Saturday, 4 March 2017

'Formation, Laity & Vatican II: The YCW in Australia' Conference call for papers

Fr Frank Lombard (left) with Mgr Joseph Cardijn in 1957
The Cardijn Community of Australia together with Catholic Theological College and the University of Divinity are calling for papers for a Symposium on “Formation, Laity, & Vatican II: The YCW in Australia” which will take place at CTC, Melbourne on Saturday 29 July 2017.

The conference will also mark the 50th anniversaries of the deaths of Joseph Cardijn (24 July 1967) and Fr Frank Lombard, founding chaplain of the Australian YCW, who died four days later on 28 July 1967.

Conference theme

The YCW was the ‘most significant lay movement in twentieth century Catholicism’, declared Australian church historian Edmund Campion in his book Rockchoppers.

The Australian YCW was notably an initiative of the laity (the Melbourne Campion Society, and the Grail), whose schemes were adopted by the bishops and from 1941 developed by a priests committee with lay financial support. In later years lay adult ‘collaborators’ replaced religious chaplains. Many YCW leaders surrendered years, and sometimes careers, to the compelling vision of the YCW. Many religious vocations were shaped significantly by YCW exposure. Australia’s YCW is a potent story of clergy and laity in a vital, undulating, working relationship.

In 2017 we commemorate the 50th anniversaries of Cardinal Joseph Cardijn and national chaplain Fr Frank Lombard. It is also the 25th anniversary of Msgr John F Kelly, YCW author, editor, and pre-Cana leader, and the 20th anniversary of Fr Hugh O’Sullivan, YCW author, and Adelaide, Australian and Asia-Pacific YCW chaplain.

On Saturday 29th July Cardijn Community Australia in conjunction with Catholic Theological College (University of Divinity) will present a symposium on ‘Formation, Laity, Vatican II: The YCW in Australia’. We are seeking a wide range of papers relating to the historical context of the YCW in Australia. For example:

  • the developing theology of the laity in the Church, and YCW 
  • particular YCW chaplains & lay collaborators (local, state, national) 
  • methods of YCW lay formation 
  • initiatives of YCW / NCGM leaders, including extension work (national and international) 
  • new environments: eg, Vatican II, cultural revolution, changes in localism, education, social critiques 
  • new responses: eg, the ‘worker question’, ‘social justice’, ‘small Christian communities’, ‘liberation theology’ 
  • notable conflicts between YCW (or related lay movement) and church hierarchy 
We are calling for short (20 minute) scholarly presentations. We will also welcome expressions-of-interest for non-scholarly presentations on, for example, experiences with a particular chaplain, YCW/NCGM training weekends, or broader thoughts on formation. It is anticipated that some papers will be published.

While the forum will look at the role of chaplaincy and lay formation in the YCW, it will also provide opportunity for wider reflection on lay formation and mission in the Australian church today.

It is anticipated that it will be a prelude for a larger conference on the YCW to be held in 2018.

Please submit proposals, with synopsis, by Tuesday 28th March, to:

Rev Dr Max Vodola: or David Moloney:

Friday, 16 December 2016

Bill Armstrong on international volunteering

Former Australian YCW and International YCW leader Bill Armstrong has been deeply immersed in Australian volunteering through all these passing generations, writes Robin Davies at DevPolicy.

He is best known as head of the Melbourne-based non-government organisation Australian Volunteers International, which until 1999 had been known as the Overseas Service Bureau, for two decades until his retirement in 2002. But he goes back much further than that, having joined the fledgling Overseas Service Bureau as a junior staff member in the early 1960s, around the time it absorbed the Volunteer Graduate Scheme.

Unsurprisingly, Bill has encountered sceptics in the course of his career, people who think that volunteering is a kind of amateur activity without much impact, or at least lasting impact.

‘There are lots of people who somehow can’t get out from under the fact that if you don’t earn big money you’re not really professional, or there’s something wrong with you—you’re a “missionary, mercenary or misfit”.

Bill well recalls the period when Papua New Guinea was heavily dependent on the substantial numbers of Australian volunteers who worked as doctors, nurses, teachers and engineers throughout the country. He points to OSB’s early project in Vietnam, which trained or upgraded about 1,000 Vietnamese English-language teachers before the Australian government was ready to go back in with its own aid program. He points to the contributions of Australian and other volunteers in refugee camps in Africa and other parts of the world. And he talks also about the particular importance of volunteers in small and fragile states.

‘I can think of a situation in the Cook Islands in the Pacific, where for something like 10 or 15 years a series of volunteers were responsible for electrical engineering at the power plant, until the local authorities were able to take responsibility. And in East Timor, following the crisis of ’99, there were some 200 volunteers from Australia, some attached to the UN, working in very senior positions within the fledgling public service.’

Bill owes his own introduction to international development, and indeed a good deal of his education, to the Young Christian Worker’s Movement, a Catholic youth organisation with which he became involved as a 16-year-old apprentice. In time, it was deemed to be too progressive an organisation, and lost the support of the church. Its equivalent would be hard to find now, concludes Robin Davies.


Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Celebrating 75 years of the Melbourne YCW

Present and former YCW leaders joined with the Cardijn Community Australia on 8 September to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the YCW in Melbourne in 1941.

Fr Bruce Duncan CSsR celebrated a mass with us at the YCW House in North Fitzroy. In his homily, he noted the connection of the anniversary with the feast of the Nativity of Our Lady, linking it to the "incarnational" theology of the movement.

Current Australian YCW national president, Zoe Cresswell, welcomed participants, thanking them for the contribution to the movement over the years.

On behalf of CCA, Stefan Gigacz said the event was an expression of solidarity with the new generation of YCW leaders and highlighted the need for former YCWs to support the growth of the movement today.

"Recent newspaper reports of the underpayment of tens of thousands of young workers in supermarkets, convenience stores and restaurants exposed by former YCW fulltime worker, Josh Cullinan, have illustrated the continuing need for the YCW today," he said.

Wayne McGough signaled the enquiry into family life currently being developed by the Cardijn Community.

Following the mass, we adjourned to the Lord Newry Hotel for further sharing of memories and development of intergenerational solidarity.

Cardijn Community Australia founder Kevin Vaughan with former Melbourne diocesan leader, Fr Wayne Edwards 

 Former Melbourne YCW fulltimer Terry Byrne with former national leader Julie Mercer

 Former Brisbane YCW president Chris Hartigan with current YCS worker Jessica Russell

 Cardijn Community leader Wayne McGough

 Current YCW national president Zoe Cresswell with Denis Sheehan, Di Dixon, Mick O'Brien, Mick Leahy, Chris Dixon and Fr Bruce Duncan

Kevin Vaughan with former YCW national leader Fred Sim

Former Labor MHR Dr Race Mathews, who is currently a book on distributism which sheds light on the contribution of the YCW Cooperative, with Denis Sheehan

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Melbourne YCW turns 75

The Australian YCW and the Cardijn Community Australia will host a commemorative mass to mark the 75th anniversary of the official foundation of the Melbourne YCW on 8 September 1941.

Fr Bruce Duncan CSsR, director of the Yarra Institute for Religion and Social Policy will celebrate the mass with us.

Welcome to join us for this historic occasion.

Following the mass, we plan to go for dinner at the Lord Newry Hotel.

Melbourne YCW 75th Anniversary1941 – 2016

Commemorative Mass

with Fr Bruce Duncan CSsR

Thursday 8 September 2016

YCW House
537 Brunswick Street
North Fitzroy, 3068

Phone: 03 9489 4387

Historical note

In around 1937, Kevin T. Kelly, a member of the Campion Society, began the earliest known efforts to start jocist groups for teenage male young workers in Melbourne.

In 1940, Fr Frank Lombard also took up and built on these initiatives. Within a year, Archbishop Daniel Mannix had approved the transformation of the existing Catholic Boys Legion into the YCW. The same year, a jocist girls' movement began also in Melbourne that would eventually take the name of the National Catholic Girls Movement (NCGM), the forerunner of the Girls YCW.

Fr Lombard chose the date of 8 September 1941, celebrated liturgically as the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady, as the symbolic date of the birth of the Melbourne YCW. Therefore, it’s a fitting date to celebrate both the original birth of the Melbourne YCW and its rebirth today.

“We are always beginning again” - Joseph Cardijn

Friday, 29 July 2016

Bendigo commemorates Cardijn

Former YCWs from Bendigo commemorated the 19th anniversary of Cardijn's death with a mass at St Therese's Church, Bendigo on 24 July 1916.

Former Bendigo YCW chaplain Monsignor Frank Marriott delivered the following homily:

Today is the 49th anniversary of the death of Joseph Cardinal Cardijn the founder of the International YCW. .Iong before the late Bishop Grech used the telling phrase "God does not make rubbish".

Cardijn had roused up young people with his proclamation of the dignity of each and every young person which rattled the existing establishment for it was the foundation and call to action based upon a insight to the ancient teaching on BAPTISM?

His methodology of See, Judge ,Act was readily accepted , understood and embraced. His call to Review our lives based upon the truths of Life Faith and the contradiction thus exposed against the call to Change the world according to the teaching of Jesus aroused a generation to action.This occurred not only in his own native Land but spread around the world, arrived in Australia in the late 1940' s and is still alive in 90 countries today.

I was invited to attend the Cardijn Community International meeting in Chennai in May. The meeting was scheduled for December 2015 but was washed out by torrential rain and flood,the airport was closed for five days. In May it was 41 degrees most days and they did not have enough water to put on the grass at the Cricket ground! Eleven nations sent delegations old memories revived as we analysed our current situations, intriguing stories told ,old memories recalled, like

- Cardijn being welcomed by Pope Pius X1. " at last someone to talk to me about the Workers"

- The meeting between Pope John the XX111 and Cardijn that sparked the writing of Mater et Magistra

- A few years later Don Helder Camara suggested to Paul VI that Cardijn be made a Cardinal so that his voice be really heard at the Council.

This man with his young workers lived the social teaching of the Church They practiced the principle of Subsidiary .They ran their meetings organised their agendas and financed their work. They practised their Christian Dignity, opened the Word of God And were in the forefront of "full active and conscious participation" not only the liturgy but in all aspects of their parish life and that of the community.

In our Diocese YCW groups were established in most Parishes for leaders and general members. Len Chalkey was the first fulltime worker in Victoria followed in time by a series of wonderful women and men who gave years of their lives to the world of formation of young people.

The credit co op movement was born under the palm trees at St. Kilians and grew throughout the Diocese..Pre and Post Cana sessions were developed for those preparing for marriage,Road safety campaigns resulted in the bringing of seat belts to Victoria, and the stories go on. Who can forget the wonderful sporting and social events organised throughout the Diocese?

Next year is the 50th anniversary of the death of Cardijn. The process for Canonisation of Cardijn has begun in Belgium. It is also the 60th anniversary of the 1957 great International Congress in Rome . The YCW harnessed the energy and enthusiasm of 30,000 young people who went to Rome to greet the Pope with their unique message.

Today in the spirit of the Gospel we ask:

- Will you take a prayer card and pray for the Cardijn Cause?

- Some 10 movements are alive in our world coming out of the Cardijn experience. YCW is alive in 90 countries.

- Will you seek the support of people to celebrate the gift of Cardijn by considering to join a pilgrimage from Brussels to Rome in August next year?

Thanks for being with us today . Please stay after Mass, enjoy some hospitality and we can discuss these matters.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Henderson misunderstood the YCW: Bruce Duncan

Gerard Henderson misunderstood the significance of the YCW in his recent biography of BA Santamaria, argues Bruce Duncan in a review published on Inside Story.

 According to Duncan:

Henderson says that it “focused on individuals, especially the task of bringing lapsed Catholic workers back to the Church.” The YCW, he goes on, was “all very theoretical, time-consuming and timid. Not the kind of involvement to excite Santamaria.” But Cardijn’s vision was far more robust than that. The YCW was for young people, many of whom left school early. At work, they could form small groups to discuss social issues and how to engage with those issues in the light of their Gospel discussions. They then determined on action.

Because Cardijn highlighted the crucial need for practical action, the YCW trained young people to engage in civil issues on their own initiative. It was anti-communist, of course, but it kept apart from party politics, and its leaders resisted efforts by Santamaria to conscript its members into his Movement.

Read more here: