J.O.C. Methods in Australia


IT is my intention in this brief article to outline the efforts that are being made in an industrial parish to promote Catholic Action among the young workers. Our parish, of 3000 souls, caters as well as any parish for the social and sporting interests of the young. There is a flourishing C.Y.M.S. (70 members), a Boys’ Club with a membership of 100, a “Learn to Dance” and Social Club with 150 male members, and a Troop of Boy Scouts. Many lads, however, remained outside the influence of these clubs —whilst not a few of the various members remained indifferent Catholics.

These conditions existed in our parish 18 months ago, when we founded our first “study group”—hoping to promote a more active Catholicity within these clubs and elsewhere in the parish. We adopted the accepted technique for such groups; we met once a fortnight; talks were prepared; subjects studied and discussed; the priest attended all our meetings… and yet we failed. We seemed to get nowhere; interest was lost, discussion became negligible, and we ceased to exist. How many others have experienced the same fate? Our own faith had been strengthened, but this form of study repelled many of those who were born to be leaders of the workers. This “study” is suited to the needs of students or farmers or older people —but it is not a success with workers.


Conscious of our failure, we were equally conscious of the work of certain young boys in the parish, boys who didn’t meet in study groups, yet were successful in bringing many young lads back to a practice of their Faith. These boys, in the main, belonged to either the Boys’ Club or the Social Club, and it was their aim TO GET INTO CONTACT with every Catholic boy of the parish, either directly or indirectly, holding out as inducements the FACILITIES which the Club had to offer, and thus bring them back to their Catholic Faith. Here we had an example of real Catholic Action. How could we organise along these lines? How incorporate this technique arising so naturally amongst these young Australians? It was obvious that these boys had unconsciously made the Jocist technique of Catholic Action their own. We immediately decided that our group should be rejuvenated, and all its activities based upon Jocist methods. We were encouraged in this by our Spiritual Director, who, with four other priests from similar suburbs, had formed a Priests’ discussion group, specialising in a study of Jocism. Each one of these priests had a Jocist group in his own parish, and each brought experiences of his own group to the Priests’ meeting, and then vice versa.


Under our new scheme the meeting opens with a ten-minute TALK by the priest on such subjects as Catholic Action in General, in the Home, in the Parish, in the Factory, etc. This talk is intended as a stimulus to zeal and enthusiasm rather than a learned treatise. Then come the MINUTES of the last meeting, read by a different member at each meeting. This is followed by a REPORT by each member on the work done by him since the last meeting. This work has arisen out of the second and most important part of the meeting, the new system of study that we have adopted—namely, the INQUIRY System.

We have seen how the boys in an unorganised way made enquiries about the habits, activities and so on of the lads they were interested in; they decided then how the information received would help them in the attainment of their real end—and accordingly did they act. They saw, they judged, and they acted as individuals. We were to see, judge and act as a group. We took as the basis of our work of inquiry a booklet known as “The Young Christian Workers,” this being a series of ten sets of questions on every aspect of the young workers’ material, moral and religious life. It would be impossible to find a more detailed and searching questionnaire, and when the combined answers of the whole group are given, we have at our disposal full data, which we use in forming a judgment on a particular case or a general abuse, and then that judgment is acted upon.

The third part of the meeting, about 15 minutes, is devoted to the study of the MASS, and, later, we intend to study the Sacraments, particularly Marriage.


Everyone knows that Catholic Action is concerned with the material affairs of men since they influence so strongly the spiritual, and so we are endeavouring to help the young unemployed of the parish. We are planning a local register, and we are educating all employees that they are potential employers, since the opportunity of recommending or suggesting a person for a job oftentimes comes their way.

We are doing all we can to plan out the future for the boys in the 8th grade, advising their parents, and procuring scholarships for them. We are planning a Savings Scheme, based on the Schools’ Banking System, thereby instilling thrift into the mind of the young worker, and preparing him for his married life. We are co-operating with the plan for a Workers’ Christmas Camp. It is our intention in the near future to hold a general meeting once a month for all young men 14 to 25, and with that in view we have drawn up a long questionnaire, which we intend to answer for every youth in the parish,”and thus we shall know how best to insure his attendance at the meetings. We are convinced that this form of Catholic Action will interest most young Australians, and so practical is it in its methods that every priest will give it his full support. I need not say that the road to success will be very hard, well nigh impossible, unless you have a priest to guide and inspire you. Our work has confined itself to the parish; soon it must EXPAND to the Factory, Office and Workshop, to lift them out of the state of injustice and immorality into which they have fallen.


J.O.C. Methods in Australia.

F. C. MURPHY in “The Catholic Action Bulletin.”


The Call of Youth

The imagination of a boy is healthy, and the mature imagination of a man is healthy; but there is
a space of life between, in which the soul is in a ferment, the character undecided, the way of life uncertain. . . .”— Keats.

THE space of life between boyhood and manhood is a time that is fraught with difficulties, disturbances, and dangers. The years of childhood have passed, and with them their settled feeling of comparative security. Adolescence has come with a breaking away from the old stable outlook on life, with feelings of insecurity and uncertainty born of the vital changes in mind and body. The shelters of childhood are gone —the influence and protection of the school, the absolute dependence on the parents. The youth begins to discover himself; begins to understand that he must now take his place in the world as an independent individual. Before he has attained that measure of moral balance and assurance which would enable him to stand really alone, he begins to walk, by himself, the rugged path of life. Perhaps he totters; perhaps he doesn’t. He is too shy to ask for help, too proud to cry. He longs for somebody’s confidence, but is too diffident to seek it. He is lonely in his newly discovered independence. In his secret thoughts he tries to puzzle out answers to the great questions of life. “He is too self-conscious, to speak, too tempted to move simply with the Sacraments, too perplexed always to see his way.” His character is in the melting-pot, his temporal future is in question, his eternal destiny at stake.

At this critical period in their lives thousands of boys and girls leave our Catholic Schools each year to take up their place in the world. They are thrown among fellow workers and companions who are, for the most part, indifferent, and very often thoroughly demoralised. Paganism flourishes all around them; pagan outlook, pagan conduct; pagan ideas on all the great realities of life, on marriage, on morality, and on religion. Everything about them tends to destroy in them the pure Christian Faith. What they remember of religion from their school days offers them no immediate solution to the problems and difficulties that confront them now. Destitute of effective weapons, they are faced with a destructive and well armed enemy. Is it any wonder, then, that many of these young people drift into indifference, and are even lost to the True Faith.

Australian Catholic Youth is in dire need of help. Something must be done to take up and continue Christian formation where the school left off, A definite effort must be made to so transform working life, that instead of being an obstacle to salvation, it may promote it. “Our young workers,” says Canon Cardijn, “boys and girls, are not mere beasts of burden, nor machines, nor slaves; but children of God, fellow workers with Him and heirs of His Kingdom.” This divine destiny is the sole end of their temporal and eternal life. It does not begin after death; it is embodied in their life here on earth. The sad thing is that our young workers are diverted from this divine vocation, and find it unrealisable in practice.

What is needed is an organisation of young workers in which, among themselves, by themselves and for themselves, they render one another mutual aid and support, so as to make their own lives vitally and actively Christian. By living this full Christian life, and bringing it right into their working surroundings, the members of this organisation would be enabled to face, and solve, successfully all the difficulties with which they are confronted. The Grail is an organisation that answers this need for girls. But what about our young men? Are we neglecting them? It is true, indeed, that the Young Men’s Societies, and the Confraternities, have done much good and useful work. Great credit is due to them. But they do not give a full solution to the problem. Far be it from us to discredit these excellent organisations in any way, but they do not seem to have that active participation in the every day life of their members which is necessary if the young men are to be thoroughly Christianised.

The late Holy Father, Pope Pius XI, gave us the one efficacious solution for this problem. He proclaimed: “The first apostles, the immediate apostles of the young workers will be the young workers themselves.” Those who are the victims of the paganism of their surrounding must themselves become its conquerors. Everybody can help them, but nobody can replace them. They themselves must solve their own problems; and having Christianised themselves, must win by the influence of their lives, their entire surroundings to Christ. Working on these principles, Canon Cardyn, of Brussels, founded an organisation of young workers, to be a movement of young workers for the salvation of young workers. “It would protect them in the beginning of their life, study their whole life, watch over them, solve all their problems, supply the defects in their religious, moral, intellectual and social training. It would establish a band of militants, who would form the others, and through them and with them act on the mass of young workers to Christianise them. It would put a new spirit into them by showing them the incomparable dignity of their vocation as Christian workers and Brothers of Christ the Worker. It would make offices, shops, factories, mines, and streets, places where a young worker could live a decent Christian life.”

This organisation is known as the J.O.C. (Jeunesse Ouvriere Chretienne), Young Christian Workers. It was started in Belgium; in four years it had 70,000 members there. In 1927 it spread to France, and since them to almost every country of the world. It has captivated the enthusiasm of modern youth. Pope Pius XI called it “an authentic form, an achieved type” of that Catholic Action which was the ruling idea of his Pontificate. It has been started in Australia—we publish an account of its Australian beginnings in this issue. It is a movement which demands our sympathy, our interest, and our help. The future of the Church here depends very much on how we answer the Call of Youth.


April 1, 1940.