ACI Newsletter – June 2020

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the Black Lives Matter edition of our newsletter.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Cardijn movements have a long and proud history of working for racial justice that we highlight in this issue.

The US YCW, in fact, launched a national campaign in 1958 while Cardijn expressed himself strongly in an article lamenting the famous incident of the Little Rock Nine black students, who were refused entry to a white school in 1957. Several years later in 1964, Congolese former YCW chaplain, Archbishop (later Cardinal) Joseph Malula, called on the Second Vatican Council to condemn racism.

And we recall the commitment of Catholic Worker activist, Martin Gugino, who suffered serious injuries at a Black Lives Matter protest in Buffalo, NY.

Meanwhile, back in Australia, applications for this year’s Rerum Novarum Foundation awards are now open. Former YCW fulltime worker, Des Tobin, has published a biography of his famous father, Phonse. We bid farewell to Columban Fr Noel Connolly SSC, who lost a long battle with cancer earlier this month.

Plus news of the Cardijn Community Australia meeting in Melbourne and a Cardijn anniversary mass in Perth.

Stefan Gigacz


A Cardijn influence in the US civil rights movement

As Black Lives Matters protests ramp up around the world, it is perhaps timely to look back at the role of the US Cardijn movements on racial justice issues.

In her book A Time of Awakening, The Young Christian Worker Story in the United States 1938 to 1969, Mary Irene Zotti hghlights a 1957 YCW national enquiry on the theme “Unity” that helped launched grassroots awareness and action around the nation.

“Leaders examined life in the parish and the neighborhood, unions at work and even the United Nations. Actions on international concerns included talking to friends on the need for understanding the situation in other countries, helping immigrants to adjust to American life, and sending CARE packages to the poor overseas,” Zotti writes.

“Major action followed the examination of the facts of racial discrimination,” Zotti notes.

Many jocist priests also played leading roles in the civil rights movement, including Fr James Groppi from Milwaukee. Indeed, a film about his life is due out this year.


The Cardijn influence in the US civil rights movement (Cardijn Research)


When Hell Freezes Over: The Story of Father James Groppi (Trailer) / 11th Story/YouTube 

When Hell Freezes Over: The Story of Father James Groppi (Full Movie)

Catholic Worker activist hospitalised after Black Lives Matter protest

75-year-old Catholic Worker activist, Martin Gugino, has been hospitalised with head injuries after being pushed to the ground by police at a Black Lives Matter protest in Buffalo, New York. Two police are now facing charges of assault over the incident.

President Donald Trump accused Gugino of being an ANTIFA “provocateur.” However, Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, apostolic administrator of Buffalo diocese defended him.

“We honor Mr Gugino’s witness and service to the Catholic Worker Movement,” Scharfenberger said in a statement to CNA.


Buffalo bishop ‘honors witness’ of Catholic man injured in protest (Catholic News Agency)

Catholic activist has been anti-hunger, anti-war, not ‘antifa,’ friends say (Angelus) 

A chance to shape society

Our Australian response (to Covid-19) can take many different forms, but our priorities need to be clear, writes Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge.

And there is one priority above all others – the human being must be the focus of any response. Of course the economy matters, but only if it puts the human being at its heart. The economy was made to serve us; we weren’t made to serve the economy

The Church doesn’t have to go too far back into our history to find guidance for these times. In 1891, Pope Leo XIII published his now famous open letter Rerum Novarum on the Rights and Duties of Capital and Labour.

We’re in a situation now where the world has changed, perhaps forever, and the principle duties and responsibilities of employers, employees and governments are as much in focus today as they were when Rerum Novarum was issued.


A chance to shape society in ways that weren’t possible before the crisis; but as a community, not just the political leaders (Brisbane Catholic)


Archbishop Mark Coleridge / (Stipo Karajica) / Wikipedia / CC BY SA 3.0 

Rerum Novarum Awards 2020 now open

Rerum Novarum Awards for social justice have been re-launched The Rerum Novarum Awards for 2020 have been re-launched as a result of the disruption to the school year caused by the COVID-19 virus.

The competition is open to groups of Years 10-12 students in Catholic schools in Victoria for projects on a social justice issue, using the See, Judge, Act method to apply the principles of Catholic Social Teaching.

The Gold award in the competition is $10,000, which will be paid to the school to fund a social justice project undertaken by the school. There will also be a Silver award ($5,000) and a Bronze award ($2,500).

Entries will comprise a research paper, a video presentation, a project impact report and a funding proposal in the event that the entry is awarded a cash payment.


Rerum Novarum awards launched (Australian Cardijn Institute) 

Document: African archbishop asked Vatican II to condemn racism

In a powerful speech to the Third Session of the Second Vatican Council in 1964, former JOC chaplain, Archbishop (later Cardinal) Joseph Malula of Leopoldville (now Kinshasa) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, appealed for a condemnation of racism

“Racial injustice committed anywhere in the world is an insult to every human being; but you know, Venerable Fathers, what a particularly painful repercussion it awakens in the hearts of black Africans,” Malula said. ‘No doubt, our peoples suffer from a certain complex which makes their sensitivity especially keen in this area. The Church can powerfully assist them to free themselves from this complex.

“It is very desirable (and if I dared, I would say that it is absolutely necessary) that the Council openly condemns Racism – and by racism we must understand the oppression or the persecution suffered by a group of men, from other men, for reasons of colour or race,” he insisted.


Cardinal Joseph Malula (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Schema De Ecclesia in mundo huius temporis – English (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)


Cardinal Joseph Malula (Magazine cover) 

Document: Cardijn on the Little Rock drama of 1957

Cardijn often spoke out against racial discrimination and injustice, which he abhorred. He rejoiced when the first international council of the IYCW condemned it.

“We have just spent ten days together with 30,000 young people of all races and colours from 87 countries. It was moving to see the ease of their relationships. On the last day of the Council, the motion condemning all racial discrimination was acclaimed with such unanimity that it was easy to see that it responded to the deepest aspirations of the young people of 1957,” he wrote.

When, a few weeks later, a group of US black students, who became known as the Little Rock Nine, were prevented from taking their places at a (white) school, Cardijn responded strongly.

“Universal basic education must ensure that it eradicates all prejudices of hatred, bitterness, mistrust and selfishness in every field… The Little Rock drama illustrates, alas! that there are still islands where it fails to penetrate. This is yet another reason to multiply demonstrations of union, understanding and friendship. This is a task worthy of young people, and very necessary in order to remove all obstacles to international collaboration.”


Joseph Cardijn, The lessons of the Little Rock drama (

Little Rock Nine (Wikipedia)

Little Rock Nine (


Commemorative cover of National Geographic magazine 

Saving the world through youth

“This is an age of youth movements; of youthful Fascism, Hitlerism, Communism; of Young Australia, movements, Young India movements, and etc., etc., but it has been left to little Belgium to inaugurate a young Christian movement which, in the ten years of its existence, has girt together with bands as strong as steel young Christian
working men and working women throughout the whole world,” wrote Carole Gay in the Melbourne Advocate on 17 October 1935 .

“I speak of the Jocistes who, to-day (25 August) in Brussels, held the most amazing and most genuinely moving demonstration I have ever seen,” she continued in what was certainly one of the earliest if not the earliest references to the jocist movement in the Australian Catholic press.


A Gallant New Crusade, Saving the world through youth (Advocate/Trove) 

Books: Des Tobin remembers “A Man Called Phonse”

Cramming more lives than “your average cat” into his 82 years, Des Tobin has variously been a failed student, springboard diver, discontented apprentice panel beater, junior pole-vaulter, VFL and Olympic Australian Rules footballer, as well as a YCW extension worker in Queensland, ten pin bowling instructor, successful funeral industry executive, golfing tragic, university lecturer and more recently a published author.

His latest book is a biography of his famous father, Phonse Tobin, founder of the Tobin Bros funeral business.


Des Tobin: Writer, speaker, YCW fulltimer (Australian Cardijn Institute)


Vale Fr Noel Connolly

Originally from Gympie, Queensland, Columban Father Noel Connolly SSC, a good friend of the Cardijn movements and a facilitator for the Australian Plenary Council, has died at the age of 75 after a long illness.

“Noel loved the world and loved people,” writes his colleague, Fr Jim Mulroney. “He believed in the bounty of the blessings received from investing in the truth and above all, he loved God, the trace of whose finger in the arena of human affairs he spent a lifetime discerning.”

“He listened with patience during his many engagements in the spirit of the listening Church he believed in, and encouraged people to listen to what the Spirit is saying. He spoke with enthusiasm of the sense of faith possessed by the community of souls that make up the Church, quietly explaining the difference between the well-known Church that teaches and the less-known, but more desirable one that discerns,” Fr Mulroney concluded.


Plenary council facilitator Columban Father Noel Connolly dies aged 75 (Catholic Leader)

Obituary by Fr Jim Mulroney (Columbans)


Fr Noel Connolly / Columban Fathers 

Coming Events 

CCA General Meeting: Cardijn Community of Australia has confirmed a general meeting at the Mulgrave Catholic Parish Hall on Saturday 27 June from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. with lunch arrangements to be advised.

Issues to be addressed will include: Further contributions to the Australian Plenary Council process, including through Australian Catholics for Renewal; the Future of Work enquiry; Laudato Si developments; new conferences; restructuring of the national group and a proposal for action on the closure of country and suburban newspapers

“We will be asking regional and interstate members unable to travel to contribute their ideas by Thursday 25th June so we can distribute the proposals to the members and friends of the community,” CCA president, Wayne McGough noted.

Cardijn Mass Perth Southern Region: Commemorative mass for Cardijn’s anniversary at the newly opened St Teresa of Calcutta church, Baldivis, at 7 p.m. on Friday 24 July. All welcome. More details next month.