Widespread Growth of Australian Y.C.W.

Second Annual Conference Reveals Remarkable Progress

THE success of this conference has exceeded my most optimistic anticipations,” said the Episcopal Chairman of the Young Christian Workers’ Movement, his Grace the Most Rev. Dr. J. D. Simonds, in his concluding address to those present at the 1945 Australian Y.CAV. National Conference.

This conference — the second annual conference of the Australian Y.C.W. chaplains and leaders—was held in Brisbane, at the kind invitation of the Archbishop of Brisbane (Most Rev. Dr. J. Duhig), from August 21 to 24. The conference was held in the main hall of All Hallows’ Convent, Brisbane.


The attendance of priests and Y.C.W. leaders was impressive. The 100 leaders and 60 priests present were representative of the following 13 dioceses of Australia—Cairns, Townsville, Rockhampton, Toowoomba, Brisbane, Armidale, Maitland, Sydney, Wagga, Sandhurst, Melbourne, Ballarat and Port Augusta.


Although the conference occupied only three days (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) the whole week was devoted to special Y.C.W. activity. Features were:

Sunday, August 19.—One-day retreat for Y.C.W. leaders at the Marist Fathers’ Monastery, Ashgrove. 100 leaders made the retreat, which was splendidly conducted by Rev. V. Arthur, of St. Michael’s, North Melbourne.

Archbishop’s Welcome to Y.C.W. Visitors.—On Monday night in the Brisbane Leader Hall, his Grace the Most Rev. J. Duhig, publicly welcomed Dr. Simonds, the visiting clergy and Y.C.W. leaders to Brisbane. In heartily welcoming the visitors, Dr. Duhig said here in Australia both the nation and the Church needed youth, and he was sure that- youth would not fail them.

He had seen the Y.C.W. Movement and leaders in action in Melbourne and had been impressed. He felt sure the conference would be a landmark in the history of the Church in Australia. Dr. Duhig was eloquently supported by Mgr. English (Vicar General) and Justices N. Macrossan and E. A. Douglas. Dr. Simonds, Rev. F. Lombard (chaplain, Melbourne Y.C.W.), Frank’ McCann (National Secretary of the Y.C.W.) and Frank McClean (Townsville Y.C.W. President) responded on behalf of the visitors. During his address, Dr. Simonds gave an inspiring explanation of Catholic Action and of .the Y.C.W. Movement’s part in it. He pointed out that Catholic Action was as old as the Church. “It was not the Popes,” he said, “who opened the priesthood to the laity—it was Christ. The Popes have merely reminded us of that fact. The Y.C.W. must begin in the parishes; first with small numbers of leaders who would be trained in the technique of the movement. The Y.C.W. was an apostolic movement—an official sharing in the Bishop’s apostolate.”


Holy Mass was celebrated by Rev. F. W. Lombard in All Hallows’ Hall at 9.30 a.m. on Tuesday, August 21, to mark the opening of the conference. At the conclusion of Mass Dr. Simonds, who presided throughout the conference, delivered his opening address. Congratulating priests and leaders on the zeal which had brought them to Brisbane for this important conference, Dr. Simonds also reminded them that the Sacrament of Baptism enabled us to share in the life of Christ and therefore in the priesthood of Christ. Confirmation added to this sharing in the priesthood of Christ.

The priests and leaders had separate conferences on the Tuesday. The following papers were read to the priests: “The Choice of Leaders,” by Rev. R. Walton (Toowoomba); “Spiritual Formation,” by Rev. D. J. Stewart (Townsville); “The Gospel Meditation,” by Rev. A. Tynan (Brisbane).

The leaders heard and discussed these papers: “Leaders’ Group Organisation,” John Maguire (Camberwell); “General Branch Organisation,” Ted Long (Melbourne); “Diocesan and National Control,” Frank McCann (National Secretary). On Wednesday and Thursday, priests and leaders met in. general conference and the following papers were submitted to them: “Contact and Influence,” by Don McKenna (Brisbane president); “The General Enquiry,” by Ted Long (Melbourne secretary); “Services,” by Frank McCann (national secretary); “Vocational Groups,” by Rev. J. Mclnerney (Melbourne); “Rehabilitation,” by Rev. F. W. Lombard (Melbourne Diocesan Chaplain). Each paper was followed by discussions among small groups and in this way many useful suggestions were forthcoming when group leaders reported back to the general assembly. The conference was brought to a close with a summary of the proceedings by Dr. Simonds. His Grace thanked everyone present for their zealous co-operation and the hard work they had put into the conference. He also expressed pleasure at the outstanding success of the conference, which had exceeded his most optimistic anticipations.


Thursday afternoon and Friday were devoted to a meeting of the Provisional National Committee. The committee, which is only a provisional one, is, for the present, appointed by the Episcopal Chairman and consists of representatives from each diocese where the Y.C.W. is established. The national secretary’s report revealed the continuous growth and development of the movement throughout Australia. The movement now has groups in 20 Catholic dioceses in Australia; has a membership of ten thousand and can claim 1000 leaders partly or fully trained. Reports were submitted by representatives of other dioceses represented, and they showed favourable progress.

A large agenda was gone through by the committee on a variety of items, including the 1946 national programme for the Y.C.W.; consolidation of leadership training; extension of services; assistance in industry and rehabilitation; inter-diocesan relationships and the next annual conference. At the conclusion of the meeting a vote of thanks to his Grace Dr. Simonds for his invaluable service as chairman of the conference and committee was carried with warm acclamation, on the motion of Rev. D. J. Stewart (Townsville), seconded by Ted Long (Melbourne).


On the Thursday night, 300 members of the Y.C.W. and N.C.G.M. of Brisbane attended a rally which commenced with devotions and Pontifical Benediction in the Holy Name Crypt, Brisbane. His Grace Dr. Duhig addressed the youth and called on them to accept the challenge to serve God gloriously in and through their youth. Later, the youth were entertained in the Leader Hall by a showing of a Melbourne Y.C.W. film and a short concert programme.

It can be safely said that the Y.C.W. representatives came to Brisbane for the definite purpose of helping to propagate the movement in Australia, Many priests and leaders had come at heavy personal sacrifice; they did it willingly that they might assist the conference—contribute to it what they could and take from it what would help them in the work of their apostolate.

Leaders who had met previously only in correspondence are now personal friends, brought closer together in their common work of forming a new youth to build a new Australia. By now, the great and historic gathering at Brisbane has dispersed and the leaders who were there are back at their normal daily work again, a work in which they will live and spread Christ.

Most Rev. J. D. Simonds, D.D., Ph.D., Episcopal Chairman of Y.C.W., with delegates to the National Conference of the movement, recently held at Brisbane.


Widespread Growth of Australian Y.C.W. (Advocate, Wednesday 5 September 1945, page 8) (Trove)

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) https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/146385884