Impressive Spectacle In Paris.
“MANY times indeed, have I mounted the pulpit in Notre Dame; many times have I seen affecting spectacles in its naves; but I make bold to say that never have I seen a finer one.”
Such were the words pronounced by His Eminence Jean Cardinal Verdier, Archbishop of Paris, in the course of a ceremony when, to use the Cardinal’s own words, “French Jocism was baptized.”
By “Jocism” is meant the spirit of the organisation of the young Christian workers, ” La Jeunesse Ouvriere Chretienne,” familiarly known in French-speaking countries as the “JOC.” The term Jociste is regularly used to describe members of the association.
The first national congress of the JOC, just held at Paris, proved most successful. About 8,000 delegates from all the cities and many small towns, the majority of them factory employees, came to the Capital for the congress.
Special Groups Formed.
For some years there functioned in France an organisation of young Catholics known as la Jeunesse Catholique Francaise. In order to improve its methods of apostleship and organisation, it was decided to organise specialised movements for industrial workers, farmers, students and seamen.
Perhaps because, unfortunately, they must live in factory neighborhoods, too many workers are ignorant of their faith. Nevertheless, the Jocistes give every evidence of apostolic zeal and high courage.
Without neglecting for a moment the defence of their material interests and the vindication of their group, they devote themselves to combating the irreligion about them, to dispel hostile prejudices, to defend their comrades against the injustices and the attacks and brutalities which are frequently encountered in the shops.
Methods to be used to exercise a beneficent influence in the factory, workshop and office were the subject of discussion at the congress. Should Jocistes work individually and discreetly? Would it be better to work in unison, that is by means of an avowed, official existence of a group in each factory exercising action in common?
The latter plan a priori, seemed more appealing. All the members of the group would co-operate, would assist one another, reciprocally strengthening their action. But in discussion it was brought out that opposing elements would find it easier to take offence at collective action and that certain employers, even among Catholics, would be disturbed over collective activities and would demand their cessation.
It was decided that the method followed should be determined by individual or particular circumstances, since it was felt important that neither fellow-workers nor employers be offended. The essential point, in either event, it was decided, is that members of the JOC should always be the best of workers, obliging and considerate of their comrades.
Even though Jocistes act individually in the shop, it was pointed out that the members in the same line of work and in the same parish should meet frequently for the purpose of mutual encouragement and advice.
Another interesting session was devoted to the consideration of modes of action for a Jociste group reorganised in an industrial community. The kinds of service members can render to their parish were discussed also.
Attendance at all the sessions was so large that finally it was decided to hold duplicate sessions and other halls were secured to meet the need. The largest auditorium in Paris, at the Trocadero, could not accommodate all those who wished to attend the closing session. About 2,500 youths had to go to the basement of a neighboring church, where the speakers came to them after addressing the assembly at the Trocadero.
Besides the French Jocistes, the congress was attended by members of the Catholic Action organizations, directors of – the Christian labor unions, and representatives oi the Belgian, Spanish and Swiss Jocistes.
The founder of the Belgian organisation, Canon Cardijn, delivered a particularly stirring address.
“I predict for you the conquest of the working class,” he declared. “It is jrou who will accomplish this. For
you are the real revolution, not that administered with the blows of cudgels, but the revolution of souls, not that which destroys, but that which builds.
French Jocism Baptised (Southern Cross, Friday 8 February 1935, page 12) (Trove)