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)