Catholic Action and Vocations…

A fear, which has been expressed, that “Catholic Action” may hinder vocations to the religious state is considered in the following article by Rev. W. P. Hackett, SJ., ecclesiastical assistant to the National Secretariat of Catholic Action. Fr. Hackett shows that, far from hindering vocations, the lay apostolate, as the Holy Father has remarked, has proved a fruitful seed plot for vocations.

P EOPLE sometimes feel a little uneasy about modern movements— such as the Grail, the. J.O.C., the Rural Movement and other Catholic Action bodies. They fear that these new developments may hinder vocations.

In fact, some people here in Melbourne have told me quite definitely that seminaries and religious Orders, particularly Orders of nuns, were suffering. I am glad to be able to reassure such people.

Both here and elsewhere these movements have fostered vocations. In fact, some of the results are startling. It must be very consoling to the Sovereign Pontiffs to know that not merely are the laity helped by these movements, but, as a result, the number of vocations has enormously increased.

It is interesting to note that the Holy Father himself foresaw this result, and used it as an argument for a more general adoption of Catholic Action.


“And here,” he declares, “Our thoughts turn gladly to that Catholic Action so much desired and promoted and defended by Us. For by Catholic Action the laity share in the Hierarchical Apostolate of the Church, and hence it cannot neglect this vital problem of priestly • vocations.

Comfort has filled Our heart to see the associates of Catholic Action everywhere distinguishing themselves in all fields of Christian activity, but especially in this. Certainly the richest reward of such activity is that really wonderful number of priestly and religious vocations, which continue to flourish in their organisations for the young.

This shows that these organisations are both a fruitful ground of virtue and also a well-guarded and well-cultivated nursery, where the most beautiful and delicate flower may develop without danger. May all members of Catholic Action feel the honour which thus falls on their association.

Let them be persuaded that in no better way than by this work for an increase in the ranks of the secular and regular clergy can the Catholic laity really participate in the high’ dignity of the’ ‘kingly priesthood,’ which the Prince of the Apostles attributes to the whole body of the redeemed.” No one who fully understands Catholic Action is surprised. If you explain

the full beauty of the Apostolate and the priesthood to able young men it is but natural that many, aroused by the wonder of participating to some degree in the Apostolate and sharing in the royal priesthood, will be eager to become full apostles and to become candidates for the full priesthood.

This wave of vocations is found in many places simultaneously. From the early days of the J.O.C. and similar organisations there were numerous vocations. It was not long before the J.O.C. was being assisted by chaplains who had themselves been, once upon a time, workers in these young workers’ movements. Similarly, from the Women’s Youth Federations and other girls’ organisations, such as the Grail, there came a splendid increase in vocations to women’s communities.


Perhaps the most striking development has been in Spain. The following extract from the “Catholic Herald,” February 6, 1942, shows that “more than 1000 of the 100,000 members of the Juvantud Catholica, the Catholic Young Men’s Organisation of Spain, have entered the seminary within the last two years. Among them is Manual Aporici, who for seven years has acted as national president of the youth groupings.”

Of the 1000, the majority are aspirants to the diocesan clergy. In this way will be carried out the idea of Angel Herrera, Catholic Actionist and journalist, who gave up his career to become a priest.

“Catholic Action will only then be properly understood when it has as ecclesiastical assistants priests who themselves have worked in the ranks of Catholic Action.” Here in Australia, though Catholic Action is still in its infancy, there have been many vocations. A large number of former members of the Campion Society have either been ordained or are studying for the priesthood.

The present chaplain of the Campion Society in Melbourne is a former Campion member, the Rev. Vincent Long, O.F.M. In one year alone six members of the Campion Society in Sydney left to take up religious life. Several of those who attended the Quests at “Tay Creggan” have already joined religious Orders; others have enrolled themselves in the ranks of the Grail.

This is good news, and a movement which produces such results is obviously a valuable one. When a Pope speaks about Catholic Action as Pius XI. did—”not without inspiration,” he says more than once—we others must take notice. Moreover, if we apply the test Our Lord gives, “By their fruits ye shall know them,” we must take even more notice.


Amazing and widespread as this byproduct of Catholic Action is—for its main work is to influence the laity themselves—no one need be surprised. One of the chief means used by Catholic Action is to get people of all sorts to appreciate all the splendour and reality of Christ’s kingdom.

It is no wonder that this fuller realisation produces such striking results. Apart from these considerations, it must be obvious to every thinking Catholic that the hold we have on the principles of religion should be tighter than ever before.

Mere passive acceptance of religion is not enough. Indeed it is a negation of true religion, which is meant to be dynamic, to do things, to help others, to give service, to perform the various works of mercy. When we see concerted action being taken to draw the youth away from the Church we must make greater efforts than ever to safeguard our youth, which is coming into maturity in the midst of a cataclysm.

Everyone, priest or layman, who would not give ready obedience to the words of command issued from the Vatican incurs a tremendous responsibility. Yet some people allow doubts about the meaning or methods of Catholic Action to produce partial or total paralysis. They neither do anything, nor encourage others to do anything.

If only they grasp the fact that a movement which produces so many vocations must be, in some special way, blessed by God, good results should follow even in places where hitherto no massed movement of Catholic Action has been set on foot. In Australia in the past few years the inspiration of priests, the energy of laymen, have given rise—under the direct leadership of the Bishops—to a number of flourishing organisations of Catholic Action.

These have not sought publicity because they wished first to test their methods and lay sound foundations; consequently, the Catholic public does not fully appreciate what is being done.


Now there is for all farmers the National Catholic Rural Movement; for all girls the National Catholic Girls’ Movement; for all young workers the Young Christian Workers; for adult workers the Nationaf Christian Workers’ Movement; for students in colleges, the Young Catholic Students’ Movement— and so on.

There are few members of the Catholic community for whom an appropriate organisation does not exist or is not being built up. All these are capable of enormous expansion; all have programmes and other literature available for those who wish to join them; all offer magnificent opportunities for apostolic energy.

Information about these movements will be sent to anyone who applies to the Australian National Secretariat of Catholic Action, 379 Collins-street, Melbourne, or to any of the diocesan organisers in the various dioceses.

The lay leaders of these movements are themselves well aware of the need to stimulate vocations among their members and take every opportunity in this direction. At meetings, and during retreats, arranged for Catholic Action bodies, priests are able to depict the beauty and dignity of religious life to highly sympathetic auditors.

Thus the words of the late Holy Father, spoken in a Consistorial Allocution nearly ten years ago, hold true of Australia to-day: “On this Catholic Action, God Himself, by sure signs and in proof of His approbation and love, has seemed to bestow a sweet smile, since in its midst —that is to say, among its different organisations, to which we are -becoming more and more attached—He has mysteriously and abundantly sown the choice seeds of eccfe^iastical vocations.”



William Hackett SJ, Catholic Action and Vocations... (Advocate, Thursday 3 September 1942, page 21) (Trove)

Chair of Catholic Action at Corpus Christi

Important Appointment to Fulfil Direct Wish of Holy Father

Ecclesiastical Assistant, National Secretariat of Catholic Action.


THE appointment of the Rev. C. Mayne, S.J., to a newly-established Chair of Catholic Action at Corpus Christi Seminary, Werribee, Victoria, is an announcement of major importance made recently by the authorities of the college.

It is a matter of keen satisfaction that the college, in making the appointment, is fulfilling the ^direct wish of the Holy Father that seminaries should provide adequate training for priests to assist them in their later work as chaplains of Catholic Action.

When the late Holy Father made his famous appeal to the priests of the world to encourage and support Catholic Action, he well realised the momentous nature of the work he was confiding to them and the tremendous burden he was placing on their already heavily-laden shoulders.

The words, “It is your chief duty, Venerable Brethren, and that of your clergy to seek diligently, to select prudently and to train fittingly lay ajJbstles . . .,” might not at once attract the full attention of the casual reader. In fact,-they open whole new worlds of activity and influence for the average priest.


Since the beginning of official Catholic Action in Australia, the lay leaders have set themselves to gain the confidence of the priests and work in the most complete co-operation” with them. The manner in which this co-operation is to be exercised, of course, was not clear at the beginning. While there are certain fundamental principles that hold true in all cases, the exact amount of direction which the priest will need to give in a lay movement depends, to a great extent, on the type of movement as well as on the age, sex and degree of education of the members. Nevertheless, this work has been undertaken with the greatest good-will on both sides.

To most people in this country, Catholic Action is, at their first acquaintance with it, a new and rather bewildering science. Its purpose—the winning of the world to Christ through the activity of lay-folk—is clear enough. It is the questions of technique and of organisation that are, at the beginning, somewhat baffling. For those in charge of such movements a good deal of study and experience is necessary before the full wealth and complexity of a Catholic Action organisation becomes revealed. Pope Pius XI. was well aware of the difficulties in the past, and he was constantly asking and praying that *he “should be properly understood” then he spoke of Catholic Action. Each of us is in danger of twisting the Pope’s words to suit our own particular views and prejudices. We think of the things we would like to see done and describe these as Catholic Action. Even more often we think of the particular things we want done instead of thinking of the movement which is to do it. Catholic Action is a movement, an institution, an organisation, and one of the simplest definitions of a Catholic Action work is that it is “something done by a person las a member of an official Catholic Action movement set up by the Bishop.”


At any rate, Catholic Action is definitely not something which one can take up and handle efficiently at five minutes’ notice. This applies to the priest as well as to the layman. It is a different type of organisation from the older Catholic societies—much wider in its scope, using more modern methods and concerned with the penetration of the environment rather than with spasmodic “good deeds.” Moreover, each movement of Catholic Action tends to develop its own distinct technique and approach. The things that will interest young girls of seventeen are widely different from those which one must place before farmers or lawyers. Young workers are attracted by ideals which will not appeal directly to groupings of married women.

Yet the parish priest may have to deal with half a dozen different organisations, giving to the leaders of each a spiritual formation adapted to their own environment, advising them on the most suitable methods, warning them of pitfalls and taking a personal interest in the leaders.

It is not only a question of time for a priest who has already as much as he can handle, particularly under war conditions. It is not merely that he must give up more of his energy to the training of leaders of organisations which he has not hitherto had to consider. There is the point that the training of leaders, particularly the training of youth leaders, is a special study.

He is obliged to go deeply into their daily lives; to discover by patient enquiry the conditions in offices and factories, the popular types of amusement, the views on social affairs. He has to understand thoroughly the psychology of young people, to draw out what is best in them with patience and courage, and, instead of merely inculcating general principles, to be rigidly and constantly realist in his approach. The training of youth is a work for experts, and the priest is asked to make himself expert in half a dozen different directions. This he cannot achieve quickly.


For it should be insisted on that Catholic Action asks more of the priest than does any other Catholic body. With a confraternity or sodality, the priest has merely to attend regularly a general gathering and give an instruction. On the other hand, “Catholic Action,” as Pius XI. wrote, “says to each of its ecclesiastical assistants, in regard to the share Entrusted to each, ‘My lot is in Thy hands.”‘

Catholic Action does place in the hands of the priest its members to a very high degree. It says to him, in effect:

“Here are the pick of the people in the parish. You, as our Ecclesiastical Assistant, are, to some extent, a Master of Novices. It is for you to mould these people in the way of perfection,, to guide them so that they may have not only a Catholic mind, but a more intense knowledge and love of Our Lord, a vivid sense of their important apostolate, and a clear idea of how to make that apostolate a practical reality.” One cannot do better than quote Cardinal Pizzardo: “Given the nature of Catholic Action, it is.clear that the priest, in the exercise of his normal function as Assistant, is and really must be, the soul of his association, the inspiration of good enterprises, the source of zeal and the fashioner of consciences.”

The effects of such close association between the priest and the best elements of his laity must be of the highest value. In his Sunday sermons he has to appeal to a large and diffused audience and can use only general terms. In his discussions with his lay leaders in separate movements he can give them a more precise and practical formation exactly suited to the needs and difficulties of the members. What is even more important, he is able to make direct use of the enthusiasm and ability of his best parishioners and through them extend, to an unprecedented extent,, the influence which he can exert in the parish. Through them, he can reach corners of the parish which time and other duties normally prevent him from approaching. Each trained lay leader becomes, as it were, a bridge over which the priest can come to the people and the people can come to the priest.


All this, however, as we have said, cannot be achieved easily or without special preparation. For the priest of the future it is part of his normal functions to be a chaplain to Catholic Action movements. Already in many of the seminaries in Australia groups of students in their senior years have been meeting in order to prepare themselves for this new and difficult role. Groups of young priests have been coming together to discuss the problems of spiritual formation for their lay collaboration. They have been writing and publishing their own special bulletins for this purpose. Yet even more than this is required.

The Australian Bishops’ Committee on Catholic Action in its recent statement declared: “We have been particularly gratified to notice the attention which has been given in recent years in the ecclesiastical seminaries to the instruction of students for the priesthood in the principles of Catholic Action.” Now the appointment of a special professor of Catholic Action will provide a systematic and permanent means of carrying out the wishes of the Holy Father and of the Bishops.

The experience of three decades of Catholic Action in Europe and America is available to us in Australia. There is a wealth of splendid literature on the whole great question of the means by which the priest may set alight the fire of apostolic enthusiasm in the hearts of Catholic men and women. It will now be possible to tap these rich resources more fully.

The new professor, Rev. C. Mayne, S.J., has not only studied deeply the authorities who have spoken and written about this vast subject, but has, himself, been closely in touch for some years with the lay leaders of the various Catholic Action movements throughout Australia. He comes to his new position with already practical experience in the running of groups of leaders and of movements, and is thus thoroughly aware of the actual problems which young priests will have to encounter in this field.

VERY REV. W. P. HACKETT, S.J., Ecclesiastical Assistant, National Secretariat of Catholic Action


Chair of Catholic Action at Corpus Christi (Advocate (Melbourne, Vic. : 1868 – 1954), Thursday 2 April 1942, page 17) (Trove)

Bishops’ Statement on Catholic Action

The Episcopal Committee on Catholic Action—his Grace the Archbishop of Melbourne, Most Rer. D. Mannix, D.D., president; his Grace the Archbishop of Hobait, Most Rev. J. D. Simonds, D.D., secretary; and his Lordship the Bishop of Mail-land, Most Rev. E. Gleeson, D.D.—following its fourth meeting has authorised the publication of the following statement.

AT the general meeting of the Bishops of Australia and New Zealand which was held in Sydney on September 13, 1937, an Episcopal Committee was appointed to undertake the work of stimulating and directing the work of Catholic Action throughout Australia and New Zealand for a period of five years. At the first meeting of the committee, which was held in Melbourne on November 3, 1937, it was decided to set up a National Secretariat of Catholic Action which would accept the direction of the Episcopal Committee in co-ordinating existing organisations of Catholic Action and assisting each diocese to form the necessary diocesan groups as units of a National Movement of Catholic Action. Following its fourth meeting, the Episcopal Committee wishes to indicate to the Hierarchy the main lines upon which the National work has been undertaken, and to suggest some general directions in which the National body should be guided to function.

It was realised from the beginning that progress in the early stages would be slow, and that spectacular results could not be expected. The leaders of Catholic Action have wisely refused to set up extensive and grand organisations within a short time. They have preferred to concentrate on the arduous task of training leaders in every walk of life, so that the new movement would be imbued from the start with the right spirit and would use the soundest methods, tested and proved in other countries and carefully adapted to our own needs. They have realised that the layman must be formed in the spirit of Christ, must study well the means he is to employ, and know thoroughly the environment he. is to penetrate and transform before he can act effectively on it.


The task of the lay movement in Australia is made particularly difficult by the huge distances which separate our main centres of life. It is not as easy here as it is in more densely populated lands to organise conferences or communicate ideas; nor in a country which has just passed from the missionary stage are there always to spare for this new work those priests whose inspiration and guidance are so essential.

The coming of the war itself, which has taken off so many men for military and patriotic service, has further held up development. Nevertheless, no one who has seen the work of the last three years can fail to be deeply gratified at what has been accomplished. We rejoice at the great, though almost imperceptible, changes which have come over the Catholic life of this country, at the vigorous and self-sacrificing spirit being manifested everywhere and among all, particularly among our young men and girls.


In the beginning it was not possible to do more than organise discussion groups for people who were ready to meet together with the intention of deepening their own spiritual lives and informing themselves on the Catholic attitude to the main questions of the day. Gradually, these groups are being changed into groups of leaders, who are prepared to go out and gather the mass of people of their own kind into strong and comprehensive movements. Much excellent literature has now been compiled for their use in the form of handbooks and programmes, pamphlets and special books, which set out the practical means for creating and maintaining these movements. To be commended are the courage and patience of those who have pioneered •in these groups, who have been prepared to experiment and thus discover the most efficient methods.


We approve also the line which has been followed by the National Secretariat in the development of the Catholic Action movements—namely, that of specialisation. This policy—repeatedly insisted on by the late Holy Father—was confirmed by his successor, the present Pontiff, Pius XI., in his first public pronouncement on Catholic Action: “For the apostle, to be listened to, must speak, not to representatives of some abstract humanity which would belong to all countries, to all times; and all conditions, but to a particular group of one’s own kind, in a particular country, at a particular level of the social hierarchy. That is one of the golden rules traced by the ever-lamented Pontiff who was the great promoter of Catholic Action, and who remains now its invisible inspirer.”

Thus the principle is itself beyond doubt or argument, though the exact limits and scope of specialised bodies have to be worked out in Australia and New Zealand according to our own conditions.

It is gratifying to see the progress that has been already made along those lines, and how organisations of farmers, university students, school children, married women, professional men and women, have already developed in this way. Thus each section of the community addresses itself to people of its own kind. This policy—by which trained apostles within different sections of the community dedicate themselves to the transformation of their own particular environment—is the one which promises most for the restoration of Australia to Christ.


Catholic Action is not a mere aggregation of individual activities, but a single organisation which comes into existence and operates under the direction of the Bishop. Those who wish to join in this grand apostolate must, therefore, become members of diocesan organisations established directly by the Bishop and must play their part according to plans designed by him. It is obvious that unless the labours of individuals are consolidated by being linked up in diocesan and, finally, national movements, they will achieve little. The conditions of Australian life to which we have referred require that local organisations should receive the aid and advice that only a national office can provide, that they should have available the programmes drawn up by experienced persons, and that they should join-in the great campaigns of the National Movement. This will provide a feeling of confidence, a concerted force, a conquering spirit and a series of beneficial services that are quite essential for success.


Consequently, we have given our approval to the National Catholic Rural Movement as the official specialised organisation for the Catholic rural community. His Lordship the Bishop of Wagga Wagga (Most Rev. F. A. Henschke) has been appointed Episcopal Chairman of the Rural Movement, signalising the incorporation of this movement of Catholic Action with the official apostolic mission of the Church in Australia.

We urge the formation as soon as possible of a National Movement for Catholic girls. We hope that similar procedure will be followed in due time for young workers, for adult workers, for students, for married women and for groupings of professional men and women.


The adoption of these principles will -enable our organisations to grow according to a clear and well-considered plan. Such a plan has been, already drawn up by the National Secretariat of Catholic Action, Its adoption will prevent duplication, unnecessary competition and waste of effort.

It is based on the very sound principle that, in order to prevent many evils and to give that strength and unity which are so necessary to-day, there should be only one large organisation for the mass of Catholics in any milieu.

We recommend all Catholic organisations which desire to be associated with Catholic Action to take this plan into serious consideration and to consult the diocesan authorities when preparing new developments within their own ranks.

It is most desirable, also, that the diocesan authorities in turn should not commit themselves to policies which may have a bearing on national issues, without first taking counsel with the National Secretariat—the administrative organ of the Episcopal Committee —which is in a position to know the mind of the Episcopal Committee. The national unity and strength which we all desire can only be attained if all agree, loyally to co-operate in the national plan, the preparation and supervision of which is one of the most valuable functions of the National Secretariat.


This co-ordination is all the more desirable because of the very nature of the problem which Catholic Action is designed to meet. It is nothing less than the complete rebuilding and reform of modern society; not a mere tinkering with details, not the filling in of occasional gaps. It includes in its scope almost all modern issues except those pertaining to purely economic or purely- political affairs. It involves, as the late Holy Father said, not only a change of individuals, but a change of the whole environment in which individuals live—in effect, the making of a new world whose traditions and institutions will be based on Christian teaching.

This magnificent and inspiring programme will not be achieved by isolated and haphazard efforts, however noble and energetic, but only by the drawing together of these changed individuals into collective and disciplined mass movements of Christians combining their prayers, their talents and their actions towards the restoration of all things in Christ. The Supreme Pontiffs, clearly foreseeing the calamities which now have come upon society, have established in Catholic Action a spirit and a technique particularly adapted to bring about this reform of men and of institutions.


It is scarcely necessary to remind Catholics that Catholic Action—especially in these times when political passions have grown so fierce—must stand clearly apart from all politics. Consequently, it is undesirable that leaders in Catholic Action should also act as leaders in political movements, though they will retain, of course, the normal rights of citizens to belong as ordinary members to such political parties. Great care should be taken that local political matters be not discussed at meetings of Catholic Action bodies and that the movement be not used in any way for the support of political parties.


Attention is called to the valuable results that would follow from the more systematic organisation of the sale and distribution of Catholic literature. If efficient press units are established in parishes for this end they will not only give considerable assistance to the Catholic press, but will also be able to place popularly-written and inexpensive pamphlets in the hands of Catholics and non-Catholics alike. The National Secretariat is now able to supply detailed information on the practical organisation of press units to those who wish to undertake this valuable apostolic work.


We are pleased to see the generous collaboration of Catholic Action with other Catholic organisations, whether they be pious, charitable or. socioeconomic. It is not the wish or the intention of Catholic Action to supersede existing Catholic bodies or to take dver work which they are performing satisfactorily, but rather to assist and support them in every way. In turn, these other bodies should do all in their power (as auxiliary societies) to further the growth of Catholic Action and collaborate in its campaigns.

Moreover, those auxiliary bodies should not enter into competition with Catholic Action by adding to their present activities new works of a kind that fall within the sphere of Catholic Action. They should, rather, seek to carry out more perfectly the purpose for which they were originally formed, and by which they can be of great value to the Church.


We remind Catholic Actionists that their work is not mainly for themselves. The fact that they are seeking their own sanctification is assumed. Catholic Action does not exist merely for those who are convinced Catholics; rather, its main purpose is to enable those whose faith is already firm to assist those who, under the pressure of the pagan environment in which they dwell,” are inclined to be led astray. Thus, certain restrictions on membership, which are necessary in other Catholic societies, are not so advisable in Catholic Action, which must be able to attract to its ranks many who would not readily accept heavy religious obligations.

However necessary this may be for the ordinary members of such movements, it is to be constantly emphasised that the most careful attention must be given to the sound preparation of those who are chosen to lead and direct these movements and to the maintenance of a lofty standard of energy and sacrifice in the groups or committees of such leaders.


We call on the clergy, on whom falls particularly the essential task of the formation of lay apostles, to renew their valuable aid to this work. We recall the words of his Holiness Pope Pius XI., addressed to them:

“It is, therefore, your chief duty, Venerable Brethren, and that of your clergy, to seek diligently, to select prudently and train fittingly these lay apostles.”

And again:

“Catholic Action, although of its nature a work for the laity, can never begin, nor prosper, nor produce its proper fruits, without the assiduous and diligent activity of the priests.”

Already we have received with joy accounts of the self-sacrificing labours of numerous priests, who, though already burdened with pastoral duties, have given themselves to this necessary and fruitful task. We have been particularly gratified to notice the attention which has been given in recent years in the ecclesiastical seminaries to the instruction of students for the priesthood In the principles of Catholic Action. The groups of chaplains who meet together regularly in many places are building a body of information which will be most valuable to themselves and their lay collaborators. For only the priest can inspire the leaders of Catholic Action with that apostolic zeal, that sense of vocation and responsibility which must animate all their actions. The purpose of all such formation must be to produce true leaders and apostles—enthusiastic, energetic people with an attractive personality, able to use their own judgment in a crisis, capable of controlling and administering their own groups and movements, in obedience to their Bishops and in close collaboration with the clergy.


In conclusion, we give our blessing to those valiant soldiers of Christ who have already laboured so courageously for the establishment of His kingdom on earth. We confidently look forward to a most glorious harvest from the seed which they have sown. We renew our appeal to all the laity to take their proper place in Catholic Action, and thus to extend and support those magnificent projects the success of which is of such importance for the Church and for our fellow-citizens.


Archbishop of Hobart. August. 23, 1941.

Bishops’ Statement on Catholic Action (Advocate (Melbourne, Vic. : 1868 – 1954), Thursday 4 September 1941, page 25)(Trove)

Catholic Action Plans

Dr. Simonds Secretary of National Body

HOBART, Friday.

The formation of the National Secretariat of Catholic Action in Australia, with the Archbishop of Hobart (Most Rev. Justin D. Simonds) as national secretary, is officially announced by “The Standard,” published yesterday. Central offices have been secured in Melbourne, and his Grace states that Australia had at last embarked on a national movement of Catholic action to defend, expand, and consolidate the Kingdom of Christ in the land. During the past few weeks, states “The Standard,” Archbishop Simonds has been gathering information concerning, the already existing Catholic action movements throughout Australia.

Writing from St. Mary’s Cathedral, his Grace states that several years had passed since the Holy Father issued a call to the. entire world, inviting the laity to insist in the apostolate of Catholic action, the exalted aim of which was to re-establish in society that Christian concept of life which modern pagan forces were openly seeking to destroy. Isolated and inco-ordinate efforts had been made in several dioceses of Australia to respond to the Holy Father’s call, but now the movement was organised on a national basis.

All would he enlisted in the crusade, the letter states, but the specialised direct action would be taken by coordinated groups of organised Catholics, who would endeavour to spread the influence of Christ’s principles ,in the particular environment in which they lived and moved. As the purpose of Catholic action was to supiernaturalise the entire social body, there must be as many groups working for Catholic action as there were spheres of human interest and endeavour. In each sphere there would be a group of earnest, militant, and specially trained Catholics, who would make a special study of the ideals of Christianity, with particular reference to their bearing upon the environment in which they lived, and endeavour to have these ideals accepted and practised by all those who belonged to their particular environment. The leadership and direction of these groups would be exercised in accordance with the plan laid down by the Hierarchy, and under its general provision.

A sub-committee of three members of the Hierarchy had been elected to direct the national organisation on behalf of the Australian Hierarchy. The Archbishop of Melbourne (Dr. Mannix) was president, Archbishop Simonds secretary, and the other member was the Bishop of Maitland. The committee had secured the services of Rev. W. Keane, S.J., distinguished philosopher, and an authority on the social problems of the day, who would act as ecclesiastical assistant to the national secretariat. Messrs. F. K. Maher, M.A. LL.B., and B.A., Santamaria, M.A., LL.B., were officials of the lay secretariat.


Catholic Action Plans (Examiner (Launceston, Tas. : 1900 – 1954), Saturday 22 January 1938, page 6) (Trove)