ACI Newsletter July 21

Anniversary Edition

Dear Friends,

We have another packed edition for you this month, beginning with our announcement of a special webinar on 19 August with Sister Nathalie Becquart, the French Xavierian nun recently appointed by Pope Francis as Under Secretary to the Vatican Synod of Bishops.

With the third anniversary of ACI's foundation meeting coming up next month, Brian Lawrence reviews our progress and outlines our challenges for the future. We also take this opportunity to ask all current members to renew your subscriptions and invite other readers to join us to increase our capacity to achieve our objectives.

In this light, we also present the video of a special presentation to the ACI directors by Karl Schmude, co-founder of Australia's first liberal arts college, Campion College, on its history and development.

This month the Cardijn Community celebrates its 20th anniversary while the International Catholic Movement of Intellectual and Cultural Affairs (Pax Romana ICMICA), to which ACI is now affiliated, marks its centenary. It's not widely known that Cardijn himself was a member of the ICMICA Belgium national executive.

We feature an interview with Cardinal Jozef De Kesel of Brussels, a former YCS leader, who reflects on the challenges of secularisation. I also have a presentation on the life of Fr Pierre Haubtmann, the French priest and jocist chaplain, who compiled the Vatican II Pastoral Constitution, Gaudium et Spes, and an article on Cardijn's partner, Fr Georges Guérin, founder of the French JOC.

Finally, we include an article on Fr Mick Lowcock, former jocist chaplain from Queensland, who has worked with Indigenous communities in Mount Isa for 30 years, and a special online showing of a documentary on The Australian Great Strike of 1917.

Stefan Gigacz
Sr Nathalie Becquart: Lay people and synodality
Sr Nathalie Becquart
We are pleased to announce that French Xavierian Sister Nathalie Becquart, who was recently appointed by Pope Francis as Under-Secretary to the Vatican Synod of Bishops, will address an ACI Webinar on the theme “Lay People and Synodality” at 7.00pm AEST on Thursday 19 August 2021.

Sr Nathalie previously worked as a youth minister in France and was responsible for youth pastoral work on behalf of the French bishops. She studied theology at the Centre Sèvres in Paris and did further research on the theme of synodality at Boston College in the US.

Responding will be Sarah Moffatt, former Australian YCW national president, now acting chancellor for the Archdiocese of Adelaide, and Samuel Vermuelen, current Perth YCW worker.


Sr Nathalie Becquart: Lay People and Synodality (Australian Cardijn Institute)


Synod on Synodality

Nathalie Becquart (Wikipedia)

Sister Natalie Becquart and the primacy of synodality (The Tablet)

Q & A with Sr. Nathalie Becquart: Upcoming synod could 'turn a clerical church into a synodal church' (Global Sisters Report)


ACI Third Anniversary: Planning for the future
Australian Cardijn Institute
Next month, ACI will mark the third anniversary of our foundation meeting in Melbourne on 19 August 2018.

In preparation for our forthcoming Annual General Meeting, ACI President, Brian Lawrence, has shared his reflections on our progress and offers some thoughts for future development, including boosting our membership.

He proposes a restructuring of ACI's work as follows:

• The life and vision of Joseph Cardijn.
• The theology and promotion of the lay apostolate.
• The study and promotion of Catholic Social Teaching.
• Public policy initiatives.
• Communications: newsletters, online communications, website maintenance, etc.
• Finance, including fundraising.


Brian Lawrence, ACI’s 3rd anniversary: Planning our future (Australian Cardijn Institute)


Download membership application form here. ($25 including application fee, three $1 shares and first year's membership.)

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Cardinal Jozef De Kesel: A new perspective on a secular world
Jozef De Kezel
Belgian Cardinal Jozef De Kesel, who says he found his priestly vocation as a YCS leader, has told a Dutch Catholic newspaper that secularisation is not necessarily a problem. On the contrary, it can offer a new perspective for the Church, he argues.

“People tend to see the secularisation of our culture as a negative development, but there’s no need to be sad about it,” Cardinal De Kesel told Crux.

However, he also questions whether a purely secularist culture has a future, by which he means "a culture that ignores, marginalizes and privatises religion."

"Man is fundamentally a religious being. All premodern cultures were religious cultures. If I say ‘yes’ to a secular culture, it is not a ‘yes’ to a culture without religion," he explained. "I do say ‘yes’ to a culture in which not one particular religion has the function of cultural religion, as used to be the case in the West or as is still the case for the Islam in other parts of the world. A secular culture guarantees diversity."


Belgian cardinal says secularism can offer a new perspective (Crux)

Etats d'âme avec l'archevêque Jozef De Kesel: "On ne naît pas chrétien, on le devient" (La Libre Belgique)


Paul Van Welden / Wikipedia / CC-BY-SA 4.0
Cardijn Community celebrates 20 years
CCI foundation meeting, Bangkok 2021
This month marks the 20th anniversary of a Networking for Development conference in Bangkok from 21-23 July 2001, which led to the foundation of the Cardijn Community International (CCI).

With participants from Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar, the purpose of the conference was to promote cooperation between people and groups involved in development, who followed a similar approach, in particular the Cardijn see-judge-act method of formation.

Originally known as the Cardijn Liaison Committee, then the Cardijn Lay Community, CCI has continued its work in many countries of Asia and Africa.

Its projects over the years include launching the Young People for Development development in 2003, Vatican II anniversary conferences in 2002 and 2012, a New Pentecost program aiming to foster the spirit of Vatican II in the Church and world, the launch of the Cardijn canonisation process in 2014, and promoting the spirituality and methodology of Cardijn. Its Australian affiliate is the Cardijn Community Australia, which is a shareholder in ACI.


CCI 20th anniversary (
Karl Schmude: The development of Campion College
Karl Schmude, the co-founder of Australia's first liberal arts college, Campion College, at Toongabbie, NSW, explained the history of the development of the college in a special presentation to ACI directors recently.

The video of Karl's talk is now available.


Karl Schmude: The development of Campion College (Australian Cardijn Institute/YouTube)
Pierre Haubtmann and the drafting of Gaudium et Spes
Pierre Haubtmann
Pierre Haubtmann, the chief redactor of the final draft of the Vatican II Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the World of Today, Gaudium et Spes, was successively a chaplain to the French YCW (JOC), its adult counterpart, Catholic Worker Action (ACP) as well as other Specialised Catholic Action movements. Indeed, this was a key reason that he was chosen to compile Gaudium et Spes, which follows the Cardijn see-judge-act method.

Stefan Gigacz outlined Haubtmann's life story in a recent presentation for the University of Divinity. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of his accidental death on 6 September 1971.

We are therefore also pleased to announce a special commemorative webinar on 6 September with Haubtmann's successor as the rector of the Catholic Institute of Paris, Mgr Philippe Bordeyne, himself an expert on Gaudium et Spes. Responding to his presentation will be Clara Geogeghan, executive secretary to the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.


Stefan Gigacz, Pierre Haubtmann and the drafting of Gaudium et Spes (YouTube)


Stefan Gigacz, Pierre Haubtmann and the drafting of Gaudium et Spes (Presentation)

Pierre Haubtmann (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)


Mgr Philippe Bordeyne, Remembering Pierre Haubtmann, 6 September 2021, 7.00pm AEST (Zoom)
Pax Romana Centenary
Pax Romana Centenary
ACI is also pleased to announce that we have been accepted as a corresponding institute with Pax Romana-ICMICA, the International Catholic Movement for International and Cultural Affairs, which is also celebrating its centenary this month.

Founded as a student movement in 1921, Pax Romana now comprises two movements: the International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS) and ICMICA.

ICMICA was previously represented in Australia by ACMICA, the Australian Catholic Movement of Intellectual and Cultural Affairs, led for many years by the late Bill Neville and later Fr Peter Maher and others.

It is interesting to note that Cardijn himself had a long association with Pax Romana, possibly going back to its beginnings. He was a keynote presenter at a Pax Roman congress in Yugoslavia in 1938 and was later a member of the national executive of Pax Romana Belgium.

We are proud to follow in these footsteps.

Pax Romana ICMICA

Stefan Gigacz, Cardijn and Pax Romana: 1921-2021 (Cardijn Research)

Joseph Cardijn, Workers and students (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)
Priest with a purpose: Mt Isa's Fr Mick Lowcock
Fr Mick Lowcock
Former YCW chaplain, Fr Mick Lowcock has worked at Good Shepherd parish, Mount Isa for 30 years, involving himself particularly with the local Indigenous community.

Originally from Bowen, Queensland, he became a priest for the Diocese of Townsville 50 years ago. On arrival in Mt Isa, he found himself thrust into a community of many different cultures, including a large Indigenous population, conducting funerals at which he was the only white person.

Seeing the difficult conditions in which local Indigenous families lived, he took action.

"You can't have people living there and not do [something]. So that's why we got hot water, showers, toilets, you know, all the things the basic things people need."

He said helping people was about creating relationships and understanding.

"We've all got dignity because of who we are, whether in the riverbed or, you know, with the mayor, so to speak," he said.


Father Mick is Mount Isa's priest with a purpose and locals say he's turning troubled lives around (ABC News)


ABC News: Stephen Cavenagh
Cardijn and Georges Guérin, founder of the French JOC
Like Cardijn, Georges Guérin, the founding chaplain of the French JOC, was strongly influenced by Marc Sangnier and his movement, Le Sillon.

As a young priest in the industrial Paris suburb of Clichy, Guérin learned of the foundation of the JOC in Belgium in 1926. Within a year, together with a young worker, Georges Quiclet, he had launched the French JOC.

Thus was launched a 40 year partnership with Cardijn that would last until the latter's death in 1967. Guérin played a particularly important role during Vatican II when Cardijn faced difficulties with his own archbishop, Cardinal Suenens, over the content of his book, Laïcs en premières lignes (Laypeople into action).

As soon as the book was finally published in June 1963, Guérin set out on a personal campaign to ensure that every key French bishop received a copy of the book.

Stefan Gigacz recalled Guérin's role in a presentation delivered at a 2019 conference in France commemorating Guérin's life. The cause for George Guérin's canonisation is also now under way.


Stefan Gigacz, Joseph Cardijn, Georges Guérin and the Jocist Network at Vatican II

Cause de canonisation de l’abbé Georges Guérin, fondateur de la JOC en France (Carnet de l’Association française d’histoire religieuse contemporaine) (French)
The Australian Great Strike 1917: Online documentary
Great Strike 1917
Cardijn, who travelled to England to learn about the Dockers Strike of 1911 from Ben Tillett, would surely have also taken an interest in the Australian Great Strike of 1917, which is still our largest industrial upheaval. The story of the Strike is now re-told with original film footage from the era by documentarian Amanda King.

Sydney, 1917: Thousands had joined protest marches through the streets, the government recruited volunteers to break the strike, issuing some of them with guns; unions were deregistered and union leaders charged with conspiracy.

It was a time of violent emotions, state violence and individual acts of violence by and against strikers. A striker, Mervyn Flanagan, was shot and killed. With the introduction of a new ‘timecard’ system, known as Scientific Management or Taylorism, originating from the United States, transport workers stopped work, triggering the strike.

The documentary examines the industrial, social and political context of a struggle that had lasting consequences for the labour movement in Australia. Personal stories and legacies filtered through generations of families for years to come, reflecting on the fight for decent conditions and fair treatment in the workplace, which still strongly resonate today. Val Noone, who has written about YCW history, is among those interviewed in the documentary.

It will be shown online at a special presentation in Portland, Oregon this week at 11am Australian Eastern Time on Friday morning 30 July.


The GREAT STRIKE 1917(2018; 69 minutes) By Amanda King


Joseph Cardijn, Worker Organisation in England (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

1917 Australian General Strike (Wikipedia)
United in Christ: Wartime postcard of the French JOC and JAC (Rural YCW)
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