW historian Claire Tran

Ho Chi Minh Cabinet
Ho Chi Minh Cabinet with Vietnam YCW founder, Nguyen Manh Ha

Another visitor in May will be French-Vietnamese historian, Dr Claire Trần Thị Lien, who is currently researching the history of the Vietnamese YCW and YCS.

Claire is also the director of IRASEC, the Research Institute on South East Asia in Bangkok. Her PhD thesis at the Institute of Political Science in Paris examined the role of Catholics in the Vietnamese war of independence.

This included the role of Nguyen Manh Ha, the founder of the Vietnamese YCW, who was a member of Ho Chi Minh’s short-lived first government in 1945. Read the story of Manh Ha here.

A Study Day in Melbourne is now in planning with a tentative date of Saturday 30 May with another slated for Sydney.


The YCW and the Vietnam War (Cardijn Research)

Young Trade Unionists Centenary


Last year was the centenary of the launch of the Jeunesse Syndicaliste or Young Trade Unionists, the precursor movement to the YCW, founded in 1919 by Cardijn with Fernand Tonnet, Paul Garcet and Jacques Meert, later known as the “founder trio” of the YCW.

Melbourne historian Val Noone has recently published an article telling the story of the beginnings of the movement.


Val Noone, Belgium 1919, Joseph Cardijn begins the Young Christian Workers Movement. John Lack (Ed.), 1919, The Year Things Fell Apart?, Australian Scholarly, Melbourne, 2019, 116-128.



The Liturgical Movement and Catholic Action in Belgium

Bernard Botte
Bernard Botte OSB

As the title implies, Helen M. Larke’s 1938 article “The Liturgical Movement and Catholic Action in Belgium” offers an interesting insight into the role of the Belgian Specialised Catholic Action movements in the liturgy reform movement that eventually led to such profound changes at Vatican II.

“I have been asked to write about two holidays I have spent in Belgium, because I saw there something of the liturgical movement and of Catholic Action,” Larke, “an avowed and convinced Anglican,” says by way of introduction. “I say ‘saw something,’ for my experiences when recounted make a series of pictures, as it were, related to each other by the idea underlying each: the idea of making religion live.”


The liturgical movement and Catholic Action in Belgium (Jocist Readings)


Liturgical pioneer and friend of Cardijn, Fr Bernard Botte OSB.

Fernand Tonnet and Paul Garcet 75th Anniversary

Fernand Tonnet
Fernand Tonnet at Dachau

This week we begin to commemorate the 75th anniversaries of the deaths of YCW co-founders, Fernand Tonnet and Paul Garcet in the Dachau Concentration Camp.

We will commemorate Paul’s anniversary on 23 January with mass by Fr Mike Deeb (see above).

Mgr Frank Marriott will celebrate a commemorative mass for them at St Therese’s Church, Kennington, Victoria on Sunday 2 February at 10.30am.


Mass for Fernand Tonnet and Paul Garcet


Fernand Tonnet and Paul Garcet: 75 Years (Cardijn Research)

Joseph Cardijn, The holiness of Tonnet and Garcet (


Latest Cardijn Documents

This month, we have a newly translated document from 1930, namely Cardijn’s article entitled “Happy New Year” published in the YCW magazine, JOC.

Although dated in its language, it is a superb exposition of how Cardijn wanted YCW leaders to reach out and work with their contacts and friends at work and in the neighbourhood.


Joseph Cardijn, Happy and Holy New Year (JOC)

The Future of Work: John Médaille on the Just Economy

John Médaille
John Médaille

At our AGM last August, we decided that ACI would develop a new focus on the issue of “The Future of Work.” In this light, we suggest the following viewing.

American economist, John Médaille, from the University of Dallas is a renowned expert on Catholic Social Teaching and on cooperatives and the distributive economy in particular.

Hosted by Solidarity Hall, John will be presenting an online lecture on “The Just Economy” on Tuesday 22 January at 11.00am Australian Eastern Daylight Time (i.e. Melbourne and Sydney time).

Watch and even join in the discussion via Zoom at the following link:


John Médaille, What is Catholic Economics (Patheos)

The Leaven in the Council Book Project

Cardijn with Bishop Charue of Namur

Last month, we launched our $10,000 fundraising project to finance the publication of Stefan Gigacz’s PhD thesis, The Leaven in the Council: Joseph Cardijn and the Jocist Network at Vatican II.

Thanks to your incredible generosity, we have already passed the halfway mark and have almost reached $6000.

If you have not yet contributed, welcome to do so via Unibank (bank account details below).

Dates to Remember


John Medaille, The Just Economy, 1.00pm AEDT, Tuesday 22 January, Online.

Fr Mike Deeb O.P.,Mass and Coffee, 2.30-4.00pm, Thursday 23 January; Catholic Theological College, 278 Victoria Pde, Melbourne.


Mgr Frank Marriott, Tonnet-Garcet Commemorative Mass, St Theres’s Church, Kennington, Vic, 10.30am; Sunday 2 February.


Dr Claire Tran, IRASEC,History of the Vietnamese YCW and YCS: Dates and locations to be confirmed.


Building Bridges of Faith and Action Conference: Mount St Mary’s University, Los Angeles, 16-19 July 2020.

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