Catholic Action on the Stock Exchange

Fr. Victor Dillard, S.J., the author of the following article, is attached to the Action Populaire, centre of social studies in Paris, and enjoys a reputation as an expert analyst of European social, economic and financial movements. The creation of a Jociste centre among the employes of the Stock Exchange in Paris is one of his most remarkable achievements.

EVERYBODY knows to some extent of the Catholic Action of “Jocistes” and of “Jecistes” among the working and student classes in France. One is not so familiar with the interesting activities of the Catholics in the extensive field of Business and Finance. For the last few years, the Catholics of France have realised that they have the special duty of improving both social and vocational life, in order that it may be in conformity with sound principles of Social and Moral Doctrine.

One of the most interesting groups of that kind is, without any doubt, the G.B.A.C.—”Group Boursier d’Action Catholique” (Group of Catholic Action in the Paris Stock Exchange).

This movement has been adopted in Belgium, and groups in both Bruxelles and Paris are now co-operating. It would be beneficial to all concerned if such groups were organised in the various Stock Exchanges throughout the world. Perhaps someone will be moved to do the same in the financial centres of the United States.


The French group was started in 1934. A few of the employes of the Bourse (Stock Exchange), most of them former boy scouts, held meetings from time to time in order to strengthen their bond of friendship, and to improve their knowledge of Catholic doctrine. One day, two of them had a very singular experience. They were asked by client of the Bourse to take part in a dishonest financial transaction, and they refused to co-operate. Shortly after, they were asked into the office of their own employer. He demanded the reason for their refusal to participate in the transaction.

“If we should,” they answered, “you would be justified in considering us rascals.”

“I prefer to deal with rascals rather than with fools,” answered the employer. The two boys were deeply scandalised and decided to give up their job and look for another more honest occupation. They came to ask advice. After a discussion, we realised that it would not be wise to leave the business in the hands of other less scrupulous people. It would be better to try to group other Catholics and to meet occasionally in order to find ways and means of cleaning, up the atmosphere of the Bourse.

So we did. The boys found a dozen companions, among whom was an employer. All were fully decided to reach their goal and to work courageously for the moral improvement of the Bourse. For a year they met every month. They studied attentively the Encyclicals of the Church: “Rerum Novarum—On the Condition of the Working Classes,” “Quadragesimo Anno—On Reconstructing the Social Order,” “Divini Redemptoris—On Atheistic Communism.”


They studied the original texts and during some quiet meetings of the Bourse, it was very amusing to see people take out their booklets of Encyclicals and read them before the amazed eyes of their fellow-men. But they were not satisfied with mastering the theory of these principles. They wanted to realise their concrete application in their own daily work. They brought to the Study Clubs their various cases of conscience, and by discussion they tried to solve them.

The next year we decided that the real apostolic work should be begun. Each member of the established Study Club was asked to find other persons in the Stock Exchange who would be interested in the work we planned to do. The enthusiasm and interest which they evidenced gave birth in a very short time to about ten different Study Clubs.

These are made up of men interested in the same kind of business. One of these clubs, for instance, consists solely of employers—namely, stockbrokers. About fifteen of them met once a month to discuss the various points concerning the ethics of the business.

Another group is composed of important officers; another, of the employes working inside the Stock Exchange; another, of employes working in the various offices outside the Stock Exchange; another, of girls; another, of Jocistes; another, of messengers—”grouillots”—of the Stock Exchange of Paris, etc.

Once the Study Clubs have discussed the various questions, they come to a conclusion. They hold a general meeting, usually on Saturday morning. They have a Dialogue Mass, during which they receive Holy Communion, and afterwards meet at a Communion breakfast. Then they divide into small circles, each comprising one employer, one officer, one inside employe, one outside employe, one girl, one Jociste, one messenger, etc. They discuss the same questions, comparing the various conclusions of their Study Clubs, and then they try to come to an agreement.

After one hour of such discussion, we hold a common meeting, in which we try to come to a very accurate and practical conclusion. Finally, we decide to take a definite attitude concerning these problems, as Catholics should. We print our resolutions in a concise but complete form on a small postal card. These cards are distributed to everybody in the Stock Exchange. This is, then, a public declaration of what the Catholics are decided to do.

The following month another question is discussed, a resolution is taken, and then gradually the principles adopted by the Catholics make a deeper and deeper impression upon all connected with the Stock Exchange, regardless of their religious tenets. Of course, the courageous Catholics who have decided to respect and act according to sound Catholic principles are at the present time in the minority. We count about four hundred members of the group in the Bourse. But these four hundred persons are so active, so energetic that their influence is felt in every corner of the Temple of Mammon.


In June, 1938, his Eminence Cardinal Verdier, Archbishop of Paris, came to the Bourse to visit the group. His Eminence was received not only by the leaders of the group, but also by the president of the Bourse and by all the chief officers, Catholics and non-Catholics. They declared that they considered this form of Catholic Action as one of the most important factors for future success in business centres, and they also appreciated the ethical influence of this group in France.

The stand taken by these Catholics has a far-reaching and beneficial effect. One of the most important consequences of this influence is the co-operation of employers and employes for mutual benefits. The president of this Catholic Action group is not selected from the employers, but he is chosen from among the employes on account of his sound principles and appreciation of spiritual values.

Everybody who knows the habits of the people frequenting the Bourse in Paris will appreciate what a change has been effected in this Stock Exchange. The bankers of Paris are now beginning the same work, and they have already about twelve Study Clubs preparing for future activity in the field of Catholic Action. The insurance companies have just started the same organisation. Many employers of the various industries—textile, iron works, , printing industries, chemical products, aeroplanes, etc.—are organising similar Study Clubs in order to improve social relations and spread the love of honesty in business.

This work is not easy—sometimes it demands real heroism. Think, for instance, of the young bankers who decided to be perfectly frank in the publication of their annual sheets. Think of the courage of the employers who decide to pay their income taxes honestly. Morality in questions of competition, advertising, financing, etc., is of much importance for the future of our civilisation. Such a task cannot be accomplished by any political or private initiative, but has to be done with the ideals of unselfishness and charity which may be found in the teachings of the Catholic religion.

—”Columbia,” June, 1939.


Catholic Action on the Stock Exchange (Advocate, Thursday 22 June 1939, page 25) (Trove)


Victor Dillard (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

First Federal Conference of Delegates

The first Conference of Organisers of Catholic Action in Australia and New Zealand took place at the offices of the National Secretariat of Catholic Action, 379 Collins Street, Melbourne. The following delegates attended the Conference, which was held under the auspices of the Episcopal Sub-Committee on Catholic Action: — Adelaide, Rev. W. L. Dunne, Mr. P. Gillick; Armidale, Rev. P. J. Dunne, D.D., Mr. H. M. Regan; Ballarat. Rev. J. Mclnerney; Brisbane, Mr. Favier; Hobart, Rev. R. Scarfe; Maitland, Rev. E. Tweedy, D.D. ; Melbourne, Rev. T. O’Sullivan; New Zealand, Rev. J. A. Higgins, S.M.; Rockhampton, Very Rev. Dean Rowan; Sale, Rev. T. Calinan; Sandhurst. Rev. T. Cahill, D.D.; Toowoomba, Rev. E. Concannon; Townsville, Rev. P. T. Kelly; Wagga, Rev. B. W. Hayden; Western Australia, Rev. J. Hussey; National Secretariat, Mr. F. K. Maher and Mr. B. A. Santamaria. 

The resolutions passed by the Conference were subsequently submitted to a meeting of the Episcopal Sub-Committee on Catholic Action and have been approved by the Sub-Committee. Resolutions Passed Ey Conference. 

1. That the Conference express its sorrow at the death of his Holiness the Pope and requests the National Secretariat to ask the Apostolic Delegate to send on behalf of the Conference a cablegram to his Eminence Cardinal Pizzardo expressing the feelings of the members of the Conference and asking for his Eminence’s blessing on their deliberations. 

2. That the Conference recommends the general instructions on the formation of groups and the conduct thereof as set out in the brochure ‘Your Group’ published by the National Secretariat and suggests that further consideration be given to the question of programmes for the first year. 

3. That the Conference recommend the insertion of the Prayer for the Conversion of Australia among the prayers to be recited at group meetings. 

4. That the Diocesan organisers be recommended, in preparing the First Year Courses for their groups, to arrange for treatment of the topics recommended by the Sub-Committee on group programmes, while keeping very closely in mind the need to vary the method’ and order of treatment of these topics according to the requirements of the various kinds of groups, and that the National Secretariat be asked to prepare outlines and questionnaires covering the topics — publishing pamphlets if possible, where such are necessary, for the assistance of group leaders. 

5. That special emphasis be paid by diocesan organisers in arranging their programmes to the study of the Mass. 

6. That a discussion on the proper use of leisure and of sport be added to the syllabus for first year groups. 

7. That all Catholic Action groups take into serious consideration the study of the Liturgy of the Church and that the National Secretariat use every means to foster the study of the Liturgy in study groups. 

8. That Catholic Action groups should be directed to devote some portion of each meeting to planning local action. 

9. That this Conference being convinced that the only effective method of solving the youth problem is by training youth to conquer youth, strongly recommends that in commencing a youth movement the method should follow strictly Catholic Action lines from the beginning and should commence with the training of a small group of militants between the ages of 14 to 25. 

10. That the principals of Catholic schools be asked to furnish Diocesan Secretariats with the names, addresses, and where possible the intention as to occupations of the boys and girls leaving primary and secondary schools each year. 

11. That the National Secretariat be asked to issue direction for the commencement of youth groups along the lines of the Young Christian Workers’ Movement. 

12. That the Conference recommend that as far as possible the method of specialisation should be adopted by Diocesan Organisers in the organisation of groups according to interest, based on vocational grouping, in the sense of Catholic social principles, and not according to class distinctions based on occupations. 

14. That the Conference suggests that to secure the interest of priests in Catholic Action at meetings of priests the organisation of Catholic Action be discussed wherever possible and that a recommendation should be made for the establishment, wherever possible, of groups of priests for the study of Catholic Action. 

15. That the term ‘Ecclesiastical Assistant’ should be preferred to the term ‘Chaplain’ to describe those priests appointed by the Bishops to look after groups of Catholic Action. 

16. That the Conference recommend that the ‘Bulletin for Chaplains of Catholic Action’ published at Mosgiel, New Zealand, should receive support from the priests. 

17. That no fixed spiritual obligations be imposed on members of Catholic Action groups, provided they are practical Catholics, but very special spiritual exercises and advice be provided for them and they should be encouraged to make more use of these for their spiritual formation as militants. 

18. That the Conference request the permission of the Episcopal SubCommittee to describe their groups working under the authority of the Diocesan Organisers as ‘Catholic Action Groups.’ 

19. That the Conference recommends the establishment of Catholic literature groups in every parish for the purpose of selling Catholic literature and that such groups be co-ordinated under the Diocesan Organiser. : 

20. That this Conference gives its support to a monthly paper proposed to be published for the ? development of the Rural Movement and to do all in its power to promote such movement and the interest of such a paper. 

12. That the Diocesan Organisers should attempt to obtain agents to distribute the Italian Paper ‘L’Angelo della Famiglia’ and to encourage groups to push the sale of this publication in districts where there are groups of Italians. 

22. That the Conference recommend the formation of a special group to write to the Catholic and secular press provided such groups are organised under the supervision of the Diocesan Organisers. 

23. That the National Secretariat be asked to produce a monthly bulletin of Catholic Action for circulation among Catholic Action groups in Australia and New Zealand. 

24. That the Conference recommend the establishment of Catholic Action groups in schools along the lines suggested in the agenda for the National Conference. 

25. That the Conference recommends to the Diocesan Organisers to organise groups of Catholic teachers to study the question of Catholic Action In Catholic schools, particularly with rel’orence to the youth problem. 

26. That the Secretarial should compile a syllabus of Instruction for schools concerning the social doctrine of the Church and other matters connected with Catholic Action, together with suitable references thereof and should make these available for the use of teachers in Catholic schools. 

27. That the Conference recommends the Diocesan Organisers to obtain the assistance of the inspectors of Catholic schools in promoting Catholic Action throughout the diocese. 

28. That the Conference recommend that the Liturgical Movement be given special encouragement in the schools, particularly by means of thorough instruction on the Sacrifice of the Mass, the uso of the Missal and the trim significance of the Sacraments. 

29. That the Conference recommends the establishment in the Diocese of Maitland of a ‘Social Justice Information Bureau’ to co-operate with the National Secretariat in the dissemination of information on the fundamental principles of the Catholic social order with particular reference to the manner in which the principles nffoct the mining industry. 

30. That the Conference recommend the establishment through the cooperation of Father Higgins and the National Secretariat, of a Social Justice Information Bureau for the organising of propaganda on a large scale to disseminate knowledge of the fundamental principles on which, according to the Pontifical documents, the Christian social order must be built and that this information be available, particularly in times of acute social unrest. 

31. The following recommendations of the Sub-Committee appointed to deal with finance were unanimously adopted: 

(a) That the sale of Catholic literature, such as C.T.S. pamphlets, the Sheed and Ward Series, etc., should be exploited as one of the means of financing Catholic Action. 

(b) That the National Secretariat should explore the possibilities of arranging visits from overseas lecturers from time to time.


First Federal Conference of Delegates (Catholic Freeman’s Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1932 – 1942), Thursday 15 June 1939, page 4) (Trove)