Remembering Brazil’s bishop of the poor

Pedro Casaldaliga

“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.”

“At home, we spoke of Gil-Robles and the CEDA,” Casaldáliga wrote, referring to General Franco’s rival for power and Gil-Robles’ political party, the Spanish Confederation of Autonomous Rights. “In the parish, we talked of Fejocism and Avant-guardism,” the latter a progressive Catalan artistic movement.

Born in Balsareny in 1928, Casaldáliga became a Claretian priest and missionary, who arrived in Brazil during the period of military dictatorship in 1968.

He rapidly became known as a defender of human rights and as a liberation theologian, bringing him swiftly into conflict with the government.

Made a bishop by Paul VI in 1971 and appointed as prelate of Sao Felix, he quickly began to challenge the Amazonian agricultural companies, accusing them of using slave labour.

He continued this commitment to the rural poor throughout his long episcopal career.

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

“He himself was poor; he lived like his followers, in poverty,” said Steiner. “I know this because I lived with him for seven years in a very simple house in the middle of the community. He lived with those he helped, with the poor.”

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.”

“It was decades of commitment to the people’s struggles, defending and amplifying the voice of the indigenous, the peasants, the blacks, the women and the most forgotten. Since its inception almost 50 years ago, CIMI has been inspired by Bishop Pedro’s example of prophetic life,” said the Indigenous Missionary Council, using its Portuguese acronym, CIMI. “His life was a gift and grace for all of us.”

One of the bishop’s favourite sayings was “If in doubt, side with the poor,” according to many who spoke to CNS.


Pedro Casaldáliga, ‘bishop of the poor,’ dies in Brazil at 92 (National Catholic Reporter/Catholic News Service)

Pedro Casaldáliga, Yo creo en la Justicia y en la Esperanza

Bishop Pedro Casaldáliga Plá, C.M.F. (Catholic Hierarchy)


Casaldà / Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

Righteous of the Nations

Re-enactment of the roundup

The Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Centre has recognised four Belgian JOC leaders and a chaplain as “Righteous of the Nations” for the 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 cards.

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.

After his arrest, Henri André, 22, was sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp, and finally transferred to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where he died at the end of April 1945.

Joseph Pesser, alias Joseph Legrand, was also sent to Buchenwald and later to the Blankenburg concentration camp. He survived and was repatriated in July 1945 via Sweden.

Lucien Defauw was the manager of a JOC centre at the Schaltin Castle. When arrested, he refused to divulge the presence of the Jewish children. He was also imprisoned in Namur and then interned in the Buchenwald concentration camp, then in the Blankenburg concentration camp. He was repatriated in July 1945 via Sweden.

Last year, the Schaltin Institute commemorated the roundup with a re-enactment and a special service of remembrance.


Commémoration des 75 ans de l’institut de Schaltin et de la rafle d’août 44 ce week-end (Sud Info Ciney Blogs)


Vale Fr Mick Wheeler

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.” He was interested in everyone he met and was always ready to have a chat.

“Mick was humble and down to earth and really cared for people.  For more than 30 years he was the much loved Parish Priest of the very aptly named Parish of Wheelers Hill.”

Former ACI chairperson, Kevin Vaughan noted that he had first met Mick Wheeler in the YCW 60 years ago.

“I can always recall him working in the YCW office,” Kevin said. “He often told the story about Cardijn’s visit to Australia in 1966.

“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.”

After completing his seminary studies, Fr Mick was ordained a priest at St Patrick’s Cathedral, East Melbourne on 22 May 1971.

He then served as Assistant Priest at Belmont (December 1971 – March 1972), Collingwood (1972), Jordanville (1975), Manifold (1978) and Newport (1979). In 1981, he was appointed as Chaplain to the Repatriation Hospital, Heidelberg.

In 1986, he became Parish Priest of the newly established St Justin’s parish at Wheelers Hill, where he served with distinction for 30 years until his retirement in 2016. Parishioners remembered him as “a wonderful, kind, selfless man who gave so much to St Justins parish and the community.”

It was no doubt Fr Mick who arranged for the mural behind the altar to display the cross and the wheat of the YCW badge. It provided a fitting backdrop to his funeral service.

St Justin's

ACI AGM Online 29 August 2020

The Australian Cardijn Cooperative will hold its Annual General Meeting for this year online on Saturday 29 August at 2.00pm.

Meeting link:

Below is the formal Notice of Meeting.




Notice is hereby given that the SECOND ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING of the Australian Cardijn Institute Cooperative Limited will be held on Saturday 29 August 2020 at 2.00pm AEST.

The Registrar of Cooperatives has approved holding a virtual general meeting.

Please contact the secretary for the link.


The chairperson, Mr Brian Lawrence is to deem if we have a quorum and then open the meeting with a prayer.

1. To confirm the Minutes of the First Annual General Meeting held on Saturday 24 August 2019.

2. Any matters arising from the Minutes of the 2019 First Annual General Meeting.

3. To receive from the Board, Auditors, any officer of the ACI, any member of ACI, any reports upon the transactions, affairs of the Australian Cardijn Institute for the year end of 30/06/2020.

4. Income and Expenditure Statement and Balance Sheet for the year end 30/06/2020. Mr Michael Rice to present.

5. Election of Directors: Present Board Members are: Mr Brian Lawrence, Chairperson, Messrs Kevin Vaughan, Mark Ager, Stefan Gigacz, Secretary, Gregore Lopez, David Moloney, Michael Rice, Treasurer, Desmond Ryan and Damian Egan. During the year, Mr K.E. Vaughan resigned as chairperson. On 3. March 2020, Mr Brian Lawrence was elected to the board and also elected as chairperson. Mr Damian Egan was also elected to the board on 3 March 2020.

5 A. Members to vote confirming the appointments of Messrs B. Lawrence and Mr D. Egan.

5 B. The Board is seeking to further improve its expertise and is looking for suitable candidates with special skills in marketing, religious, theological and other relevant disciplines and in order to increase gender and age diversity.

6. Guest speaker: Ms Sarah Moffatt, Member of the Executive Committee, Australian Plenary Council, Acting Chancellor, Archdiocese of Adelaide, former national president Australian YCW.

7. National and International Reports: Mr S. Gigacz

Website: Mr S. Gigacz

Newsletter: Mr G. Lopez

Adelaide Report: Mr M. Ager

Brisbane Report: Mr M. Rice

Melbourne Report: Mr D. Moloney

Perth Report: Mr D. Egan

Sydney Report:

8. Our “Notice of Meeting” will be online from 15 August 2020 at the following link:

Members are encouraged to email the secretary Mr S.R. Gigacz by 22 August 2020 with any voting intentions, questions for the annual meeting or suggestions:

9. Capital raising: Refer Mr D.J. Ryan.

10. Promoting ACI membership:

11. Promoting awareness to the general public of the policy and aims of ACI

12. General Business

Development of Strategic Plan

Promoting the ACI submission to the Plenary Council and to the wider community. Attached. Refer K.E. Vaughan.


Secretary/Director: Mr S. Gigacz

Email: or

Phone: 0491 077 033.

ACI Registered Address: 56 Austin Rd, Seaford, Vic, 3198.

Catholics combine on refugee issues

Refugee solidarity

Sydney Catholics are proposing to establish a new “Catholics for Refugees” group to tackle the many problems and issues affecting asylum seekers and refugees in Australia.

Fr Peter Smith, Promoter of Justice and Peace, Justice and Peace Office for the Archdiocese of Sydney, explained the proposal in a recent letter.

“[O]n the 7th of April, 2020, our historic group that included over 60 organisations including the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference of Australian, a number Bishops from NSW, NT and Queensland, Catholic Religious Australia (CRA), the peak body for more than 5,000 members of Religious Orders; and the CEOs of several major Catholic health and social services providers wrote to Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, to applaud his government for showing leadership and agency in the face of this global pandemic,” Fr Smith writes.

“We also raised two groups of people that remain on the margins of our community and vulnerable to both the predations of the Covid 19 virus and the despair that comes with such vulnerability.

“Those groups were the 1.5 million temporary visa holders in the Australian community, the refugees held in onshore detention and the over 100,000 asylum-seekers living in the community. While the pandemic made all our lives more insecure, it made the lives of these families nearly impossible. It is hard to imagine that in a wealthy country like ours there are over 100,000 people that have zero access to any form of social security, any medical support or low-cost housing – marginal doesn’t begin to describe their position in our country.

“As I’m sure you have all noted, the various State Premiers and Chief Ministers have responded with a raft of financial packages and support, not enough certainly in light of the need, but gratefully received, nevertheless.

“Sadly, the Federal government has done next to nothing outside the announcement that temporary visa holders could access up to $10,000 of their superannuation. As the pandemic drags on and the economy slows even further, life becomes more precarious for these most vulnerable families.

“Despite the grim outlook, what has become very clear to us and obviously many of you, is that there is a new spirit of generosity, courage and outrage within Catholics across Australia, a spirit that is demanding a better Australia and more from all of us.

“We saw that emerge when we sent out our request for those interested to sign on to the letter to the Prime Minister. Your collective response was so encouraging and heartening, as were your many words of solidarity, that we have decided to take things further.

“Catholics for Refugees is really a movement of people who want action to make the lives of refugees and asylum seekers better.

“I guess it might be useful to say what this idea, Catholics for Refugees, is not. It is not a peak organisation, or a formal alliance, or new organisation.

“It is an idea that reflects the fact that Catholics – in organisations, Religious Orders, parishes and those who have left the church altogether but are still drawn to the social teachings of the Church – want to do something to restore integrity, humanity and legality to our country’s treatment of refugees both here and in off-shore detention. It recognises that real, sustained social change happens through an ecology of responses and strategies and that that starts with knowing we are not working alone, despite how siloed we can sometimes become.

“So here’s our very loosely formed idea/plan that we would really love you to consider and think about as we listen to the whisperings of our heart, the leadership of Pope Francis and the call of our God to get informed, get connected and get organised to use our voices for those who have no voice.

“A more humane outcome for those seeking Australia’s protection requires coordinated thinking and action at all levels:

“Supporting action in local Catholic For Refugees groups across Australia.

“Collaborating with the ACBC, religious orders, NGOs, schools, dioceses and service providers to welcome and protect the stranger, and engage our political leaders to do the same
Investigating the possibility of humane and practical remedy within Oceania to respond to the rising numbers of displaced people within our own neighbourhood.

“Catholics For Refugee groups would be set up in electorate areas and meet regularly to organise and plan action they will take. From meeting with MPs, to running events and supporting campaigns – the options on how the group makes a change are endless. Actions could range from organising food, phone cards and support for asylum seekers in the community, to writing a Letter to the Editor, speaking at schools and lobbying MPs and local members. The great thing is the group decides what its own priorities are.

“The collaborative work idea is still in the early days of developing and imagining what this strand of work might involve so our first step will be to host a meeting – perhaps face to face or zoom if not – with all those interested in this aspect of the work including all those who have begun this journey together through the joint letter to the Prime Minister.

“If this is of interest to you, your organisation, parish, community group or family please contact Julie Macken ( and we will find a time and date to get together and create this aspect of the work,” the letter concludes.


John Englart / Flickr / CC BY SA 2.0

RIP Lesley Campbell

Lesley Campbell

30 June 2020 witnessed the funeral in Adelaide of former YCW full time worker Lesley Campbell. In a true sign of our times, it was conducted online due to the Coronavirus.

I first met Lesley when she worked for the Adelaide YCW in the late 1970s and was struck by how friendly she was and how she always made an effort to get to know the young workers of the movement. Through her YCW work Lesley met and later married Michael Campbell, who became our National President.

Lesley and Michael went on to start a family with four children, Ruth, Robert, Duncan and Clare, being born and raised by the couple. I knew Duncan and Clare very well later when they became key leaders in the YCS and later YCW. They both made significant leadership contributions to those movements, very much in the example and tradition of their parents.

After YCW Lesley became a nurse and for many years worked with the care and disciplined approach needed to be good at the profession. This approach was appreciated by all who benefited from her care.

In 2000 Lesley became the diocesan collaborator for the Adelaide YCW. I was the group collaborator to Salisbury YCW and often sought her advice and leadership. She was patient and kind toward me when I struggled for a while with that role.  I recall how she took a great interest in the campaign to welcome and provide services for young worker refugees from Afghanistan and I often attended the YCW-refugee football and cricket matches with her.

Lesley also introduced the young refugees to the Adelaide habit of eating ‘bung fritz’ which used to make us laugh at times. She encouraged the promotion of friendships among young workers and there were many successful YCW social events and training weekends I attended with her.

I share the great sorrow that the family is feeling at the loss of Lesley. She truly lived the Jocist life and inspired us by her example. Michael is a member of the Australian Cardijn Institute and we all extend our affection and solidarity to him and his family.

Mark Ager

Click here to read the eulogy and service written by Michael Campbell:

Lesley Anne Campbell (1954 – 2020)

Lesley Anne Campbell Funeral Service from TBS Productions on Vimeo.

John Curnow, priest and prophet

John Curnow

A key moment in John Curnow’s interpretation of Cardinal Joseph Cardijn’s method was his organisation’s donation in 1981 of $1000 to the anti-Springbok tour movement Halt All Racist Tours (HART).

The South African Springboks rugby team were set to tour the country in the second part of 1981 and the country was riven with rugby supporters excited at the prospect of seeing their beloved national team, the All Blacks, defeating that other great team, and equally passionate protesters against South Africa’s racist Apartheid system of government which privileged the white minority population over the country’s majority black and coloured population.

Curnow’s donation caused an explosion of condemnation from many traditional Catholics throughout New Zealand, led by John Kennedy, the conservative editor of the national weekly the Tablet.

The Catholic Commission for Evangelisation, Justice and Development was established in the 1970s with Curnow as its driving force in a bid to address the causes of poverty. The Church had grappled with the problem of poverty overseas since the 1950s. Eventually it became clear that sending money overseas was doing nothing about poverty in other countries. In fact after a decade of overseas aid, the problem was worse. People needed to be educated about the causes of poverty and the link between rich and poor as a way of better addressing the problem.

Amid the uproar of the church’s donation to an organisation many regarded as Marxist or, worse, Communist, Curnow told journalist Helen Paske in a 1981 article for the New Zealand Listener that personnel in the commission to run education programs were thin on the ground and HART was doing a good job of educating New Zealanders about the problem of apartheid.

“We have so few people to do programs of our own that we have to look for partners.”

A few years later, he would say in an interview that the HART grant and a similar one to the Waitangi Action Committee to raise awareness of indigenous land issues, showed up the ideological “rich and poor” division in the Church. Some would say the lively debate these created showed their effectiveness as an education project.

“But it has left a lot of scars and a lot of divisions and perhaps it does show the depth of division that exists.”

As a champion of the Cardijn method – see, judge, act – Curnow worked tirelessly in his own, Christchurch diocese and later in the national CYM and YCW movements to build groups of young Catholics versed in the method of reflecting on the Gospel and bringing this reflection to what was happening in society, devising an appropriate action and then reflecting on that action in light of the Gospel.

Later he started the Christian Family Movement comprising couples who wanted to build the movement through their parishes. Curnow became chaplain for the Christchurch diocese, the national and finally the international movements. As one couple said in their tribute, his message and challenge was constant, “Successful family life was about living out the highest values and Christian couples were blessed with a capacity to love beyond themselves… He called on couples to accept responsibility for their communities and to carry out their love on behalf of those in need, particularly the poor and the marginalised.” Social action was key and action for human development was crucial to God’s plan for the redemption of the world.

With his talent for using words to great effect, he was able to convince people of the veracity of this new message and for those who struggled, he showed endless care and patience. Those who rejected these truths were challenged ruthlessly to choose between being part of the solution or the problem.

The Cardijn method was at the heart of everything Curnow did whether it be driving the change in philosophy from overseas aid to development to partnership with the poor and marginalised to what he would have considered his greatest work: social structural analysis.

In the last decade of his life (had he lived another 29 years, he would have celebrated his 100th birthday on July 5, 2020) he ran structural analysis workshops for groups of people working with the poor and marginalised throughout New Zealand, the Pacific and Asia. Indeed, less than a week before his death on July 25, 1991, he was leading a workshop in Fiji. Through the workshops, he helped people to understand that, rather than poverty being a personal punishment for not working hard enough, the structures of society – political, economic, social/cultural – were set up to privilege the wealthy few over the many “havenots”. Here he used the Cardijn method to encourage groups of people to see how society’s structures worked to their detriment, to discuss possible group actions, to implement them, then to reflect on the results in light of the Gospel.

The directors of the highly successful Kaikoura tourism concern “Whale watchers” and the Maori (political) Party were involved in John Curnow’s workshops.

Though he was fiercely loyal to the Catholic Church, he used to say that the Gospel had little to do with the Church but a great deal to do with the world.

He is remembered by many in Australasia, Asia and the Pacific as a prophet who showed much love and generosity as well as huge insight into the relationship between the Gospel and humanity’s social, economic and political circumstances. As with all prophets, he could encourage and disturb in equal measure and woe betide anyone who was not on the same page – his wrath could be devastating.

The author

Cecily McNeill has been a journalist for nearly 40 years – nine as editor of the Wellington archdiocesan newspaper, Wel-Com. She also worked as a volunteer for the secular aid agency, Corso, and for the Catholic Church’s Commission for Evangelisation, Justice and Development and is passionate about social justice. A tentative publication date is July 2021, marking the 30th anniversary of John Curnow’s death. Read more John Curnow (Cardijn Priests) Fr John Curnow and Cardijn

Des Tobin: Writer, speaker, YCW fulltimer

Des Tobin

Born in 1938, Des Tobin says he’s crammed more lives into his 82 years “than your average cat.” He has variously been a failed student, a springboard diver, a discontented apprentice panel beater, a junior pole-vaulter, a VFL and Olympic Australian Rules footballer, a YCW extension worker in Queensland, a ten pin bowling instructor, a successful business executive within the funeral industry, a golfing tragic, a university lecturer and a published author.

Des joined the Malvern Branch of the YCW in 1954 while still a 15-year-old schoolboy at St Joseph’s Technical College Abbottsford. His older brother Barry – who at the time was assistant Melbourne YCW diocesan secretary to Dan Callahan and was later ordained to the priesthood – was Captain of the Malvern YCW under 18-football team and recruited Des as a player. After leaving Abbotsford at the end of 1954 Des joined the branch leaders group.

Terminating his apprenticeship indentures in 1957 and completing National Service Training, Des worked at the YCW Co-operatives before “volunteering” to work for the National YCW at the beginning of 1959. He was assigned to Queensland and has described his two years as a YCW extension worker as a “life changing experience.” The work took him throughout the vast state of Queensland where he helped establish new YCW branches in every Queensland diocese other than Cairns where the then Bishop refused to welcome the YCW.

The responsibility of the position and living away from home brought him a new maturity and as Des was to say “those years helped me become a person in my own right.”

“I was lucky enough to be a premiership player with the Coorporoo Football Club in the QANFL in 1960 but best of all I was to meet my future wife Margaret Cleary (a member of the Brisbane NCGM executive) to whom I have been married for 58 years,” he said. “We have been blessed with a good marriage, four loving, independent children and eleven beautiful grandchildren.”

Des joined the Tobin Brothers funeral business in 1961. He ultimately became the company CEO in 1982 and remained in that position until his retirement in 1998.

A man called Phonse


He then turned his hand to writing and since 2003 he has written and published six biographical works.

His most recent work Just a Man Called Phonse – the biography of his late father A.V. (Phonse) Tobin – was published in October 2018..

The life of Phonse Tobin was anything but ordinary. Born in 1905, he followed on behind soldiers as they marched to the wharves to depart for World War I. He earned pocket money by trapping rats and collecting the South Melbourne Council’s rat bounty, and almost ‘haunted’ the Collins Street movie and live theatres.

After leaving school in 1919 he worked as a storeman, salesman, soldier and fireman. In 1934 Phonse and three of his brothers started what has become Australia’s most successful family-owned funeral service company – Tobin Brothers Funerals.

A natural entertainer, Phonse possessed a fine singing voice and produced many amateur theatrical productions in the 1930s. He was a good all-round sportsman and a successful professional footrunner. He was a long-serving member of the North Melbourne Football Club committee and was the club’s president from 1955 to 1957. He was a life member of both the NMFC and the VFL (now AFL).

Phonse was one of those rare characters who could meet, communicate and be at ease with people of all classes and walks of life – from prize fighters to prime ministers, from “mug” punters to wealthy publicans or bookmakers, from Knights of the Southern Cross to knights of the realm, from everyday parish priests to ‘princes’ of the church, and from grave diggers to governors.

Like everyone else, he had his failings. But these failings – such as they were – were more than offset by his strength of character, generous spirit, creative flair, kindness to people in need, and his love for and undying support of his family.

To obtain a copy of Just a Man Called Phonse (or other books by Des Tobin), visit Des’s website, call him on 0417 510 211 or email

Des Ryan

Rerum Novarum awards launched

Rerum Novarum Awards

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.

The relaunching will also make it possible for school groups to work on an issue that has emerged as a result of the COVID-19 virus or which has been compounded by the virus.

In re-launching the 2020 Awards, the chairman of the Rerum Novarum Foundation, Brian Lawrence, said : “When we launched these inaugural awards we could not have anticipated the disruption that would be caused to the school year. Rather than being a distraction in a difficult year, the relaunched awards will give schools the opportunity to focus on a project that will help students to better understand this new world, the social justice impacts of the virus and how the application of the principles of Catholic Social Teaching might be applied to alleviate injustice and deprivation.”

“The virus has brought the greatest threat to social justice that Australia has seen in generations. It has laid bare and exacerbated many social justice issues, sometimes raising deeper and more complex questions about fairness and justice and suggesting that more
complex solutions are required.”

Because there will also be many issues that will continue or re-emerge during and after the virus emergency the topics that may be chosen are not limited to those raised by the COVID19 virus.

Rerum Novarum was the encyclical letter written by Pope Leo XIII in 1891 to address important social issues of that time. It was the seminal document in the development of the Church’s social teaching in the modern era. Successive popes have issued encyclicals
addressing a broader range of important social issues and further developing the principles of Catholic Social Teaching. Each year the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference releases a social justice statement on a contemporary issue of social justice, based on these principles.

Expressions of interest are to be lodged by Friday 19 June 2020 and entries are to be lodged by Friday 6 November 2020.

Further information is available at

Email inquiries may be made to:

Lessons from a township that resisted apartheid

Oukasie, South Africa

Can people on the wrong end of power change the world by working together? Or are the moments when the powerless take control of their own lives doomed to be snuffed out?

The question is raised by Kally Forrest’s book Bonds of Justice: The Struggle for Oukasie. It is another in the Hidden Voices series which aims to recover and preserve writings on society which would otherwise fall through publishers’ nets. The book is short and highly readable, and so is accessible to a non-academic audience. It has been some years in the making – it uses information gathered in 2011 and 2012. But the story it tells raises topical issues.

Forrest details the fight, in the last years of apartheid, of the people of Oukasie, a township near Brits in North West Province, against an attempt to force them to move to Lethlabile, 25 km from Brits, primarily because their presence offended white residents. While it was common under apartheid for black people to be removed to areas where they would be out of sight to whites, it was uncommon for those who faced this threat to resist it successfully. Oukasie did manage to defeat the attempted removal.

It organised to do this despite a sustained campaign by the apartheid authorities. This included the murder of anti-removal leaders and members of their family, but its chief strategy was to divide residents. So, resistance could only succeed if the resisters were organised and united. While thousands were induced to move, enough stayed to force the authorities to abandon the removal and agree that Oukasie be developed.

Unusual circumstances made Oukasie an ideal site for strong grassroots organisation in which people remain united because they share in decisions.

The Resistance

Brits was the site of strong worker organisation, largely the work of Young Christian Workers (YCW), founded by Roman Catholic priests as a vehicle for European workers to change exploitative conditions through organised efforts. YCW, which in Brits was open to non-Christians, stressed democratic grassroots organisation based on careful strategy summed up in its motto – “See, judge, act” – which encouraged members to reflect on what they saw before deciding what to do about it.

Young Christian Workers was political, since it challenged the effect of economic power on its members. But it was wary of the political movements which, it believed, wanted workers to act in ways which advanced the movements’ interests but not their own. It was able to maintain this stance because, in contrast to much of the rest of the country, the political organisations were not active in Oukasie.

Its attitude was identical to that of a section of the trade union movement which happened to be strongly represented in Brits. Its vehicle was the union which became the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa). Young Christian Workers’s members gravitated to it and it developed a strong presence in Oukasie. The resistance to removal relied on the same stress on grassroots participation and careful strategy which Young Christian Workers and Numsa adopted in the workplace.

The Oukasie resistance became, therefore, a test for an approach which relied on the efforts of grassroots people rather than high profile political leaders to change the world.

In one sense, this route to change worked. Oukasie was reprieved, and this was followed by a period of development. The Brits transitional local government which was elected in the mid-1990s was led by Levy Mamobolo, a unionist and anti-removal leader who, until his untimely death, led the area effectively and honestly. The first few years seemed to show that democratic local organisation could also produce political leadership which serves the people rather than itself.

But, as Forrest shows, the Oukasie story does not end happily. Leaders committed to public service were forced out of the local government; public services declined and corruption increased.

Forrest therefore frames her book not as a story of the triumph of a particular way of fighting for change but as evidence of what is possible if people organise themselves in the way Oukasie did. The author of an important book on Numsa, she is an advocate of the approach followed by Young Christian Workers, Numsa and the Oukasie resisters. She contrasts this with the selfish elitism which gained control of Brits.

But she leaves unanswered the key question: is the grassroots organisation which saved Oukasie a realistic route to change, or is it doomed to give way to the top-down leadership to which Brits succumbed?

What does the ultimate defeat mean?Given the importance of this question, it is a pity that Forrest does not analyse the defeat of grassroots democracy in Oukasie. We are left wondering how and why control passed from the “good guys” to the “bad guys”.

One reason may well have been that the governing African National Congress’s (ANC’s) politics turned out to be more powerful than those who supported the Oukasie resistance hoped. Forrest records that key figures in the resistance to removal joined the ANC and served in its committees once it was unbanned. This suggests that Oukasie’s ability to maintain an independent path was purely a result of happenstance (the lack of a political presence in the area).

Despite these limitations, the book makes an important contribution. Forrest’s sympathy for the Oukasie campaign does not prevent her from highlighting weaknesses. She acknowledges that the campaign failed to prevent thousands leaving Oukasie, and she documents the defeat of the politics she champions as Oukasie moved from resistance to local governance. This makes the book a highly credible account of the events it describes.

The book should, therefore, be read by anyone concerned with democracy’s future in South Africa, but in other contexts too. It should also trigger a debate on whether the political approach it describes is feasible.


, Professor of Political Studies, University of Johannesburg


The Conversation

World War II martyrs on both sides

Jocist martyrs

World War II in Europe ended 75 years ago in May 1945. Right to the end, however, JOC and JEC leaders continued to die in Nazi concentration camps.

The 23-year-old French YCW leader, Marcel Carrier, who had been sent to Germany as forced labour, was one of the last, dying at the Flossenburg concentration on 6 May 1945 – just two days before the end of fighting.

Married at eighteen, he was survived by his wife and three young daughters.

The French priest, René Giraudet, whose youthful ambition to become a missionary, had been thwarted by ill health, had volunteered to go to Germany to work as a clandestine chaplain to the workers who had been sent there.

Like Marcel Carrier, he was arrested for his work with the Catholic Action groups that had been organised among the French workers.

He was imprisoned in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp until its liberation by American troops on 15 April 1945. Already weakened by typhus, he was evacuated by plane to Paris where he died in hospital on 12 June.

However, Catholic Action martyrs were not restricted to the Allied side.

Born on 25 January 1885, Erich Klausener served in the German army during World War I. He was awarded the Iron Cross Second Class in 1914 and the Iron Cross First Class in 1917 for his bravery.

After the war, he became a public servant, serving in various ministries, heading the Police Division of the Ministry of the Interior from 1924.

In 1928, he became head of German Catholic Action and took a strong stand against the nazification of Germany during the 1930s.

On 24 June 1934, he openly criticised the growing violence of Hitler’s government in a speech to the Catholic Congress.

Six days later during the Night of the Long Knives on 30 June 1934, he was assassinated on the orders of Reinhard Heydrich.

Klausener was supported in his opposition to Hitler by Bishop August Von Galen. However, most German bishops failed to oppose the Nazi regime.


Marcel Carrier (Cardijn Pioneers)

René Giraudet (Cardijn Priests)

Erich Klausener (Spartacus Educational)Bishop August von Galen (Spartacus Educational)

Laudato Si’ five years on

Laudato Si'

This month marks the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ important encyclical Laudato Si’ on “Care for Our Common Home,” updating Catholic Social Teaching on environmental as well as labour and other issues.

Brian Lawrence offers a detailed analysis of the encyclical in his article “The Economics of Laudato Si’: No surprises here” published by the Australian Catholic Council for Employment Relations.”

“Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ is primarily concerned with a range of environmental issues, particularly climate change. However, as the Pope emphasises, environmental issues cannot be separated from the promotion of social justice, the need to care for the poor and the operation of economic systems. As a result, a significant part of the encyclical draws on Catholic social teaching on economic affairs and the operation of markets,” Lawrence writes.

“The encyclical’s analysis and consideration of economic issues has been criticised in some quarters. Prominent attacks on the encyclical, and Pope Francis personally, are to be found in editions of The Australian and The Weekend Australian newspapers published shortly after the publication of the encyclical.

“The editorial of The Weekend Australian on 27-28 June 2015 claimed that Pope Francis and his advisers “emerge as environmental populists and economic ideologues of a quasi-Marxist bent”, that his views “are not part of the church’s deposit of the faith and they are not tenets of faith and morals” and that “the flock is not obliged to follow the shepherd” in his attempt to “reposition the church so far to the green-left”.

“The substance of the editorial is a personal attack on Pope Francis for taking the Catholic Church into new areas of social and economic teaching and departing from the teaching of his predecessors. These claims are part of an ongoing narrative being spread in sections of the media and in social commentary. Confronting the matters raised in the editorial is a means of setting the public record straight.

The response to the editorial in this paper falls into several section: an outline of the nature and purpose of Catholic social teaching; a review of Catholic social teaching on economics and markets; an outline of what Laudato Si’ says on economic matters; a response to the editorial’s use of quotations from the encyclical; and a response to the various criticisms made in the editorial.

“This paper demonstrates these kinds of criticisms of the economics of Laudato Si’ are without foundation and that what Pope Francis has said on economic issues is sound and is perfectly consistent with earlier Catholic social teaching on economic issues, including the operation and regulation of markets. The criticisms of Pope Francis and the encyclical by The Weekend Australian are unjustified and grossly unfair,” Lawrence concludes.

Meanwhile, Parramatta YCW are taking action as part of Laudato Si’ Week, writes youth engagement officer, Thomas Magri in Catholic Outlook.

“We are taking action with the introduction of a range of climate justice projects including vegan cooking classes, environmental documentary reviews, social inquiries and reviews and engaging our Facebook community to keep everyone updated.

“This project began when we realised that a lot of the YCW members held climate justice quite close to their hearts and are passionate about this issue. They felt that if they did not take action now, that future generations will not be able to live the same quality of life that we do now.

“Soon after this, we put together a climate justice coordination team which was made up of three people. As the call to ‘care for our common home’ talks about working in unity with everyone, we are all equal on this earth so let’s work towards a community where we are working towards a common good.

‘The community reacted strongly to our projects with our vegan cooking classes selling out after only a few days of advertisement. Once completed, it left everyone who attended eager and passionate to be more involved and to start taking action in their personal lives.

Parramatta YCW is in the process of planning sustainability classes which will be paired up with running a community garden. The classes will teach practical skills which would allow people to take personal action in their own lives at home to reduce their carbon footprint.


Brian Lawrence, The Economics of Laudato Si’: No surprises here (Australian Catholic Council for Employment Relations)

Thomas Magri, Climate justice close to hearts of Parramatta Young Christian Workers (Catholic Outlook)


Parramatta YCW


Training Catholic Activists in New Zealand

See Judge Act

Rod Orange’s book, “See, Judge, Act, Training Catholic Activists in New Zealand, 1939-1983” is a history of the lay leadership training groups In this country, variously known as the Catholic Youth Movement (CYM), later the Young Christian Workers (YCW), and affiliated with Young Christian Students (YCS) and the Christian Family Movement (CFM), writes Pat Lythe in NZ Catholic, writes Pat Lythe, a former Parish and Pastoral Services Group leader at Auckland diocese, in NZ Catholic magazine.

“It is more than just a history; it is an analysis of the foundational principles behind the ‘See, Judge, Act’ theology, combining Catholic social teaching with leadership training In order to reform society. It traces the development and growth of the groups and their later decline and eventual closure. Rod himself was a leader In the movement, but Jocelyn Franklin, who had years as a full-time leader and had surveyed members about their experiences, was the Inspiration and instigator of the book. Jocelyn sadly died the day the book was released.

“Belgian priest Joseph Cardijn developed the movement to prepare young leaders to be the yeast in the dough of society struggling in the disturbed social conditions of the Depression and two world wars. The author traces the history from the beginnings in Dunedin in 1937, followed by groups in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington. The study programs and the numbers and, In many cases, names of young people involved are examined. Prior to Vatican II, when there was very little lay involvement in the Church, these groups expanded and blossomed

“In the 1950s and 1960s. Chapter 6 looks at the influence of Vatican II on the movement and Chapter 7 covers the more radical positions the movement began to take, followed by a proliferation of other groups people could join. Chapter 8 looks at the decline of the movement, and the last chapter asks “what now” under Pope Francis?

“Rod has meticulously researched every group, published as many photographs as he could find and name, and gives an interesting take on the support or otherwise of the hierarchy. Many of our leaders today, (or yesterday!), Jim Anderton, Ivan Snook,, Paul and Shirley Temm, Alf Kirk, Ian Shirley, Cardinal Tom Williams, and Manuka Henare were products of this Catholic Action movement.

“Rod asks at the end, what are we doing today which enables our lay people to use their lived experience as a catalyst for being missionary in today’s world? In a ‘Fit for Mission’ scenario, it Is a very pertinent question. A book to reminisce through, but to be challenged by,” Lythe concludes.

Former YCW chaplain, Jim Consedine, also has another review in Common Good, magazine.

“What a labour of love this book is!” Consedine begins.

“For more than 10 years, Rod Orange researched, wrote and has finally produced an amazing history of not just one Church lay organisation, but four-the Catholic Youth Movement (CYM), Young Christian Workers (YCW), Young Christian Students (YCS) and the Christian Family Movement (CFM). These movements thrived in New Zealand during the 1960s and 1970s and gradually died out in the 1980s.

“At their peak, they helped form several thousand lay Catholics nationwide about Christian life and how to live it in today’s world. Their formula was simple – to follow the mantra of the prophetic Belgian priest/founder Joseph Cardijn: See, Judge, Act. Nourished by their regular weekly meetings, these folk went into their workplaces, homes and wider communities to bear witness to the message of Christ as found in the gospels and in Catholic teaching.

“Rod Orange explores in much detail the modus operandi of the movements, interviews many key leaders and draws on written archival material. Ultimately he asks and attempts to answer the difficult question-why did they flourish so successfully for so long and then wither and die within a short few years? He looks at the key role bishops and chaplains played, the secular social movements that arose during the latter period, the upheaval in the Church after Vatican II, and the influence changing social mores and values had on Church lay movements.

“He has produced a very readable popular history, filled with facts and insights. Illustrated with more than 100 photographs, many of them along with a lucid text provide historic insights into the youth of previous generations and their involvement with the Church.

See, Judge, Act largely succeeds in its aims to provide an eyewitness account of the lay movements of the era, 1937-83. That he opens up many questions which need far more in-depth reflection is clear and answers are not immediate. Historians in the future will hopefully seek resolution to such questions and will find this book a great aid in their further research.


NZ Catholic

Common Good (Catholic Worker)


SEE, JUDGE, ACT – Training Catholic Activists in Now Zealand, 1937-1983. By Rod Orange, (Steele Roberts Aotoaroa, 2019) $NZ39.99

International Week of Young Workers


As it has done since the 1980s, the International YCW is this week celebrating the International Week of Young Workers, which has its origins with the Brazilian YCW which first celebrated the National Week of Young Workers in 1970.

The IYCW adopted it as an international event in 1983. This year, however, the movement is celebrating the week as a virtual event.

Former IYCW chaplain, Bishop Reginaldo Andrietta of Jales, Brazil, has written a special prayer for the event.

“The working class in Brazil has suffered a serious setback that is affecting everyone but especially young people,” he writes. “In the face of the current scenario, we are called to unify our voices and actions.

“As a milestone for this challenge, we invite all young people and all people who share our struggle for worthy living and working conditions, to join us, praying as follows:


Jesus, I offer you this day:
my work, my difficulties,
Battles, joys and hopes. Grant to us,
young people who are preparing for our professional life,
who are looking for jobs
or who have work,
the consciousness of our dignity,
of our rights and our responsibilities. Grant us the grace to witness our love of life
and to what is honest and just,
through our daily dedication to our union and organisations,
and the wisdom of to act collectively
for the betterment of our living and working conditions. Finally, grant us
loyalty to the mission of working
For the kingdom that is yours,
today and always.



The IYCW celebrates the International Week of Young Workers – April 24th – May 1st, 2020 (JOCI)

Dom Reginaldo Andrietta (Facebook)

Dom Reginaldo Andrietta

Labour’s battlefield

Murderous work

“May the soul of every worker who died on labour’s battlefield rest in peace!” reads the YCW Prayer.

Nor was it an exaggeration to speak of “labour’s battlefield” as a September 1926 article in  the YCW newspaper, La Jeunesse Ouvrière makes clear.

Entitled “Le Travail Meurtrier” or “Murderous Work,” the article, probably written by Fernand Tonnet, cites a recent edition of a Belgian newspaper in which he noted eight work accidents:

• in Brussels, a painter fell twenty meters resulting in two broken legs;

• at Marpent, a young worker stumbled and slipped under a locomotive and was beheaded;

• at Frameries, a miner was killed in a landslide;

• at Frameries, another miner suffered a broken leg from falling equipment;

• at Luingne, an agricultural worker, working on a thresher, had his head caught leaving him in a very serious condition;

• at Selzaete, a kid became caught in a strap and was killed;

• at Marcinelle, a worker fell into a cooling tank causing instantanous death;

• at Tournai, a brewery worker was seriously burned by boiling beer.

In the face of such problems, it is no surprise that Tonnet went on to recommend that “at each YCW meeting, we need to spend a few minutes talking about industrial accidents.”

“YCW leaders reading their daily newspaper should take an interest in the stories of accidents that have occurred to their working brothers and sisters,” he wrote

“It will only be by repeated and sustained effort that we will manage to improve security, care attention and protection in work practices and the working environment.

“Each YCW leader needs to draw the attention of other leaders to the frightening scourge of the workplace accident. Each one must feel moved by the stories in the weekly press release of the losses suffered on the labour field of honour of by the army of workers, including scientists, technicians and blue collar workers,” he concluded.

Lest we think that such problems are from the past or still only exist in developing countries, e.g. the Rana Plaza disaster, Safe Work Australia reminds us that 63 workers have already died in industrial accidents in Australia so far this year (as of 23 April).

Moreover, the total for 2019 was 168, up from 144 in 2018.

Clearly, labour remains a battlefield for many.

Stefan Gigacz

JOC 1929

ACI asks PM to ensure no-one left behind in Covid crisis

ACI chairman, Brian Lawrence, has joined a historic group of Australian Catholics including a number of bishops; Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) and the CEOs of several major Catholic health and social services providers in writing to Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, raising serious concerns for two groups of people that remain on the margins of our community and vulnerable to both the predations of the COVID-19 virus and the despair that comes with it.

All 44 signatories have decided that it is time for the letter to be made public, and for Catholics around the country to join in the movement to ensure nobody is left behind, Catholic Outlook adds.

“Right now Australia is home to more than 1.5 million temporary visa holders,” said Fr Peter Smith, Promotor of Justice and Peace, Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney. “These women and men are members of our communities and congregations: they pray in our pews, work in our restaurants, farms, factories, aged care homes, supermarkets, and NGOs, study in our schools and universities, and live in our neighbourhoods. And we have abandoned them to their fate.”

“We need to look to Singapore to see what can happen when a wealthy, sophisticated nation cares only for their own citizens and tries to ignore all those in their country,” continued Fr Smith. “This virus doesn’t recognise passport status; it devastates everyone equally.”

Director of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Australia, Carolina Gottardo, said, “Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Australia has delivered emergency food packages to more than 500 refugees, people seeking asylum and migrants in vulnerable situations who have lost jobs, have no safety net and cannot go home in the last two weeks alone. The demand for JRS’s services including emergency relief has also increased twofold. The situation is desperate.”

“Many of the women, children, and men we support were already living in severely overcrowded dwellings. Now, as rental arrears build up and some landlords continue to threaten eviction, we are likely to see a surge of temporary visa holders in clusters of Western Sydney who are unable to self-isolate or practice social distancing,” Ms Gottardo continued.

“Our Federal Government’s exclusion of temporary visa holders from a basic temporary net is creating a situation in which people cannot protect themselves or the wider community from COVID-19,” concluded Ms. Gottardo.

Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv of Parramatta, the Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, pointed to an even more vulnerable group saying, “People who have been trafficked, victims of modern slavery, people seeking asylum, and women on temporary visas experiencing domestic violence are all excluded from support and access to Medicare and safe homes. This is not who we want to be as a nation.”

“We are really heartened to see the Tasmanian government give $3 million to support migrant workers in their state. This is not just welcome financial support it is an act of compassion and solidarity that recognises the vulnerability of these workers and the need to protect all people affected by COVID-19 for public health reasons,” Bishop Long said.

The letter also highlights imminent danger posed by the virus for the most distraught group of people – those who came seeking Australia’s protection and who are currently being held in hotels and detention centres across Australia.

Given the circumstances in which they live, this group cannot meet required physical distancing measures and are vulnerable to guards and service providers entering and leaving the facility at will, and potentially carrying COVID-19.

The signatories to the letter ask the Federal Government to remember its responsibility for ensuring safety and human rights of everyone residing within its jurisdiction, even temporarily.

Everyone in Australian community who is in hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including people seeking protection, must be given temporary access to a financial safety net, Medicare, and adequate shelter if they are homeless.

Nobody should be left behind in this time of extraordinary need.

Read the public letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison below:

Australian Catholics ask the Prime Minister to ensure that we really are all in this together

On the 7th of April, 2020, an historic group of Australian Catholics service providers, Religious Orders and Bishops wrote to Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, and applauded he and his government for showing leadership and agency in the face of this global pandemic. The Prime Minister was congratulated for deploying the vast resources of our wealthy nation in an effort to protect all Australians, including the vulnerable and ensure no one is left to deal with this pandemic on their own.

However, the letter raised two groups of people that remain on the margins of our community and vulnerable to both the predations of the COVID-19 virus and the despair that comes with such vulnerability.

In the first group there are more than 1.5 million temporary visa holders in the Australian community. Many thousands are members of our congregations: they pray in our pews, work in our restaurants, farms, factories, aged care homes, supermarkets, and NGOs, study in our schools and universities, and live in our neighbourhoods.

They are losing their jobs but have no access to any form of financial safety net, to Medicare, to temporary shelter, and to fundamental support services such as free legal advice. Support from overseas family members may also be affected. Most cannot return home at this time.

Within this population, some are in an even more precarious situation: trafficked people and victims of modern slavery, people seeking asylum, and women on temporary visas experiencing domestic violence. For them, the impacts of COVID-19 and the exclusions from government support sit atop an already dangerous and exclusionary reality.

There are also people seeking asylum and refugees living in the community supported by volunteers who provide meal assistance through food banks and vouchers. At present, the number of volunteers has significantly dropped due to social distancing requirements and yet there remains an urgent need for stocking food banks. We are already seeing all kinds of public health and economic impacts: a surge in homelessness, and destitution, including people without food on their tables; a concomitant growth in people who find they cannot meet social distancing and self-isolation requirements; and an increase of already sick individuals without Medicare who are unable to seek timely health care.

The second group includes the people who came seeking Australia’s protection and who are currently being held in hotels and detention centres across Australia. This group have no choice about whether they take the vitally needed steps in maintaining physical distance and hand and coughing hygiene. Despite having committed no crime, they are being held in detention where social distancing is impossible and they are vulnerable with guards and service providers coming and going. We join with the Australian Society for Infection Disease and the Australian College of Infection Prevention to urge the Morrison-government to release asylum seekers and refugees from detention.

To this end, we ask that everyone in the Australian community who is in hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including people seeking protection, be given temporary access to a financial safety net, Medicare, and adequate shelter if they are homeless.

Christians across Australia, including Catholics, have consistently shown concern for the welfare and lives of people who are on the margins. As Catholic leaders, we do the same.

We ask the Federal Government to remember its responsibility for ensuring safety and human rights of everyone residing within its jurisdiction, even temporarily. In the same way, we hope that foreign governments will be mindful of the needs of Australians stranded abroad at this time.

Australia cannot afford to leave some of the most vulnerable people in our community behind. COVID-19 makes us all as vulnerable as the most vulnerable person in Australia. Our support and generosity should extend to everyone in Australia who is in need of it at this critical moment.

None of us have ever experienced what we are going through today. It is a health crisis and becoming an economic crisis, but we must not let it become a crisis for our shared humanity. We must widen the circle of protection and care to include every person in Australia. Our health demands that as does our humanity.

List of Signatories

Fr. Peter Smith, Justice and Peace Promoter, Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney

Most Reverend Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv DD STL, Chair of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) Commission for Social Justice – Mission and Service, Bishop of Parramatta

Most Reverend Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ, Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Adelaide and Bishop of Port Pirie

Most Reverend Bishop Charles Gauci DD, Bishop of Darwin

Most Reverend Bishop Terence John Gerard Brady, Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney

Brother Peter Carroll FMS, President of Catholic Religious Australia (CRA); Provincial, Marist Brothers Province of Australia; Leader, Association of St. Marcellin Champagnat

Very Reverend Fr. Brian McCoy SJ, Provincial, Jesuit Province of Australia

Very Reverend Peter Jones OSA, Prior Provincial, Order of St. Augustine, Province of Australasia

Sr. Alice Foley OCD, Congregational Leader, Carmelite Nuns of Australia

Sr. Clare Nolan RSC, Congregational Leader, Sisters of Charity, Australia

Sr. Eveline Crotty, Institute Leader, Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and PNG

Sr. Jan Barnett rsj, Josephite Justice Coordinator, Josephite Justice Network of Australia

Sr. Louise McKeogh FMA, Provincial, Salesian Sisters, South Pacific Region

Sr. Mary-Louise Petro, Congregational Leader, Sisters of Mercy Parramatta

Sr. Monica Cavanagh rsj, Congregational Leader, Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart

Sr. Monica Walsh, Province Leader, Sisters of the Good Sheperd, Australia-Aotearoa/New Zealand

Sr. Patty Fawkner SGS, Provincial Leader, Sisters of the Good Samaritan, Australia

Sr. Stancea Vichie mss, Congregational Leader, Missionary Sisters of Service, Australia

Fr. Tom McDonough CP, Provincial Superior, Passionist Brothers of Australia

Fr. Brian Lucas, National Director, Catholic Mission

John Ferguson, Director, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Office for Social Justice

Dr. Cristina Lledo Gomez, Chair, Australian Catholic Social Justice Council (ACSJC)

Kirsty Robertson, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Caritas Australia

Toby Hall, Group Chief Executive Officer, St. Vincent’s Health Australia

Carolina Gottardo, Director, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Australia; Co-Chair, Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum (CAPSA)

Julie Edwards, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Jesuit Social Services; Co-Chair, Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum (CAPSA)

Claire Victory, National President, St. Vincent De Paul Society National Council of Australia

Louise Miller Frost, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), St. Vincent De Paul Society (SA)

Jack de Groot, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), St. Vincent De Paul Society (NSW)

Joshua Lourensz, Executive Director, Catholic Social Services Victoria (CSSV)

Maurizio Vespa, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), St. Francis Social Services and the House of Welcome

Sr. Brigid Arthur csb, Founder and Coordinator, Brigidine Asylum Seeker Project (BASP)

Patrice Moriarty, Social Justice Coordinator, Catholic Diocese of Parramatta

Brian Lawrence, Chairperson, Australian Cardijn Institute

Helen Forde, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Jesuit Mission

Phil Glendenning, Director, Edmund Rice Centre (ERC)

Richard Haddock, Chair, Mary Aikenhead Ministries

Fergus Fitzsimons, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Centacare New England NorthWest, The Social Services Agency of the Catholic Diocese of Armidale

Rebecca Bromhead, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Marist Solidarity Australia

Dr. Frank Malloy, National Director, Marist Schools Australia

Peter Loughnane, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Catholic Care – Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains

Mark Phillips, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Catholic Care – Sydney

John Lochowiak, Chairperson, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC)

Sr Louise Cleary csb, President, Australian Catholic Religious against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH)

Sr Brigitte Sipa, Regional Leader, Sisters of St Joseph Centre West Region

Sr Mary Clare Holland OP, Prioress, Dominican Sisters of Eastern Australia and the Solomon Islands

Cath Garner, Group Director, Cabrini Outreach

Sue Williams, Chief Executive Officer, Cabrini Health

Wendy Hildebrand ibvm, Province Leader, Loreto Sisters Australia & S.E. Asia Province

Libby Rogerson ibvm, Member, Loreto Justice Network

Bishop Vincent’s Message for the Feast of St Joseph the Worker

Bishop Vincent Long

As we mark the Feast of St Joseph the Worker this year, the most significant issue affecting the work life of Australians is the impact of COVID-19. Like you, I have found it deeply distressing to see so many thousands of people queuing to apply for government assistance.

Many Australians have been experiencing their first encounters with CentreLink and our income support systems. We are only as strong as our weakest link. Let us hope that this exposure will translate into a broader and enduring societal solidarity with those who lack adequate income for their needs, those who are struggling to simply survive from day to day and others less fortunate in our community.

We are pleased to see that the JobSeeker payment, which has replaced NewStart, is a more adequate amount – at least for the time being. It is also appropriate that unrealistic mutual obligation requirements have been suspended at this time. The JobKeeper payments too are a welcome effort to support both workers and businesses. However there remain many people who are unable to access this support and are at risk of falling through the cracks.

Over and over the Scriptures encourage us to welcome and care for the ‘strangers’ among us. Excluding asylum seekers and temporary protection visa holders from government assistance is not only inhumane and unworthy of a decent society, it is also dangerous to public health at this time. Similarly, international students and non-residents on working visas are not eligible for income support. Would a good host, who invited guests to contribute to the economy by purchasing educational services or filling skills gaps, simply turn a blind eye to their needs at a time like this?

This major shock to our community, and economy, could provide an opportunity to reset our thinking about how we support the poorest, most marginalized, and most vulnerable members of our community.
In a climate of fear, there is a tendency to narrow our circle. God calls us to a different way: working together, needing each other, being the body of Christ. May St Joseph, model of integrity and solidarity inspire us to serve and to care for all. Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv
Bishop of Parramatta
Chair, Bishops Commission for Social Justice – Mission and Service

Future of Work project

Future of Work

ACI has been considering the possibility of researching Future of Work issues, including the possibility of a universal basic wage, the need for which is particularly evident in poorer countries and in the gig economy within all countries, in conjunction with the Vatican-based Future of Work: Labour After Laudato Si‘ project.

Last month (and before the Pope’s message), we contacted the project with a view to participating in a project that falls short of a Universal Basic Income, but which may achieve the same objects, at least in some economic systems (such as Australia’s). Proving that universal wage and welfare safety nets can work in wealthier economies can provide a way forward for emerging economies. The text of the approach to the Future of Work project included an outline of the two parts of the research being considered.

The first would focus on the rights of workers to a just wage and other employment conditions and protections, with particular emphasis on the rights of workers who do not have secure and full time work, ie workers in the gig economy. In Australia minimum wage rates are based on full time work of 38 hours per week. “Casual” workers, that is those who have no ongoing employment rights, typically receive a casual loading of 25%, which is partly based on compensation for not having paid holidays and sick leave. The impact of the Covid-19 virus on industries with a high degree of casual employment (hospitality and retail, mainly) has demonstrated that casual workers in those industries who are required to stay away from work through illness or who are not engaged because of depressed custom are effectively left without proper support and are not able to readily access unemployment benefits. This part of the research might be called the wages (or employment) safety net.

The second part of the project would look at the social safety net and its capacity to be integrated with the wages safety net so that casual and gig economy workers may be supported by the social safety net when they have inadequate work. In general, casual workers who are unable to secure sufficient work are entitled to a means-tested unemployment benefit, but it is bureaucratic, lacking flexibility and set at poverty levels. These kinds of problems have led some to argue for a Universal Basic Income. However, this second part of the project would look at other measures that are capable of providing sufficient support for workers. It would not be based on a rejection of the concept of a Universal Basic Income, but would contain the critical elements of the concept (through income and services providing for adequate food, health, housing, education, etc), perhaps demonstrating that taking the steps towards a Universal Basic Income would be feasible.

One of the drivers of this research would be the need to develop a more effective way of supporting workers with family responsibilities; and to provide the social framework where couples can commit to raising a family without the fear of poverty. This is an important consideration arising from Catholic Social Teaching.

If you are interested in this project, please contact Stefan Gigacz at


Future of Work: Labour After Laudato Si’

Remembering Mike Bowden

Mike Bowden

Former Richmond footballer and recent PhD graduate from Yarra Theological Union and the University of Divinity, Mike Bowden, died on Holy Saturday, 11 April this year, after a long battle with Motor Neurone Disease (MND). 

Bowden’s doctoral thesis, entitled Searching Altyerre to Reveal the Cosmic Christ: A contribution to the dialogue between the ancient Arrernte imaginary and Christianity, is now being prepared for publication.

The thesis aims to show the continuing relevance of the “Altyerre”, which can be translated as dreaming, dreamtime, abiding event, creator or God, has continuing relevance not only for the local Arrernte people. Indeed, the Altyerre helped sustain the people in the face of the invasion by European colonistsn which threatened the Arrernte people with extinction, Bowden writes..

“The Arrernte have constructed an imaginary: a deeply structured foundational description of reality, defined in the thesis as Altyerre-Catholicism,” Bowden writes.

“Altyerre-Catholicism in the way it is lived is a gift to the Catholic Church and to the world,” he writes. “And in a manner beyond even the best of charity known to Christians – despite Invasion, dispossession, marginalisation, impoverishment, incarceration, and the sad dismissal of their gifts by White Australia – they continue to offer this richness to anyone and everyone who walks up to their open front door.”

Mike Bowden was raised as a Catholic in Melbourne, attending St Kevin’s College, Toorak, before entering Corpus Christi Seminary. However, after two years he decided that the ordained priesthood was not his path. 

He married his wife, Judy, in 1969, the same year he won a VFL premiership with Richmond.

Mike and Judy had six sons, Sean, Rhett, Kane, Joel, Patrick and Charlie and one daughter Majella.

In 1983 the family moved to Pukatja, an Aboriginal community of Pitjantjatjara and Yankuntjatjara people on the South Australian and Northern Territory border, about 150 kilometres from Uluru. There he taught at the Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Catholic College in Alice Springs founding the Ntyarlke Unit; before moving to Tangentyere Council as community development manager.

He graduated with his PhD in February 2020, just two months before his death.

“A recipient of the Medal of the Order of Australia, a life member of the Australian Labor Party and the Richmond Football Club, (Mike Bowden) was archetypically Australian; a sporting hero; with sporting hero children; he had friendship and respect Australia-wide; a beautiful wife who balanced and loved him in every way; around him were political and community leaders who respected and followed his guidance,” 


The circle continues for Dr Bowden (Vox/Southern Cross)

Mike Bowden: Defined by decency, not strength (Sydney Morning Herald)

Mike Bowden at his PhD graduation (Vox)

Towards a Christian Worker Movement?

Paul McGuire

Having joined the YCW as a student at age 14 in 1960 and having worked full time for the YCS national office in 1968-9, I have had an interest in the history of both and, from time to time, use Trove to look up some aspect of their history.

I recently found a reference in the index of YCW archives which referred to records dating from 1944 regarding a credit union in Glenhuntly being operated by the National Christian Workers Movement (NCWM).  I had no recollection of this organisation so I turned to Trove.

[Search tip: search “National Christian Workers Movement or NCWM and use Advance Search option to exclude “Young”, otherwise you will be inundated with YCW entries.]

A good starting point in telling the story of the NCWM is a piece by Edmund Campion drawing on his book ‘Australian Catholics’ (Viking 1987) which is published at

The Australian National Secretariat of Catholic Action (ANSCA) was established in Melbourne in 1937 by the Australian bishops for the purpose of developing specialised movements on the Jocist model.

The Advocate (in Melbourne) had an article on 3 February 1938 under the heading “Formation for Catholic Action”.  An insert introduced the article:

“The National Secretariat of Catholic Action which has been set up in Melbourne inaugurates a work of far-reaching importance for Australia. It will be conducted by laymen, but their efforts will be fruitless without the direction and cooperation of the priest. What is the function of the priest in the lay apostolate? In this article, Fr. Kothen, Assistant Chief of the Jocist movement, which has been enthusiastically praised by the Pope, defines the part of the priest in the formation of militants.”

Fr Kothen’s article commences:

“One day I asked Canon Cardijn to tell me exactly what is the role of the priest in the Young Christian Workers’ Movement, and he replied: “The priest is everything and he is nothing.”

Campion writes:

“In looking at the origins of Catholic Action Australia, we must remember Kevin T. Kelly, who corresponded with Cardijn and in 1939 published a pamphlet on the YCW (Jocists) that sold 15,000 copies in 6 months. In the same year, Paul McGuire and English priest John Fitzsimons published a book.’Restoring All Things’ – the first major English language publication on Jocism.”

The role of Paul McGuire

The reference to Paul McGuire (see photos above and below) is significant.  The earliest reference that I found in Trove to “Christian Workers Movement” was to the following in The Advertiser of 1 August 1938, under the headings “Sweeping Social Move in Europe” and “Adelaide Author Finds Workers’ Ideal”:

“The amazing development of a most significant social movement in Europe — the Christian Workers’ Movement — was described by Mr Paul McGuire, the Australian author and lecturer, on his return to Adelaide by the Mooltanon Saturday after an extensive 15 months’ tour abroad lecturing and studying social conditions — and writing detective novels in his spare time.”

Paul McGuire Paul McGuire / State Library of South Australia

Paul McGuire’s impressive entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography is at

Clearly, ANSCA was looking at adult movements to be formed along Jocist lines (as it did with the the National Catholic Rural Movement), but there is limited reference in the Trove documents to the connection between it and the National Christian Workers Movement (NCWM).

The National Christian Workers’ Movement

The earliest report regarding the NCWM that I found was in The Advocate in September 1941 reporting that the Coburg branch of the NCWM had started a credit union; see

Two years later it reported that the Coburg branch of the NCWM had sponsored school sports for the seven Mercy schools in Brunswick and Coburg;

The promotion of credit unions was a major activity of the NCWM.  An article in The Advocate of 6 December 1944 reported that there were five credit unions operating in the archdiocese.  The report was based on the annual report of the NCWM given by K.W. Mitchell, an officer at ANSCA:

On the same page of The Advocate of 6 December 1944 is a report of a “Joint Conference of Workers and Employers” held by the NCWM and the League of St. Thomas More.  The report was introduced by the following:

“A remarkable and unusual conference took place in St Ignatius’ Hall, Richmond, on Sunday evening, November 26, when two Catholic organisations—one of employers, business and professional men; the other of workers—met in a combined session to affirm their loyalty to the Church’s programme of Social Justice, and their belief in the possibility of reconstruction through the collaboration of labour and management in Industry and Commerce. His Grace the Archbishop, Most Rev. D. Mannix, D.D., in the final address of the conference, praised the two organisations for the splendid spirit they had shown and expressed his hope that the collaboration thus demonstrated would become even more widespread and fruitful in the future.”

The article included:

“Mr. K. W. Mitchell then read a report of the activities of the N.C.W.M., which appears later.

Mr. F. K. Maher spoke of the work of the League and of practical measures it had in hand.”

Mr Maher, like Mr Mitchell, was an officer of ANSCA.

Frank Maher was a lecturer in the Melbourne University Law School when I started law in 1964, but I had no idea then of his background in Church affairs. He was very well regarded by the students. (You can see his legal publications by searching “F K H Maher”.) When I was working for the YCS in 1968-9 I came across the minutes of the first meetings during the 1940s of the bishops’ advisory committee for establishing the YCS as a national body. The meetings were attended by both Mitchell and Maher and, among others, Fr James Gleeson, later Archbishop of Adelaide, and Bob Santamaria.

We should keep in mind that these were the war years and that much of the focus of the ANSCA was post-war development, a matter made clear from the early days of the war with the publication of the Bishops’ Social Justice Statement of 1941, Justice Now!.

The Trove searches suggest that the Richmond branch, based on St Ignatius where the joint conference had been organised in 1944, was the most active NCWM branch with 220 members.  Among its activities was the construction of a Trade School for the training of boys, at a cost of £1,200 and leaving it with a very large debt of £1,000. The article is worth a read:

Part of the article reads:

“The National Christian Workers’ Movement is a Catholic Action organisation, binding together all adult workers in one movement. It is a workers’ movement—it is run by workers—it is for the workers. It has nothing to do with’ an alleged body called “The Movement,” said to be working in trade unions, according to recent Communist propaganda.”


As much as the NCWM may have wished to steer clear of politics and the fights for the control of unions, the course of politics and Church and quasi-Church activities would have precluded any such independence.  The Richmond branch of the Labor Party, with many Catholic members, was a key player in the events leading to The Split in the mid-1950s, which had long term adverse consequences for both the Catholic Church and the Labor Party.

Newspaper reports of the NCWM disappear by the Split in the mid-1950s.  The ongoing contribution of the NCWM appears to have been the Cana conferences and credit unions.

How the NCWM related to the emerging YCW in the 1940s would be an interesting field of inquiry.  The relationship between Fr Lombard, the first Chaplain of the YCW was no fan of ANSCA.  Fr Bruce Duncan has written that by 1941 “the strong-willed Lombard was unwilling to have YCW come under the control of ANSCA or to follow its direction”;

The need for an adult jocist movement

Joseph Cardijn and many others worked towards an adult Jocist movement for and by workers.  In Australia it failed even though the Australian YCW became one of the strongest YCW movements in the world.  The Christian Family Movement, which emerged in the 1960s (and disappeared in the 1970s) was a Jocist-based organisation, involving a number of former YCW and YCS members, but it did not have a distinctly worker character

Internationally, the World Movement of Christian Workers is the non-youth movement most connected with the Jocist tradition; see

The World Movement of Christian Workers has a distinctly working class orientation.  “Its member organizations promote the interests of all those who rely upon their work or for their income, whether formally or informally.”  It does not have an Australian affiliate.

The WMCW has its origins in May 1961 when delegates from 42 movements met in Rome on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the encyclical Rerum Novarum. The International YCW was one of those movements.

Brian Lawrence

Adult apostolate

Finding archival treasure with Trove

Trove website

If you haven’t done so, I recommend that you visit the National Library’s Trove website at

Its principal interest for me is its digitised newspapers stretching back to the earliest newspapers across Australia, but there are many other kinds of documents, printed, sound and film.   It is a great resource for family history, but that is only a small part of its value.

The digitisation of newspapers has opened a new world for those who are interested political, social and economic aspects of Australian history.  However, there is, at this point in time, little use of the data.

The data on Trove present a new world for the teaching of Australian history.  Gone are the days when you had to turn pages of bound copies of newspapers in some hard to access place to find what you have been looking for; and then having little or no chance to make a copy.  Perhaps more will discover Trove while in lockdown.

The role of Cardinal Moran

I also have an interest in the history of the Irish and, it follows, Catholics in Australia.  And, again it follows, anything to do with both in politics and the labour movement.  I grew up in Melbourne where Archbishop Mannix had been the stand-out Irish Catholic leader since the First World War and unaware of the impact that Cardinal Moran had in Sydney and beyond in the decades before Mannix.

I discovered the full text of Cardinal Moran’s address on the Rights and Duties of Labour given in August 1891, three months after Rerum Novarum, and delivered in the New Masonic Hall in Sydney (yes, the location is correct).  The vote of thanks was moved by Edmund Barton and seconded by Richard O’Connor, both very significant players in the march to federation, with the former becoming Australia’s first Prime Minister and then a judge of the High Court and the latter becoming a senator in the first Australian Parliament and then a judge of the High Court.  You can access the 7,000 word report of Cardinal Moran’s address and the vote of thanks at

Another interesting and intriguing address by Cardinal Moran was given at the Communion Breakfast of the Irish National Foresters in 1904 where he paints a very glowing picture of life in Ireland at the end of the nineteenth century, a century that started when “the great majority of the people of Ireland were serfs in their own land” and “treated as slaves”;

Cardinal Moran saw the Australian experience of Catholics and Protestants, of Irish and English, working together for common causes as a model for a future united Ireland, capable, like Australia, of remaining within the British Empire.  Whether or not it was realistic at that time, it proved to untenable after the brutal British response to the Easter Rising in 1916.

Brian Lawrence

Cardinal Patrick Moran

Consider ‘universal basic wage’: Pope

Pope Francis

In a 12 April 2020 letter to the World Meeting of Popular Movements, Pope Francis has called for consideration of a “universal basic wage” as a means to respond to the economic disruption caused by Covid-19.

“Dear Friends,” Pope Francis writes, “I often recall our previous meetings: two at the Vatican and one in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, and I must tell you that this ‘souvenir’ warms my heart.

“I think of all the beautiful projects that emerged from those conversations and took shape and have become reality.

“In these days of great anxiety and hardship, many have used war-like metaphors to refer to the pandemic we are experiencing. If the struggle against COVID-19 is a war, then you are truly an invisible army, fighting in the most dangerous trenches; an army whose only weapons are solidarity, hope, and community spirit, all revitalizing at a time when no one can save themselves alone.

“As I told you in our meetings, to me you are social poets because, from the forgotten peripheries where you live, you create admirable solutions for the most pressing problems afflicting the marginalized.

“I know that you nearly never receive the recognition that you deserve, because you are truly invisible to the system. Market solutions do not reach the peripheries, and State protection is hardly visible there.

“Nor do you have the resources to substitute for its functioning. You are looked upon with suspicion when through community organization you try to move beyond philanthropy or when, instead of resigning and hoping to catch some crumbs that fall from the table of economic power, you claim your rights.

“You often feel rage and powerlessness at the sight of persistent inequalities and when any excuse at all is sufficient for maintaining those privileges. Nevertheless, you do not resign yourselves to complaining: you roll up your sleeves and keep working.

“I think of all the people, especially women, who multiply loaves of bread in soup kitchens: two onions and a package of rice make up a delicious stew for hundreds of children. I think of the sick, I think of the elderly. They never appear in the news, nor do small farmers and their families who work hard to produce healthy food without destroying nature, without hoarding, without exploiting people’s needs.

“I want you to know that our Heavenly Father watches over you, values you, appreciates you, and supports you in your commitment.

“My hope is that governments understand that technocratic paradigms (whether state-centred or market-driven) are not enough to address this crisis or the other great problems affecting humankind. Now more than ever, persons, communities and peoples must be put at the centre, united to heal, to care and to share.

“I know that you have been excluded from the benefits of globalization. You do not enjoy the superficial pleasures that anesthetize so many consciences, yet you always suffer from the harm they produce. The ills that afflict everyone hit you twice as hard.

“Many of you live from day to day, without any type of legal guarantee to protect you. Street vendors, recyclers, carnies, small farmers, construction workers, dressmakers, the different kinds of caregivers: you who are informal, working on your own or in the grassroots economy, you have no steady income to get you through this hard time … and the lockdowns are becoming unbearable.

“This may be the time to consider a universal basic wage which would acknowledge and dignify the noble, essential tasks you carry out. It would ensure and concretely achieve the ideal, at once so human and so Christian, of no worker without rights.

Moreover, I urge you to reflect on “life after the pandemic,” for while this storm shall pass, its grave consequences are already being felt. You are not helpless. You have the culture, the method, and most of all, the wisdom that are kneaded with the leaven of feeling the suffering of others as your own. I want all of us to think about the project of integral human development that we long for and that is based on the central role and initiative of the people in all their diversity, as well as on universal access to those three Ts that you defend: Trabajo (work), Techo (housing), and Tierra (land and food) .

“I hope that this time of danger will free us from operating on automatic pilot, shake our sleepy consciences and allow a humanist and ecological conversion that puts an end to the idolatry of money and places human life and dignity at the centre.

“Our civilization — so competitive, so individualistic, with its frenetic rhythms of production and consumption, its extravagant luxuries, its disproportionate profits for just a few — needs to downshift, take stock, and renew itself.

You are the indispensable builders of this change that can no longer be put off. Moreover, when you testify that to change is possible, your voice is authoritative. You have known crises and hardships … that you manage to transform — with modesty, dignity, commitment, hard work and solidarity — into a promise of life for your families and your communities,” Pope Francis concluded.

ACI has been considering the possibility of researching some of these issues, particularly evident in poorer countries and in the gig economy within all countries, in conjunction with the Vatican-based Future of Work: Labour After Laudato Si’ project (see website at

Brian Lawrence new ACI Chair

Brian Lawrence

The former Chairman of the Australian Catholic Council for Employment Relations, Brian Lawrence, has accepted a new appointment as Chair of the Australian Cardijn Institute Cooperative Ltd (ACI).

Mr Lawrence has said that he accepted the appointment because the “Australian Cardijn Institute is a strong supporter of the Church’s social ministry and the principles of lay formation adopted by the Second Vatican Council”.  He added “A necessary step in shaping the future of Church in Australia is understanding what the universal Church said five decades ago about the role of lay people within society and within the Church.”

On a personal level, Mr Lawrence recalled that he joined the Young Christian Workers, which was co-founded by Father Joseph Cardijn, in 1960 and was inspired by the then Cardinal Joseph Cardijn during his visit to Melbourne in 1966.  “Cardijn and the Vatican Council shaped my view of Catholicism in the 1960s and I am convinced of the relevance and importance of both in 2020”.

In his recently published paper reviewing the Catholic Social Ministry Conference held at Catholic Theological College, Melbourne, in November 2019, Mr Lawrence argued that the Church needs to rediscover the mission of social engagement and lay formation promulgated by Vatican II.  His paper, which is now on the ACI website, argues that the Church’s social ministry and the development of lay formation are inextricably linked.

Mr Lawrence called on the Australian Catholic Plenary Council to focus more deeply on “the Church’s social mission and the reforms that are needed to promote the lay apostolate and the Church’s social ministry”.

Mr Lawrence has proposed three practical steps to promote the Church’s social ministry and lay formation.  First, he recommended that every deanery in Australia should establish a Catholic Social Ministry Council which would support the Church’s social ministry, provide education in Catholic Social Teaching, develop the resources needed for lay formation and encourage and support parish-based initiatives.

Second, in order for the Church’s social mission, he proposed that a Catholic Conference be established in each State to provide public advocacy in support of the Church’s social mission and provide support and resources for local Catholic Social Ministry Councils.

Third, he proposed that a National Council of the Laity be established to promote  lay formation in accordance with the objectives and principles of the Second Vatican Council.

Mr Lawrence added that an immediate task of the ACI will continue to be agitating for these kinds of reforms within the Church, but that its longer term task is to fulfil its objective when established in 2018: undertaking research and developing training resources for the promotion of the lay apostolate and the Church’s social ministry.

Outgoing ACI Chair, Kevin Vaughan welcomed Mr Lawrence’s appointment. He noted that YCW founder, Joseph Cardijn had long insisted on the need for an adult lay apostolic movement.  “ACI is well placed to contribute to this task,” he said.


Brian Lawrence, Promoting Catholic Social Ministry and the Lay Apostolate: Proposals for the Plenary

Catholic Social Ministry Conference 2019


Mass for Fernand Tonnet and Paul Garcet

Fernand Tonnet

For all people involved in what was called the “Lay Apostolate”   ( we now have many other names , describing people’s response to their Baptismal calling, )  and in particular  for people formed for action by the NCGM / YCW / YCS, two dates in the next few weeks are of historic importance  .

Paul Garcet   January 23 , and Fernand Tonnet, February 2 , co founders of the YCW with Joseph Cardinal  Cardijn  are to be remembered at a special Mass in St Therese’s Church, Kennington, Victoria.

The Mass will be celebrated on Sunday February 2 at 10.30am.

Paul and Fernand were both arrested as indeed was Cardijn  during WW2, for their Christian Action.  Cardijn was eventually released, Paul and Fernand were sent to Dachau, suffered for their witness even in the camp and died  on the above dates.

2O20 is the 75th anniversary of their deaths. Work is underway to consider a proposed beatification process.  You are invited to attend, remember and Celebrate their contribution to the life of our Church.

Mgr Frank Marriott