An evolving missiology: The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary

Sr Heather Weedon FMM has published her 2017 PhD thesis on “The Evolving Missiology of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary” on the Academia website.

In her thesis, Heather notes the similarity between the discernment method followed by founder, Hélène de Chappotin, and the jocist see-judge-act method.

“When discerning any situation, Helene studied the issue, then prayed about it, asking advice from her spiritual director or others whose opinions she valued, before making any final decision,” Heather writes. “This method was continued by her Sisters and followed Cardinal Cardijn’s method.”

Indeed, the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary have had a long relationship with the Cardijn movements with Cardijn himself acknowledging his own indebtedness to an earlier superior general of the order.

Heather notes:

Upon the death of the Superior General of the Sisters, Mother St Michel, in 1931, Cardijn wrote that he “…owed a lot to her for the founding of the JOC.” A number of Sisters who had been members of this movement were inspired to join the Institute through their involvement with the YCW. The YCW method of reflection is widely used today at meetings (eg., General Chapters, discernment programs) by the Sisters.

In Australia and Papua New Guinea, FMM sisters “used the (Cardijn) method of see-judge-act in their schools as a system of gospel study in the Young Christian Students Association.”

Heather also notes that “a number of Sisters who had been members of this movement were inspired to join the Institute through their involvement with the YCW.”

And the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary continue to make use of the Cardijn method in the discernment processes of the congregation:

Taking up the invitation of Pope Francis above, the Sisters have chosen to rethink their structures, beginning with the community life of the Sisters. They are doing this through a series of meetings throughout the world. Provincials from one Province have been coordinators of meetings in a Province other than their own. Thus, they have the opportunity to
hear from Sisters of another culture, nation, and context. In this way, the Sisters are continuing their manner of discernment using the See-Judge-Act of the Young Christian Workers [YCW].


Heather Weedon, Evolving Missiology of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (Yarra Theological Union/University of Divinity/Academia)


Franciscan Missionaries of Mary

Video: A priest for workers in apartheid South Africa

South African Dominican priest, Fr Joe Falkiner op, was our guest for the July 2022 ACI webinar.

He shared his experiences of working with the YCW during the era of the apartheid system in South Africa.

Watch the video above.


Gunther Simmermacher, Book review: A priest looks back (Australian Cardijn Institute)

Webinar: A priest for workers (Australian Cardijn Institute)


A Priest for Workers: Memoirs of Father Joseph Falkiner OP (Cluster Publications)

Plenary Council prioritises lay apostolate formation

The Australian Plenary Council, which concluded last week, has prioritised formation for the apostolate of the laity in its Decree on “Formation and Leadership for Mission and Ministry.”

“Responding to the call for a renewal of formation,” reads §7 of the introduction to Decree 6,, “the Plenary Council endorses principles and strategies that develop models of formation to encourage and strengthen the apostolate of the laity in the world. “

It continues with a strong endorsement of the see-judge-act method for this formation:

This apostolate offers a particular prophetic sign by seeking the common good and by concrete actions that protect and promote human dignity, peace and justice. Attentive to the ‘signs of the times’, movements of the lay apostolate, in their various forms, offer the baptised a way to reflect on the concrete experiences of their lives in the light of the Gospel and engage as missionary disciples in the world.

As a means for formation, the apostolate of the laity is grounded in scriptural reflection, reception of the ecclesial wisdom of our tradition, and prayerful communal discernment. This formation shapes Christian engagement with the broader Australian community through listening and dialogue, and supports actions for the transformation of society through daily commitment and public witness.

“Therefore, to meet the formation needs of the present and future,” §9 adds, “the Plenary Council commits the Church in Australia to developing and committing to a culture of life-long faith formation that will ensure:

a. the diversity of the Catholic community is explicitly recognised;

b. intercultural competency is encouraged, especially in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and spiritualities;

c. the equal dignity of women and men is affirmed and demonstrated;

d. the renewal of faith formation within and for families in the context of the critical role that marriage, parenting, and care-giving plays as a school of formation, is prioritised and strengthened;

e. the apostolate of the laity, along with new ecclesial realities, acting as “leaven in the world,” (Lumen Gentium n. 31) is promoted, encouraged and supported;

f. the hopes, spirituality, giftedness, energy, and modes of communication and connection of young people are identified, incorporated, encouraged and celebrated;

g. ongoing support and strategies for those who minister to young people;

h. the rich variety of spiritual and devotional traditions of the Church are appreciated and celebrated; and

i. synodal practices such as encounter, accompaniment, listening, dialogue, discernment, and collaboration are fostered and deepened.

“By commiting the Australian Church to promoting the apostolate of the laity as a ‘leaven in the world,’ the Plenary has renewed the Vatican II emphasis on lay apostolate formation,” ACI secretary, Stefan Gigacz commented.

“This offers a clear direction to the work of the whole Australian Church,” he added. “It is also a major encouragement to ACI in its own work of promoting the spirituality and methods of Joseph Cardijn, who did so much to bring the lay apostolate to the forefront.”

The decrees of the Plenary Council will now be sent to Rome for ratification. Once this is completed, they will become binding on the Australian Church.


Formation and Leadership for Mission and Ministry (Australian Plenary Council)

2022: Australian Plenary Council: Formation (Australian Cardijn Institute)

Russ Tershy: YCW and Peace Corps pioneer

Russell Joseph Tershy passed away on 29 June 2022, marking a century that began before the Great Depression and continued into the Internet age.

Russell Tershy believed in every person’s potential, and he believed that luck and circumstances, not ability, shaped people’s trajectories. He understood this first-hand. Tershy, born in Enid, Oklahoma, fled the Dust Bowl to California with his family in a Model-T Ford in the 1920s. He, his four siblings and his parents, Lebanese immigrants who opened a successful general store on the High Plains, lost everything and became migrant farm workers. They picked peaches in southern California, and through the generosity of a man who rented them a plot of land and a chicken barn in Robla, California but never collected full rent, the Tershy family emerged from financial ruin. They converted the barn into a home with a wood stove and an outhouse, and Russell helped grow and sell fruits and vegetables door-to-door. They started buying fruit from other farmers and reselling it to stores. By age 15 Russell was driving a truck full of fruit back and forth from Robla to Los Angeles and negotiating sales and purchases. Kindness extended was their luck.

Education was an engine of upward mobility for Tershy, as it was for so many Americans. He attended the one-room Robla Elementary school and New Deal era progressive Grant High School which sparked a lifelong commitment to education. His valedictorian speech was about the role of education in building a prosperous future. He attended Sacramento City College, the first member of his family to attend college. When World War II started, he left college to fight facism with the US Calvary. He was stationed on a cold, remote island off Washington State, but after his basic training IQ test was finally processed, he was sent to Stanford University where he spent two years studying Chinese language and culture, mule packing and survival in preparation to be parachuted with a mule into China to aid the resistance to Japanese occupation.

Much to his surprise, he was shipped off to the Philippines where he was retrained as a radio operator and undertook countless patrol missions searching for Japanese soldiers in areas transitioning from Japanese to US control. Next he was on a ship bound for the invasion of Japan and was then among the first groups of soldiers to land in the country after the Japanese surrender.

When he returned from the war after five years overseas, he visited his parents, sister and baby nephew in Robla. They then drove to San Francisco to visit two of his sisters, while his mother stayed behind with the baby. When he returned a few days later, no one answered the door. He climbed in through a window and found his mother dead, his baby nephew asleep in the cradle.

The family was convinced that his mother would have been alive had they been able to afford good medical care. Russell poured his grief into making money. With his father he rented and ran a residence hotel on Polk St in San Francisco. Within a few years they were making over $US300,000/yr in today’s dollars, and Russell was living the life in San Francisco.

His family was finally financially secure, but he lingered on his mother’s early death, the devastation of war he witnessed in Japan and the Philippines, and his family’s stint as entrapped migrant farmworkers, which they escaped with the help of the man who never asked for the full rent. He turned over the hotel business to his family and joined the Young Christian Workers, making less than $US6,000/yr in today’s dollars as a labor union organizer and poverty fighter.

He considered becoming a Catholic priest, got engaged, called it off and reconsidered priesthood before meeting his wife, Ellie Marie Sheridan, in the Young Christian Workers movement. They married in 1960 when they were both 39. Their son Bernie was born the following year, and Russell was recruited by the newly formed Peace Corps to be the Deputy Director for Bolivia. The new family lived in Bolivia for four years until one of Bolivia’s frequent coups forced the Peace Corps program out.

They returned to the US where Russell, thanks to the GI Bill and Stanford’s generous re-admission policy, resumed his college education after a ~20 year pause. His plan was to return to poverty fighting in Latin America armed with a new degree, but they decided to stay in the US when his 2nd son, Bill, almost died shortly after birth and was saved by the state-of-the-art medical care available at Stanford.

Russ Tershy

With renewed focus on poverty in the US, Russell co-founded the Center for Employment Training, a non-profit job training program. Their first office was a small outbuilding behind Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in San Jose, CA, which he shared with Cesar Chavez and the nascent United Farm Workers movement. The bond and close working relationship between the two organizations continues to this day. The Center for Employment training model was to accept all applicants, have them enter the training pipeline at whatever stage matched their level, and have them remain in the program until they were placed in a permanent job with a working-class, living wage. Independent research proved this to be the most effective job training model in the US. The San Jose Center for Employment training was replicated across the country and directly lifted over 200,000 families out of poverty and into the working and middle class. Its model became standard best practice for job training around the world.

After retiring from the Center for Employment Training, Russell, with his wife Ellie, his son Bill’s family and his nephew Joe Tershay, started the Montessori Community School in Scotts Valley.

Russell passed away at the home he shared with his wife Ellie (99 YO) and his son Bill & family. He was surrounded by family and friends. He was the oldest surviving World War II veteran in Santa Cruz County.

He is survived by his wife Ellie, son Bernie, his wife Erika Zavaleta and children Raven, Finn, Russell & Navia Terhy; and son Bill and his wife Regina Tershy their children and grandchild.

Rosary Friday 15 July, 7pm, son Bill’s home- call 831.246.3463 for address & directions

Funeral Mass 16 July, open casket 930-1030am, mass 1030am, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 435 Monterey Ave, Capitola, CA 95010

Followed by memorial celebration Bill’s home- call 831.246.3463 for address & directions

Burial 18 July, 11am, Central Coast Vets Cemetery, 2900 Parker Flats Cut Off Rd, Seaside, CA 93955


Russell Joseph Tershy (1921-2022) (Legacy)

50th Anniversary (Center for Employment Training)

Forum: Lumen Gentium 31 and the lay apostolate

The Australian Plenary Council has published its Framework for Motions to be discussed at its Second Assembly which will meet in Sydney from 4-9 July 2022.

Once again, ACI’s concern was the lack of emphasis on the lay vocation or apostolate of lay people. See also Fr Bruce Duncan’s critique of the Framework, which expresses similar concerns.

Meanwhile, Cardinal-elect Robert McElroy has highlighted the potential of the see-judge-act method for the development of a truly synodal Church.

Our latest submission therefore proposes amendments to §79-80, which fall under “Part 6. Formation and Leadership for Mission and Ministry.” 

In particular, the ACI submission called for the insertion of a paragraph highlighting that formation needs to focus on promoting the “specifically lay apostolate of lay people acting as a leaven within the world.”

This is based on §31 of the Vatican II document, Lumen Gentium (LG31), which states:

What specifically characterizes the laity is their secular nature. It is true that those in holy orders can at times be engaged in secular activities, and even have a secular profession. But they are by reason of their particular vocation especially and professedly ordained to the sacred ministry. Similarly, by their state in life, religious give splendid and striking testimony that the world cannot be transformed and offered to God without the spirit of the beatitudes. But the laity, by their very vocation, seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God. They live in the world, that is, in each and in all of the secular professions and occupations. They live in the ordinary circumstances of family and social life, from which the very web of their existence is woven. They are called there by God that by exercising their proper function and led by the spirit of the Gospel they may work for the sanctification of the world from within as a leaven. In this way they may make Christ known to others, especially by the testimony of a life resplendent in faith, hope and charity. Therefore, since they are tightly bound up in all types of temporal affairs it is their special task to order and to throw light upon these affairs in such a way that they may come into being and then continually increase according to Christ to the praise of the Creator and the Redeemer.

Our second proposed amendment is to §80 and reads as follows:

To achieve this, the Church in Australia and in each diocese commits to develop and accompany lay apostolate formation movements, including classical movements such as the YCW and YCS as well as new initiatives responding to 21st century social realities and needs. Following the see-judge-act method of formation based on small review of life groups meeting regularly, these movements enable Christians to reflect on the concrete experiences of their lives as workers, family members and citizens in the light of the Gospel and to take personal and collective action to transform their lives and communities working for the sanctification of the world from within as a leaven (Lumen Gentium §31). Priests, religious and lay ministers will play a vital special role in accompaniment in promoting this formation.

Lumen Gentium 31 Forum

Our 2021 Submission to the Plenary also called for the establishment of an Australian Catholic Council for the Lay Apostolate to promote the Vatican II vision of lay apostolate.

To date, we have no indication that this proposal will be adopted by the Plenary.

ACI will therefore hold an open forum to discuss further action to implement this proposal.

We invite all members and friends of ACI to join us for this event.

Please also see the link below for a compilation of resources on Catholic Social Teaching concerning the lay apostolate.


ACI Open Forum Lumen Gentium 31 and the Lay Apostolate

Saturday 2 July, 2.00pm AEST



Lawrence OP / Flickr / CC BY ND NC 2.0


Fr Bruce Duncan CsSR, Plenary Council fails to embrace Pope Francis’s wider social vision (Eureka Street)

Cardinal-elect Robert McElroy, Pope Francis and Vatican II give us a road map for the synodal process (America Magazine)

A Chicago Declaration of Christian Concern 1977 (Australian Cardijn Institute)

ACI Submission to the Plenary 2019 on Lay Apostolate

ACI Submission to the Plenary 2021 on an Australian Catholic Council for the Lay Apostolate

ACI Proposed Amendments to the Plenary Framework for Motions 2022

Resources on Lay Apostolate (Australian Cardijn Institute)

Plenary misses Francis’ wider vision

Some 278 Catholic bishops, clergy, religious personnel and lay people will meet as members of an unprecedented Plenary Council during 4-9 July to finalise the resolutions of their first assembly last year. However the May working document ‘Framework for Motions’, despite much worthy content, especially on Indigenous affairs, relies on a narrow notion of mission overly focused on inner-church issues at the expense of the wider social engagement that Francis emphasises, writes Fr Bruce Duncan CSsR in Eureka Street.

(It is) puzzling how the Framework for Motions overlooks the specifically secular mission of lay women and men in their daily work, occupations, communities and families. Merely a single paragraph calls for deepening the ‘lay apostolate in the world based on attentiveness to the “signs of the times”, scriptural reflection, prayerful communal discernment and a commitment to engagement with the broader Australian community through listening and dialogue’ (#80). But it does not explain why this secular involvement is so crucially significant, especially for Pope Francis.

‘Francis has explicitly recast this see-judge-act method into the process of synodality and discernment, calling the whole Church to learn this way of listening carefully to others, especially the excluded or marginalised.’

Let me explain. The paragraph refers to the famous see-judge-act process developed by a Belgian priest, Canon Joseph Cardijn, nearly a century ago for use by young working women and men in factories and workplaces. Cardijn formed groups to discuss their life and work issues (‘see’), to reflect together using a Gospel passage for spiritual guidance (‘judge’) and then to take action to change situations (‘act’).

It was a circular process of empowerment for people to take charge of their lives and challenge unjust practices. It became known as the Young Christian Workers Movement and spread internationally, even to Australia, especially in Melbourne and Adelaide. Based on people’s personal experiences, it linked faith cogently with their real life issues, giving them strength and courage to make often difficult decisions but acting always on their own responsibility. This method often empowered people for the rest of their lives and careers.

Francis has explicitly recast this see-judge-act method into the process of synodality and discernment, calling the whole Church to learn this way of listening carefully to others, especially the excluded or marginalised.

Francis urges a ‘cultural revolution’ in the church, to undertake ‘the slow work of changing structures, through participation in public dialogue, where decisions are made that affect the lives of the most vulnerable.’ He said that the social apostolate is to empower people ‘“to promote processes [italics added] and to encourage hope”, to help communities grow, to be aware of their rights, to apply their talents, and create their own futures’. He dreams of a ‘Church that does not stand aloof from life, but immerses herself in today’s problems and needs, bandaging wounds and healing broken hearts with the balm of God.’

His notion of mission is thus not confined to inner-church matters. At the opening of the 2021-1923 Synod on Synodality on 9 October 2021, he said that the Vatican Council understood mission as including ‘apostolic commitment to the world of today’, but warned that this was opposed to ‘proselytism’. In an address to Catechists on 27 September 2013, he insisted: ‘What attracts is our witness… Words come…. But witness comes first: people should see the Gospel, read the Gospel, in our lives.’


Bruce Duncan, Plenary Council fails to embrace Pope Francis’s wider social vision (Eureka Street)

Video: Yves Congar’s Theology of the Laity

French theologian, Fr Eric Mahieu, was our guest for the June ACI webinar focusing on the theology of the great French Dominican priest, Yves Congar, a major 20th century theologian and a key actor at the Second Vatican Council.

Watch the video now.

Yves Congar

Born in Sedan, France, in 1904, French Dominican Yves Congar was a leading 20th century theologian, who exercised a major influence on the Second Vatican Council.

A strong advocate of ecumenism, he also played a significant role in the development of a theology of the laity. His work “Lay People in the Church,” first published in French in 1953, was one of the first major theological treatises on the role of the laity.

From his days as a young priest stationed at the Dominican convent, Le Saulchoir, then located in Belgium, he led retreats for the young leaders of the emerging Young Christian Workers movement. Subsequently, he worked closely with the French Workers Catholic Action movement.

Later he would describe the YCW as “a prophetic initiative from the periphery” consecrated by a pope, Pius XI, “equally moved by a prophetic spirit.” The outcome was “a magnificent creation, an opening full of developmental promise: a prophetic work born of a twin prophetic movement linking the periphery and the centre,” Congar wrote.

In 1965, he encouraged Cardijn, who had recently been made a cardinal by Pope Paul VI, to make the most of his role as a Council Father at the Fourth Session of Vatican II, assisting Cardijn with the drafting of his speeches.

During the Council, he kept a day by day journal, recording the events, conversations and discussions in which he was involved. This was published after his death in 2000 under the title “Mon journal du Concile” and in English in 2012 as “My Journal of the Council.”

Recognising his lifetime of theological achievement, Pope John Paul II made him a cardinal in 1994, just months before his death at the age of 91 in 1995.


Fr Eric Mahieu

Eric Mahieu is a priest of the Diocese of Lille in France, who has taught theology at the Catholic Institute of Paris for 15 years. A renowned scholar of Congar’s work, he edited Congar’s Vatican II notes for publication.

Currently, he is a university chaplain as well as parish priest at Our Lady of the Pentecost in Lille.


Yves Congar (Encyclopaedia Britannica)

Yves Congar, My Journal of the Council (ATF Press)

Webinar: A priest for workers

Former South African YCW chaplain, Fr Joe Falkiner op, will be our speaker for our next ACI Webinar entitled “A Priest for Workers” on Tuesday 12 July 2022 at 7pm AEST.

Last year, Fr Joe published his memoirs in a book of the same name in which he recalled his many years of work as chaplain of the South African YCW movement under the apartheid regime during the 1970s and 180s.


South African Dominican priest, Fr Joe Falkiner op, was born in the town of Springs in 1934. After completing high school with the Christian Brothers, he studied geology at university.

After this, he began work with the Anglo-American Corporation mining conglomerate, which sent him to Tanganyika (now Tanzania). Through this work, he saw the terrible way in which black workers were treated by their employer, eventually leading to his resignation and search for his vocation.

In 1962, he applied to enter the Dominican Order, joining their community at Stellenbosch in 1963, leading to his ordination in 1969.

Soon after joining the Dominicans, he came into contact with local teams of the South African YCW. As a priest in a parish from 1970, he began a greater involvement with the movement, setting him on the path to eventually becoming national chaplain.

Fr Joe’s memoirs tell the story of this sometimes dangerous work, under the surveillance of the security police, at the height of the apartheid regime.


Gunther Simmermacher, Book review: A priest looks back (Australian Cardijn Institute)


A Priest for Workers: Memoirs of Father Joseph Falkiner OP (Cluster Publications)


Title: A Priest for Workers: Fr Joe Falkiner op on working with the YCW in South Africa under apartheid

Date: Tuesday 12 July 2022, 7pm AEST/11am South African time


Online synodality course aims for 100,000 participants

Catholic institutions from several continents have joined together to launch a free online course in synodality that will be open to bishops, priests, religious and lay people around the world.

The project is coordinated by members of the Theological Commission of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops in collaboration with the Formación Continua of the Jesuit School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College.

In a media release outlining the course, the organisers say:

“The Synod on Synodality was inaugurated in October 2021 by Pope Francis and will culminate with the celebration of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October 2023,” the course organisers say in a media release.

“This event represents a new stage in ecclesial life that invites us to generate processes of conversion and reform in order to build a Synodal Church for this third millennium.

“The present intercontinental and intercultural project proposes to accompany formation of more than 100.000 people in the theology and practice of synodality through a series of free online courses to support all the people of God —bishops, priests, religious men and women, lay men and women— who have been called to this process of ecclesial renewal.

“All the courses are completely free of charge and will be offered online in several languages —Spanish, English, Portuguese, French and Italian. In addition, speakers from all continents will participate in the courses, which will allow us to have a global and intercultural vision of the Church.

“The first course will be held in July 2022. Over a period of three weeks, different topics on Common discernment and Decision making in the Church will be offered. We invite you to register and get involved in the challenge of imagining and building the Church of the third millennium.

Organisers of the program are Dr Rafael Luciani (Venezuela), Dr Carlos María Galli (Argentina), Dr Agenor Brighenti (Brazil) (Latin American Members of the Theological Commission of the General Secretariat of the Synod) and Dr Félix Palazzi (Director of “Formación Continua,” Boston College School of Theology and Ministry).

It is sponsored by the Latin American and Caribbean Episcopal Council (CELAM), the Council of Bishops Conferences of Europe (CCEE), the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences (FABC), International Union Superiors General (UISG), the Union of Superiors General (USG), the Latin-American Confederation of Religious (CLAR), the Union of European Conferences of Major Superiors (UCESM), and the Conference of Jesuit Provincials in Latin America and the Caribbean (CPAL).

Lecturers will include Prof. Luciani, Sr Nathalie Becquart and Bishop Shane MacKinlay of Sandhurst, all of whom spoke at ACI webinars on synodality in 2021.


Common Discernment and Decision Making in the Church, Free Online Course (Massive Open Online Course) (Synod Resources)



See, judge and act in today’s world

To mark the 25th anniversary of his death, a memorial Mass for Fr Hugh O’Sullivan was celebrated at The Monastery on May 29. FR DEAN MARIN reflects on Fr Hugh’s work with the YCW, and the importance of the movement and the ministry of its founder, Cardinal Joseph Cardijn.

Even before his ordination as a priest for the Archdiocese of Adelaide in 1964, Fr Hugh O’Sullivan, or Hughie as he was affectionately known to many throughout Adelaide and Australia, had come to know of Fr Joseph Cardijn the founder of the Young Christian Workers (YCW) movement.

In all his parishes – Hectorville, Brighton, Mount Gambier, Salisbury, Para Hills and finally Hallett Cove – Fr Hugh formed small groups of young workers in the YCW, steeped in the formation method of ‘See, Judge and Act’. He became Adelaide chaplain to the YCW, then national chaplain and eventually chaplain to the Asia-Pacific Region.

Fr Hugh was committed to the faith and the Church and with a passion for young workers and empowering them to be agents of change in the world. His down-to-earth acceptance of everyone he encountered will be remembered by so many in the Archdiocese.

Fr Hugh died on May 18 1997 and we are inspired by this great priest as we remember him.

It is also important to reflect upon the ministry of Fr Joseph Cardijn, who in 1967 was made a Cardinal by Pope Paul VI, and in particular his influence on the Second Vatican Council.

In an article by Stefan Gigacz, secretary of the Australian Cardijn Institute, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Cardijn’s death, he writes how Pope John XXIII’s 1961 encyclical, Mater et Magistra, recommended the use of the See, Judge and Act method that has since become a hallmark of Church documents on Catholic Social Teaching.

‘Cardijn drafted more than 25 formal detailed notes for the preparatory and conciliar commissions advocating his vision of the specifically lay apostolate of lay people, transforming their lives, their milieux and eventually the world,’ Gigacz wrote.

‘Much of his vision of lay apostolate was indeed finally incorporated both in the chapter on the laity in Vatican II doctrinal constitution: Lumen Gentium and in the Decree on the Lay Apostolate…Jocists bishops and periti played a particular prominent role in the drafting of Gaudium et Spes (Constitution of the Church in the Modern World).’

The Constitution of the Church in the Modern World begins: ‘The joy and the hope, the grief and the anguish of the men of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted in any way, are the joy and the hope, the grief and the anguish of the followers of Christ as well.’

We start totally grounded in the reality and experiences of people’s lives in the here and now in society and in the world. Isn’t this equivalent to the ‘See’ section? Further on it says: ‘At all times the Church carries the responsibility of reading the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel.’ Here’s the call again to appreciate the reality of the features of any given time, the ‘See’ section.

However, we don’t just stay there, we move on from here to interpreting them ‘in the light of the Gospel’. Isn’t this equivalent to the ‘Judge’ section? We consciously bring to bear the vision of the Gospel of Jesus, for us as Catholics coming from the Scriptures and our tradition, to discern the call of God and prepare us for action.

There’s another way at looking at Cardijn’s vision to learn so much for us as Church today. In his pamphlet ‘The Young Worker Faces Life’ he spoke of three truths as another way of understanding the See, Judge and Act method. The truth of experience, the truth of faith and the truth of method.

In the Archdiocese of Adelaide, we can’t overestimate the influence of Cardijn’s vision on our church life and the many lay leaders formed through it. Both Archbishop Gleeson and then Archbishop Faulkner promoted the Cardijn movements of the Young Christian Workers, Young Christian Students, and the Christian Life Movement. Back in the ‘80s the Diocesan Pastoral Renewal was underpinned by Cardijn’s vision. Later the vision of Basic Ecclesial Communities used the See, Judge and Act method in small neighbourhood groups, just naming it differently as ‘our story’, ‘God’s story’ and ‘the ongoing story’.

We need Cardijn’s vision and his See, Judge and Act method in the Church today. Firstly, it helps us to truly understand Vatican II and its pastoral and transformational focus for the world, as well as the role of each person in this mission.

Secondly, rightly understood and practised it will bring a unity of common purpose for all passionate about the faith and its place in the world.

There are tensions in our Church life today in Australia. The processes of consultation, listening, dialogue and discerning in preparation for the Plenary Council, our own Diocesan Assembly and now for the worldwide Synod in 2023 have highlighted differences amongst us in responses to the challenges facing the Church. How can we be united in facing these challenges? Use the See, Judge and Act process.

We need to begin with the real situations of people’s lives today. We need to listen, dialogue and grow in understanding of others. We accept and value human experience. We don’t start from what people should be doing or how they should be living. We can’t start from the way things were in the past and just turn the clock backwards. We value and accept the ‘see’ and ‘the truth of experience’.

But we don’t just stay there. This is where we start, not where we finish. And we don’t just automatically expect that the Church should change to mirror current ways of life.

Vatican II can be easily misinterpreted in this way. We need the ‘judge’ and ‘the truth of faith’, the Gospels, the whole of the Word of God and the living tradition of our Catholic faith with which to discern and judge the current realities. This tradition will always highlight the deep personal relationship with Jesus Christ and our unity as his Body on earth and our need for prayer and worship, the Eucharist and the Sacraments.

In our haste for solutions, in our need for immediate action, in our desire to be in touch with the times, we can downplay the ‘judge’ section and move on with our own ideas for action. We need to resist this temptation. And we all need formation and growth in understanding the Scriptures and our Catholic Teachings.

St Pope John XXIII’s opening remarks for the Second Vatican Council, taken from Vatican II in Plain English: The Council by Bill Huebsch, include: ‘The greatest concern of this council is this, that the sacred and central truths of our Christian faith should be guarded and taught more effectively…we will not depart from the truth as it is passed on to us by the early Fathers and Mothers of the Church. But we will also be attentive to these times, to the new conditions and new forms of life present in the modern world which have opened new arenas of work for Catholics.’

Then there’s ‘act’ which completes ‘the truth of method’. The Word of God affirms us of God’s acceptance, compassion and love, but also challenges us to change. We are challenged to act to bring about change within ourselves, family, community, society and world. Indeed, we act as part of God’s plan in Christ for the renewal of all creation. Cardijn always encouraged young workers not to act alone but with others, and so we act together united with the one common vision.

With the tensions in the Church today we have a recognised and acknowledged approach and pathway around which to be united and move forward together.

This pathway begins with and respects the real-life experiences of the people of our times; it relies upon and remains faithful to Scriptures and the teachings of our Catholic faith and moves forward with action, building God’s Kingdom on earth until it is fulfilled in heaven.

Used within movements and groups in the Church initially, it now needs to be used in all aspects of our Church life and my advice would be: come to know the Scriptures and the teachings of our faith and never overlook the judge section.

Fr Dean Marin is Vicar General and Director of Vocations of the Archdiocese

Synodality and Cardijn’s ‘electrifying’ see-judge-act

Cardijn’s “electrifying” see-judge-act method lies at the heart of the synodality process, writes newly appointed Cardinal Robert McElroy of San Diego.

Can synodality become a deeper element of Catholic life in the United States? Our current process may prove this to be so. One of the central sentiments expressed in our diocesan synodal consultations has been that the people of God have at times not been meaningfully heard and responded to in the institutional life of the church, and they fear that the synodal process might be another in a series of moments when hopes are raised only to be frustrated. But the current synod process offers a glimpse of a church yet to come. Hundreds of thousands of Catholics have engaged with the church on their joys, their sorrows and their hopes for what the church can be today and tomorrow.

Across the United States, dioceses, parishes and religious communities have undertaken intensive processes of consultation and dialogue in order to help prepare for the global synod on synodality that will take place in Rome in October 2023. Soon, each local church will forward to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops a formal report on their consultation, which will contribute to the work of the global church.

Fortunately, the theology and practice of synodality that have already emerged from the Second Vatican Council and the writings and actions of Pope Francis provide an architecture for us to continue substantive synodal formation during the next two years. This architecture consists of three elements: the see-judge-act methodology that lies at the heart of the synodal process, the characteristics of a synodal church that Pope Francis has articulated, and the overwhelming imperative for constant and effective evangelization that has been a hallmark of the pontificates of St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict and Pope Francis.

In the years following the First World War, Joseph Cardijn became a worker priest in Brussels, seeking to organize working men and women in pursuit of justice. While doing so, he came to understand that true work on behalf of justice and solidarity required a process of genuinely coming to know the real world situations that workers confronted, of judging these realities in the light of the Gospel and then of choosing to act concretely to transform the world they faced. “See-judge-act,” the dynamic of engagement that Cardijn brought to the world, became an electrifying construct for confronting injustice—revealing its contradictions to Catholic faith and generating bold and sustained action.

St John XXIII brought this penetrating insight and framework to the world in his encyclical “Mater et Magistra.” The church of Latin America adopted this framework as a primary method of engaging with the realities of human life and the renewal of the church. And the encuentro process that deeply enriched the church in the United States during the last decade placed “see-judge-act” at its very center. An understanding of the three steps of this basic framework in the context of our current synodal moment in the United States is helpful in appreciating its potential for advancing synodal formation during the next two years.


Bishop McElroy: Pope Francis and Vatican II give us a road map for the synodal process (America Magazine)

Pat Walsh recalls his YCS formation

A long-standing human rights worker and Timor Leste solidarity campaigner, Pat Walsh was national chaplain to the Australian YCS for five years, 1973-1978.

Some forty years on, he has written up his experiences looking at the impact on the secondary school YCS of this exciting but turbulent period of historic change and reflects on the experience and its potential lessons for today’s church.

Pat writes:

The movement known as the Young Christian Students (YCS) has morphed several times during its 80 or so year history in Australia. Once highly favoured by popes, principals and parish priests, YCS’s footprint today is far smaller than it used to be. Given, however, that the principles it represents both informed and were endorsed by the Second Vatican Council and remain highly relevant, this is a paradox.

Whether or not clues to this change of fortune can be found in the following account, it is to be hoped that Australia’s upcoming synod process will recognise what a unique vehicle the YCS can be to foster young laity and their contribution to the church and the world.

Looking to the future, he notes that “the Jocist review of life is not just a training tool or a practice confined to the YCS and YCW”:

It is grounded in, and an extension of, a common, almost unconcious, human habit that we use a thousand times a day. What Cardijn did was to formalise and baptise this see-judge-act reflex. Its practice is an enriching life skill. Many former YCS colleagues testify that it has served them well in adult professional life, enhancing their sense of responsibility for others and the world and engagement in many local and international contexts.

He concludes:

The fate of the YCS is no different to that of many other church entities across the Christian spectrum, particularly in Australia and the West. In that sense, understanding its current situation in Australia requires a broader study than the above sketch. On the other hand, in other settings the YCS remains a global Catholic youth movement. It continues to function in over 100 countries, particularly the South, and takes its lead on issues like climate change, refugees, conflict resolution, inequality, human rights, inter-religious dialogue and criticism of capitalism and consumerism from Pope Francis, himself from the
global South.


Pat Walsh, YCS in the 1970s: Young Laity in Search of Vocation (

An Australian Christian Worker movement?

Former ACI president, Kevin Vaughan, has long called for an adult lay apostolate movement in Australia.

He is now inviting people interested in forming an Australian Christian Worker Movement to contact him in view of launching such an initiative.

He proposes that those interested should initially meet online in order to best work out how to develop the movement.

Kevin has been particularly concerned by recent news stories relating to the exploitation of seasonal workers from the Pacific Islands.

An Australian Christian Workers Movement previously existed mainly in Adelaide during the 1980s.


Abused RSE workers in Australia too afraid to speak out (Radio New Zealand)

Catholic Labor Network USA

Movement of Christian Workers UK

World Movement of Christian Workers

Charles de Foucauld canonised

On 15 May 2022, Pope Francis canonised French mystic, Charles de Foucauld, a former soldier who lived in the North African desert for many years devoting his life to the Indigenous Taureg peoples.

Today, Charles de Foucauld is regarded as a pioneer of interreligious dialogue, witnessing to his faith through his quiet example, without words, living it out through deep prayer and friendship and service to the people he came to know.

Pope Francis also referred to the example of Charles de Foucauld in his 2020 encyclical, Fratelli Tutti:

Yet I would like to conclude by mentioning another person of deep faith who, drawing upon his intense experience of God, made a journey of transformation towards feeling a brother to all. I am speaking of Blessed Charles de Foucauld. Blessed Charles directed his ideal of total surrender to God towards an identification with the poor, abandoned in the depths of the African desert. In that setting, he expressed his desire to feel himself a brother to every human being, and asked a friend to “pray to God that I truly be the brother of all”. He wanted to be, in the end, “the universal brother”. Yet only by identifying with the least did he come at last to be the brother of all. May God inspire that dream in each one of us. Amen. (Fratelli tutti, 286-287)

Charles de Foucauld was a major source of inspiration for many early Jocist chaplains and leaders, including French priest, René Voillaume, founder of the Little Brothers of Jesus and the Little Brothers of the Gospel.

In Belgium, the Little Sisters of Nazareth based their own charism on that of both Charles de Foucauld and Joseph Cardijn.


De Foucauld: Total surrender to God and universal fraternity (Vatican News)

Biography of Charles de Foucauld (Spiritual Family Charles de Foucauld)

René Voillaume (Wikipedia)

Little Sisters of Nazareth (The Deipara Initiative)

A lay movement that transformed France

Canadian educator, Linda Arbour, has published Le Sillon, A Catholic lay movement that transformed France.

It is the first book in English that tells the story of Marc Sangnier’s pioneering democratic movement, which operated from 1894 until 1910 when Pope Pius X called on its lay leaders to resign and hand the movement over to the French bishops. In a remarkable act, that is precisely what Sangnier and his colleagues did.

Over the short course of its existence, Le Sillon, which began as a group of students at Stanislas College, Paris, did indeed transform the French landscape with its nationwide network of “study circles.”

Its “method of democratic education” founded on the sociological methods of Frédéric Le Play and the philosophy of Léon Ollé-Laprune in fact foreshadowed the see-judge-act of the Young Christian Workers (YCW-JOC) and the other Specialised Catholic Action movements.

Arbour compares the Sillon’s influence in France to that of Pierre Trudeau in Canada during the 1960s. Significantly, Trudeau was himself a product of the French YCS (JEC).

Australian educator and ACI board member, Pat Branson, describes the book as a “revelation” that offers “insights into the development of Rerum Novarum” that need to be shared with religious education teachers today.


Linda Arbour, Le Sillon, A Catholic lay movement that transformed France (iUniverse)


Le Sillon

Stefan Gigacz, Lamennais, Le Sillon and the JOC (The Leaven in the Council)

See-judge-act bishop now a cardinal

Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego as one of 21 new cardinals. Bishop McElroy, who visited Australia in June 2017, has made a name for himself for a pastoral approach very close to that of Pope Francis.

In February 2017 address to the US Regional Meeting of Popular Movements he offered a powerful endorsement of Cardijn’s see-judge-act method.

“For the past century, from the worker movements of Catholic action in France, Belgium and Italy to Pope John XXXIII’s call to re-structure the economies of the world in ‘Mater et Magistra,’ to the piercing missionary message of the Latin American Church,” Cardinal-elect McElroy said, “the words ‘see,’ ‘judge’ and ‘act’ have provided a powerful pathway for those who seek to renew the temporal order, in the light of the Gospel and justice.”

He continued:

As the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace described this pathway, it lies in “seeing clearly the situation, judging with principles that foster the integral development of people and acting in a way which implements these principles in the light of everyone’s unique situation.”

There is no greater charter for this gathering taking place here in Modesto in these days than the simple but rich architecture of these three words: “see,” “judge” and “act.” Yet these words — which carry with them such a powerful history of social transformation around the world in service to the dignity of the human person — must be renewed and re-examined at every age and seen against the background of those social, economic and political forces in each historical moment.

In the United States we stand at a pivotal moment as a people and a nation, in which bitter divisions cleave our country and pollute our national dialogue.

In our reflections in these days, here, we must identify the ways in which our very ability to see, judge and act on behalf of justice is being endangered by cultural currents which leave us isolated, embittered and angry. We must make the issues of jobs, housing, immigration, economic disparities and the environment, foundations for common efforts rather than of division. We must see prophetic words and prophetic actions which produce unity and cohesion and we must do so in the spirit of hope which is realistic. For as Pope Francis stated to the meeting in Bolivia: “You are sowers of change,” and sowers never lose hope.

San Diego Diocese has a long history it the jocist movements. For many years, it hosted a Cardijn Centre founded by YCW and YCS chaplain, Fr Leo Davis. It was also the home diocese for Fr Victor Salandini, who became known as the “tortilla priest” for his work with Latino farm workers.


Bishop W. Robert McElroy (Wikipedia)

Bishop McElroy: Pope Francis and Vatican II give us a road map for the synodal process (America Magazine)

Transcript of speech by San Diego Catholic Bishop Robert McElroy to community organizers (San Diego Tribune)

Pope Francis names Bishop McElroy a Cardinal (San Diego Diocese)

Pope announces 21 new Cardinals from around the world (Vatican News)

Leo Davis (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Victor Salandini (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Webinar: Conflict in Karen State

ACI and Young People for Development (YPD) Australia are partnering to present our April webinar entitled “Conflict in Karen State” with Zoya Phan, Chris Sidoti and Kwi Kwith on Tuesday 17 May at 7.00pm AEST.

With the world’s attention focused on the tragic events unfolding in Ukraine, little media attention has been paid to the situation of the Karen ethnic community in Myanmar, particularly since the February 2021 military coup.

The military seized control on 1 February 2021 after a general election which Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party won by a landslide.

Since then, the Myanmar military have intensified military operations in regions of Karen State controlled by the Karen National Union (KNU) causing more than 150,000 people to flee their homes.

These people are in urgent need of food and other aid, a rights group has said, as fighting that has raged in the area for months becomes even more intense. 

“You could say this is an emergency situation for the IDPs,” Naw Htoo Htoo, spokesperson for the Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG) told Myanmar News last week, using a term that stands for internally displaced people. 

Our webinar will address the present situation and the challenge of building peace with justice in the South East Asian nation.


Zoya Phan

Zoya Phan

Our keynote speaker will be Zoya Phan, author of “Little Daughter: A Memoir of Survival in Burma and the West,” which tells the story of her teen years fleeing the military as a displaced person in the Burmese jungle and later as a refugee on the Thai-Myanmar border.

Zoya currently works for the Burma Campaign UK. In this role, she has become one of Europe’s leading democracy activists for Burma. She also helped create the European Karen Network.

Following the assassination of her father, Padoh Mahn Sha Young, in 2008, she and other family members set up the Phan Foundation charity.

Chris Sidoti

Chris Sidoti

A former national secretary of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, Chris Sidoti is an Australian expert on international human rights law, a lawyer and advocate.

He has served as Australian Human Rights Commissioner (1995-2000), Australian Law Reform Commissioner (1992-1995) and Foundation Director of the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (1987-1992). From 2003-07, he was director of the International Service for Human Rights, based in Geneva, Switzerland,

More recently, he was a commissioner on the UN Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar 2017-19 and is currently a member of the Special Advisory Council for Myanmar. Chris is also an adjunct professor at the Australian Catholic University.

Kwi Kwith

Kwi Kwith

Kwi Kwith is the founder and coordinator of the Young People for Development (YPD) network in Thailand and Myanmar.

He has many years experience working with development NGOs and in relief work in Myanmar-Thailand border area.

He is currently working on relief programs for displaced Karen people inside Myanmar.


Date and Times: Tuesday 17 May 2022, 7pm Sydney, 5pm BKK and 10am UK.



Myanmar: What has happened since the 2021 coup? (BBC)

Over 20,000 people displaced in southeast Myanmar suffering food shortage ‘emergency’ (Myanmar Now)

Burma Campaign UK

Zoya Phan (Wikipedia)

Undaunted: An Interview with Zoya Phan (Open Society Foundation)

Chris Sidoti (Wikipedia)

Chris Sidoti (Australian Catholic University)

Young People for Development Karenland

Young People for Development Australia

Speakers: Zoya Phan, Chris Sidoti and Kwi Kwith, Tuesday 17 May 2022.

RIP John Maguire, chaplain to the Vatican II lay auditors

Former Brisbane priest and YCW chaplain, John Maguire, who became ecclesiastical assistant to the lay auditors at the Second Vatican Council died on 28 April at the age of 91.

John was a close friend of Pat Keegan, a founding leader of the English YCW and the first lay auditor to address the Council. It was at Keegan’s request that Paul VI appointed him as ecclesiastical assistant to the lay auditors.

He was present for several critical moments of the Council, including the dramatic Black Week at the end of the Third Session in November 1964.

He was also with Cardijn for his episcopal ordination in February 1965. He and Keegan were also with Cardijn, who wept with anguish, on the day he received his red cardinal’s hat.

At the Council and afterwards, he also became close friends with Charles Moeller, the Belgian literary scholar and theologian, who played a significant role as peritus at Vatican II.

Upon his return to Australia, John left the priesthood – at least in the traditional sense – and initially became a labourer at the Doomben racetrack.

Later he became a lecturer in history at James Cook University in Townsville. While there, he wrote a highly regarded history of the diocese entitled “Prologue.”

In 1992, he wrote a deeply personal memoir, entitled “Blessed are the Cheesemakers” taken from the Monty Python film “The The Life of Brian,” recalling his experience as a student of Thomistic philosophy in Rome, as well as his struggle to “grapple with” and to be accepted for his homosexuality.

In 1999, John wrote another book “What is conscience? A cautionary tale,” originally intended as Volume 1 of a trilogy on “Conscience and the Moral Law.”

In the preface, he quoted a 1969 talk by Moeller to Brisbane priests:

We stand at a time in history where we need to ask all the old questions – as if we have never had an answer before: what does it mean to be human? what does it mean to be saved? who is this person, Jesus of Nazareth? is there really any need for the Church?”

And Moeller continued:

As we move into the discovery of our own answers, we will need then to call on memory, on history, to reflect on the answers previous generations have given to these same questions. I believe eventually we shall be surprised how close what we will be saying will be to what others have said before us – but, at the same time, we will be seeing it all differently. With fresh insights, we will express everything with new emphases, nuances. More importantly, our answers will be alive within us, not merely parroted answers we have received from others.

As John recalls, “Moeller’s words touched a deep chord within me”:

By that time my own journey had already made me strongly aware that, just as every child has to learn to walk from inside itself, listening to the call of its own body, its own spirit, discovering its own freedom, accepting its own limitations, so too, each of us has to find the truth, the freedom of life, of love, of God, for ourselves – from within ourselves. Truth and freedom can never be separated. Truth can only be discovered in freedom; freedom can only be preserved in truth – the truth which is the God “Who Is”.

RIP John

Stefan Gigacz


John Maguire, Blessed are the Cheesemakers

John Maguire, What is conscience? A cautionary tale.

Charles Moeller (Wikipedia – French)

Jocist Women Leaders Seminar – Call for Papers

The Jocist Women Leaders Project team is organising an international seminar on the theme “Making Daily Life Vast and Beautiful” at Leuven, Belgium on 27-28 October this year.

It will be a hybrid workshop co-sponsored by the American Academy of Religion, University of Divinity, Melbourne, King’s College, London; KADOC – KU, Leuven and the Australian Cardijn Institute, Perth.

As part of a wider project, this international workshop will explore whether and how Joseph Cardijn’s theological method, (“See-Judge-Act”) including its emphasis on the truth of experience, enabled significant contributions by women. With a focus on the leaders and members of specialised Catholic Action and other movements inspired by the spirituality and methods of the Jeunesse Ouvrière Chrétienne (JOC), or in English YCW, we are asking:

  • Whether and how the Jocist emphasis on quotidian and apparently mundane experience shapes religious engagement for social change among Jocist women? 
  • What enables and what constrains contributions to leadership by women in Jocist  movements in diverse global contexts? 
  • Whether and how the Jocist theological method broadens and subverts traditional gender  assumptions?

We invite proposals of 200 words for

  • Individual papers of 15-20 minutes
  • Research reports of 10 minutes

Please include a short biographical note (100 words) indicating how this work relates to your wider interests and whether you are likely to attend in person or online.

Accepted presentations will be pre-recorded, submitted by 12 October, and viewed by the participants in the week before the workshop. The working language of the workshop is English.

Publication outcomes will include contributions to the historical dictionary of Jocist women, and a themed issue of a journal.

Proposals should be submitted to

Katharine Massam, University of Divinity, Melbourne by 17 June 2022.

Acceptance will be advised by 30 June 2022.

Registration at the workshop is free but participants will need to fund travel and accommodation.


Call for papers – Jocist Women Leaders Project