Restoring All Things—A Guide to Catholic Action

The World Scene of the Christian Apostolate

WHEN an idea takes to itself a body, the result is a revolution.” These striking words of that strange French genius, Charles Peguy, open the introduction of Sheed and Ward’s eagerly-awaited book on Catholic Action, “Restoring All Things,” edited by Rev. Fr. J. Fitzsimons and Australia’s own Paul McGuire. The terms of reference are clear and explicit. “It is not a theoretical treatise; there are already many authoritative works on this subject: the books of Mgr. Civardi, of Mgr. Guerry, of Fr. Lelotte, the collected documents of the Pope . . . and books and pamphlets by the various specialised movements in Europe. Rather is it an invitation to action. To those who wish to do something it says: This is what other people are doing and why they are doing it. Go thou and do likewise.”

The dust cover prepares the reader with a fourfold division of contents:

I. The Governing Elements of Catholic Action:— The Mystical Body, by the Regent of the Dominican House of Studies, Lille. The Liturgy, by Dom Gaspar Lefebvre, O.S.B. The Priest in Catholic Action, by Canon P. Glorieux.

II. National Organisations (Belgium, France, Italy).

III. Group Methods in Four Typical Organisations: Jeunesse Ouvriere Chretienne, L.O.C., Chretienne Bourgeoisie, The Grail.

IV. Formation for Catholic Action, by Paul McGuire.

Inside, however, the original plan has been slightly modified, and a highly informative” and encouraging survey included on “The World Scene of Gatholic Action.” Further, two practical appendices have been added, one on the “Liturgy and Catholic Action,” drawn up by Dom B. McElligott, and approved by Cardinals Pizzardo and Hinsley, and another on “Preparation for Catholic Action in Schools,” as outlined for the Archdiocese of Calcutta.

* * *

The book moves heavily through the first three chapters, then catches fire as the world scene of the new crusade opens out before the reader. The opening chapter, we think, is unfortunate; an excellent study for a theological review, but by no means a treatment of Catholic Action and the Mystical Body suitable for lay formation. The doctrine of the Mystical Body is taken for granted, and Fr. Chenu, O.P., discusses the social aspect of human society, the Mystical Body as the social inspiration of the Christian community, and, finally, Catholic Action. Theologians will read with questioning surprise these words of Fr. Chenu: . . on the whole, one cannot deny the immense benefits of the socialisation of human resources and activity . . . the person finds a greater and more steady opportunity of progress in a more general socialisation of material and spiritual wealth.” Unfortunately, Fr. Chenu does not define his “socialisation.” Suoh statements are certainly dangerous for the untrained youths of Catholic Action groups. One or two paragraphs in this section suffer from bad translation from the French, and are virtually meaningless. However, Fr. Chenu’s contribution is worth while if only for the following criticism of Catholic tactics in the past:

There was once a time when the Christian recoiled before the magnitude of these social phenomena, especially those of the world of labour, wherein machinism had rendered more sensible and more pressing this new collectivism; and so they withdrew into a fearful seclusion. . . . For a long time, far too long, magnificent apostolic zeal was spent in “protecting” the Christian from his milieu, and in creating for him an artificicl milieu, where he could take refuge, and at last live a Christian life, in a closed group far from pagan and perverse influences. At some given moment this was, perhaps, the inevitable last resource, but its strict empiricism would lead us to a Christianity of exiles, cut off from life, from the realities of their daily life, from their status and classes; to a Christianity without grip or audacity, to a Christianity which was disincarnated, that is to say without incarnation, abandoning the condemned and confounded mass of paganised humanity to its misery. This was more than an error of tactics; it was a structural fault, because it was an error of doctrine.

The reason why this attitude was an error of tactics and an error of doctrine is revealed in the following chapter on “Catholic Action and the Liturgy,” by Dom G. Lefebvre. The title is slightly misleading, for this section is really a detailed study of the theological basis of Catholic Action, running to over thirty pages. The author explains the inner life of the Mystical Body and the place of the Sacraments and the Liturgy in the growth of the lay apostolate. In the Christian liturgy the laity participate in the priesthood of Christ through the Hierarchy. In Catholic Action the laity participate in the apostolate of Christ through the Hierarchy. Both are essential manifestations of the same divine life which Christ our – Lord lives on earth in His Mystical Body. This chapter should be carefully explained and elaborated by priest-chaplains for the leaders of Catholic Action groups. Canon Glorieux, of the University of Lille, editor of the “Notes Pastorale Jociste,” official organ of the chaplains of French Catholic Action, contributes the chapter on “The Priest and Catholic Action.” The author quotes the words of the late Holy Father to the Bishops of the Argentine: “Catholic Action, though it is of its very nature the work of the laity, can neither begin nor prosper nor bear any special fruit without the assiduous and diligent activity of the priest.” He then gently indicates several mistakes to be avoided, and explains the function and approach of the priest in the formation of Catholic Actionists.

* * * *

Over half the book is a survey of what is actually being done in the field of Catholic Action throughout the world.

Nowhere yet has it achieved its mature forms. It is in process of formation, of development. It is not a piece of machinery which can be erected here, there and anywhere by a process of manufacture, to the design of a blueprint. Catholic Action belongs to life. It is a thing that grows. What is growing is a new community, a new society, a Christian society. . . . In some places and amongst some peoples it is more advanced: it grows faster than amongst others Each country, each milieu, each local group, must modify its methods and ultimately shape its technique and its organisations according to its needs, its native’ temperament and tradition, its human climate.

The world scene of Catholic Action reveals considerable local variations within the official framework, but hardly anywhere has a completed structure as yet appeared. Catholic Action, however, is definitely in being—in Poland, Peru, China, Argentine, Chile, India, Canada, South Africa, Ceylon, Uganda, West Africa, French North Africa, Jugoslavia, Hungary, Switzerland, Roumania (the first example of Byzantine Catholic Action), Germany, the United States, England, Ireland, Spain, Belgium, Italy, France, and Australia (to which twenty lines are devoted by the editors). Special chapters are given to Catholic Action in Italy, Belgium and France, because these countries have developed more mature forms, especially in the sphere of specialisation.

The principle of specialisation . . . is implied in the most elementary forms of Catholic Action. . . . Further, the Holy Father has indicated the need for specialisation according to vocation, when he has said that the apostle to the working man must be the working man, to the employer the employer. This is not an emphasis upon differences in economic and social status. It does not confirm class-divisions. It recognises the fact of these differences and its influence in the work of conversion, and ft recalls to each man his responsibility to those about him. The employer has no familiar understanding of the worker’s milieu, and he has neither the opportunity nor the experience to make a successful apostolate of it. Similarly, the worker is hardly likely to bring Christ to the employers. He is not himself one of them. The underlying principle of specialisation is this: if the world is to be won for Christ, then each one of us must strive to win his own little world, the world of his daily communications and intercourse. . . . So far from this specialised action confirming class distinctions, it is, in fact, the one way to overcome them: for as each class grows in knowledge and understanding of a Faith made common to all classes, so the common obligations are stressed and enforced with common sanctions. Catholic Action is theologically based on the doctrine of the Mystical Body: we are members, one of another. It is only in the realisation of that transcendent fellowship that the true social unity can be achieved. For the diversity of men, diversity of methods; but it is a variety in unity.

The chapter on Italy is a short history of the Catholic Revival, a story of persecution and struggle, of violent opposition and undaunted courage. The reforms of Pius X. and Pius XI. are outlined, and the conflict between the Fascist Government and Catholic Action briefly described. The section concludes with extracts from the statutes of Italian Catholic Action. The chapters on Belgium and France make fascinating reading, and the development of Catholic Action in these lands contains valuable lessons for Australia. Here the rise and growth of the Jocist movement, which the late Pope called authentic Catholic Action and the finished article, is traced to its full flowering in our own day. The spirit and methods of the J.O.C. have been described time and again in the pages of “The Advocate.” But the present book supplies in English a complete history, with a description of the Inquiry Method for the specialised formation of militants in particular environments. The concluding chapter on “Formation Technique,” by Paul McGuire, leaves little to be desired. It is clear, practical and already familiar to Australians who heard Mr. McGuire’s lectures last year, or who have read his articles in “The Advocate.”

There are no real conclusions to be drawn from the foregoing chapters, write the editors, apart from an insistence that movements and organisations have been described to illustrate the forms which Catholic Action may take, and has taken, in different countries. It is of the essence of the lay apostolate that it is supple and flexible, in which nothing vivifies more than the spirit, and nothing is more deadly than ready-made forms. . . . There can be no question of fixing duties and penalties where everything depends on circumstances, but could there be more solemn words, fitting words with which to conclude, than those of our (late) Holy Father, the Pope of Catholic Action: “Catholic Action is a function of the pastoral ministry, and, therefore, so bound up with Christian life that whatever assists it or hinders it is a definite assistance or a violation of the rights of the Church and of souls”?

Sheed and Ward have done a service to the English-speaking world in the publication of this book, and, although it bears traces of hasty assembling, contains many needless repetitions, and is without an index, it will be for long an invaluable handbook for priests and the lay leaders of Catholic Action.


Restoring All Things—A Guide to Catholic Action (Advocate (Melbourne, Vic. : 1868 – 1954), Thursday 6 April 1939, page 11) (Trove)

JOC and the Workers’ Apostolate

In this article, Mr. Paul McGuire concludes his study of Jocism with a description of its study group technique. Jocist study circles meet once a week. The priest, as assistant, has ultimately responsibility, but to train members in initiative and form them into apostles of their milieu, the officers of the groups are themselves all working boys or girls who are militants.

EACH meeting reviews the work of the last, the programme then set, the jobs since attempted. How did this or that succeed? What do we do next? What have we done this week to imitate Christ, in our homes, at work, in the street? What ways exactly? (JOC is always insisting on precise statement.) Did we make friends? Give a helping hand? Is there any lad we know well who will help us to keep an eye on the youngsters fresh from school, to talk to the other chaps, to help people, to keep conversations clean? Will he help in propaganda? Could he and I form an A.S.U. (Active Service Unit), the’ very front-line of Jocist attack in the factories and the streets and the playing fields and the billiard halls?

The need for co-operation for social action, is constantly stressed. Get a comrade. Build a group. Do a job for your fellows. Speak up for the rest to the factory inspectors, get on the job in your trades union, act for the rest, if necessary, in dealing with your employers. Isn’t it necessary that the workers should be properly organised and led? Isn’t it right that Christian ideas should govern them in their demands? The milieu must be changed. It can only be changed if workers understand the real needs and interests of their class, and work together. We workers must change the milieu. In what ways are we fit to do it? We are fit to do it because we are Christian, organised workers.


The agenda of a study circle is usually something like this: 1. Prayer or the Jocist Hymn (I have been making ardent efforts at an Eng-

lish version, but I am afraid it is still unfit for publication). 2. The Religious Enquiry, conducted in turn by militants, who prepare the matter for discussion. It usually consists of a reading from the New Testament and discussion. 3. Minutes, sometimes formal, sometimes (to vary the monotony) a paraphrase of the last proceedings given by a member. 4. Consideration of the jobs set at the previous meeting. What has succeeded? What failed? Why? What do we do next? 5. Report by each militant of the work done by him and his A.S.U. (A militant is commonly the centre of an Active Service Unit.) 6. What matter of national importance is before the public mind? Under this head, extraordinary contributions have been made by Jocist groups to labour and unemployment enquiries and the like. 7. Set the work for the coming week; selling of the “Young Worker,” contacts with this or that young worker, inquiries to be made for national reports, and so on. 8. The Prayer of JOC.


The study group is generally directed by a small committee of militants, two or three, who also make the plans for the general meetings. The militants are the core of the movement, and their word is Conquer; conquer the truths of life, the relation of oneself to God; conquer oneself, conquer spiritual aids, conquer others in the apostolate. The general meetings’ are held to win recruits, and for the ordinary run of fellows. The G.M. must always be a cheerful affair, and remarkable care is taken in planning it. It is held once a month, and invitations are issued to the boys or girls with whom contacts have been made. It is always held on a regular date and at a regular time. Jocists must not look like mere bunglers, their Handbook sternly states. Be definite, and do not play the fool. Settle a suitable date and time, and always stick to it. All the A.S.U.’s take some part in a G.M. One looks after games, another after a playlet perhaps, while another decorates the room. Every member of the study circle has a job to do for the G.M.


Each G.M. has its special theme, and the programme and the decorations are all planned as a whole to illustrate it. Hints are given in Jocist publications (did I mention that JOC publishes 15 reviews in Belgium, 17 in France?). Everything in the room contributes to the theme of the G.M., posters, pictorial graphs, inscriptions, streamers, booklets, newspapers and cuttings. For example, if the theme is the finance of the JOC, the treasurer would have graphs of the subscriptions, the money spent on young workers, the numbers of publications sold, outings arranged, charity given, and so on. Over all hangs the great shield of JOC. The Jocist is reminded to have care always for “good taste”; one must make the guests feel that this is a pleasant arrangement of things, that one would like the chairs in one’s own house arranged like these, and so forth.


A personal invitation is issued to the guest. Then an attractive card is sent out. Then a Jocist is sent to bring him to the meeting. If he should by any chance (which seems inconceivable) escape, don’t despair. Invite .him again and again, until he does come. As Jocists arrive at G.M,. they pay their subs., to encourage the others. And their savings bank is open, to encourage the others, too, no doubt. All the places have been carefully prepared. Even the arrangement of chairs is important. The chairman must rise to address the meeting. It helps to increase his effect of leadership. Militants must scatter through the audience and make the guests at home, talk to them, gather impressions from them.

Everything said and done should drive in some Jocist idea. The meeting again starts with the hymn, and then someone gives a “catchy” resume of the last meeting. The secretary notes those present. Absentees are to be looked up by militants. Then items of local news are read; letters from Jocists in the army, from the sick, from members absent who have something of interest to report. There is comment on the news, on sport, politics, even on murders and suicides, comment informed by the Jocist idea. Articles from the “Young Worker” or from some other Catholic paper are discussed. And then the principal theme of the meeting is raised. Points for discussion here will probably have been suggested by the “A.S.U. Bulletin” of the month. After that, report is made of the work done during the month. “Action is the life’s blood of the Jocist movement.” How many papers have been sold, how many families visited, how many propaganda posters stuck up, how many books distributed, how many hikes arranged, and so on. This reporting is also designed to influence the guest. ENROLMENTS. Enrolments of new Jocists take place at the G.M.’s; and the occasion is made as impressive and solemn as possible. After the enrolments, the meeting is given to amusements, and here the Jocist is -especially required to make his meeting as lively and amusing as he can. Films are shown, chiefly documentary films, 16 mm. or 9.5 mm. Then there are competitions, games, riddles, crosswords; and even these have a Jocist bent. And there are songs. Most decidedly there are songs. The JOC sing-songs and their song-book are very celebrated indeed. Sometimes there is a playlet. Always, the effort is to get every boy engaged. If he knows a trick or plays the sax., ask him in. After the meeting, militants must see their guests home, and in good time, for “that wins their parents’ approval.” On the way home, of course, the militant drives in the points of the evening. He also carefully notes any criticisms which the guest may be ungracious enough to offer.


The chairman of a JOC section is always one of the boys or girls. But he must make special efforts. Like the militants (he himself is a militant of militants), he has his own handbook and review. It is interesting to observe the care with which JOC meets all its members’ needs. The chairman is instructed to keep a notebook. In it he must record a plan of his section, a map of its district, a list of dates and anniversaries and feasts of special interest to JOC; a list of workers known to be Jocists; a list of street canvassers for selling papers; details of the finances of his section; addresses, at home and work, with telephone numbers, of his Jocists. He must make notes for his committee meeting, his study circle, and his general meeting. He must keep a list of JOC’s special achievements and exploits. He must jot down ideas, news, notions, anything which may serve JOC.


The general organisation is superb. For instance, amongst its publications is a handbook for Jocist soldiers. When a boy is called to the colours, he receives his copy. Inside it is a postcard which may be torn off. As soon as the boy is ordered to a unit and a barracks, he fills in the card and drops it into the nearest letter-box. When he arrives, or shortly after, he has a letter from JOC headquarters to tell him what other Jocists have been sent to his unit or barracks. Jocist publications are all direct, terse, simple, and packed with sound sense. Its’ reviews, especially, are models of newspaper production. The staffs at headquarters are now very large, but all Jocists, all drawn from the workers. The organisation is financed by subscriptions and by the sale of its very exciting and very Catholic calendars.

JOC insists that its boys and girls understand their environments, the special problems and dangers of their fellows. It may sometimes be a risky business, but JOC is an apostolate. The priest cannot get at .the worker in the mill or the mine. It is the boy next to him who must save him. And he is doing it. Before JOC, an appalling percentage of the children who left Belgian Catholic schools for the industrial jobs were lost to the Church within a few months. Now the leakage has been practically stopped. JOC advances; because, again, in the words of the Holy Father, it is “an ideal form of Catholic Action.” If one could conceive every vocation organised as JOC is organising the young workers for the propagation of the Faith, if each Catholic doctor, lawyer, business man, author, agent, was an apostle to his fellows, we could change the world in a generation. As Fr. Kothen said the other day at Oxford: “The one means of combating Communism is to establish a spiritual Communism between souls in order to put them at the service of the Church, of society, of Our Lord, of God. The social problem will not be solved by a simple redistribution of goods. What is necessary is, much more profoundly, to socialise souls, so that hearts and minds may unite in the Mystical Body of Christ, in that vast association in which one is enabled to forget oneself, to go beyond one’s personal interest in order to seek the general good, to serve the common good. …”

Jocist meetings close with the Jocist Prayer; these articles may well close with it, too: Lord Jesus, I offer Thee my work, my struggles, my joys and all my sorrows of this day. Grant to me and to all my working brethren, to think like Thee, to work with Thee, to live in Thee. Help me to love Thee with all my heart and to serve Thee with all my strength. Thy Kingdom come in all our factories, workshops, offices, and in all our homes. Grant that the souls of the workers who to-day will be in danger remain in Thy grace, And to the souls of the workers who died on labour’s battlefield, give Thy eternal rest. Sacred Heart of Jesus, bless the JOC, Sacred Heart of Jesus, sanctify the JOC, Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy kingdom come through the JOC. Queen of Apostles, pray for us.

—Paul McGuire.


Formation for Catholic Action (Advocate (Melbourne, Vic. : 1868 – 1954), Thursday 7 October 1937, page 31

JOC and the Training of Militants

In my last article I gave some account of the “Jeunesse Ouvriere Chretienne,” JOC, Catholic Worker Youth. In July last it assembled 70,000 delegates from twenty different countries at its Paris Congress. The previous week, the Communist youth organisations had assembled only 20,000. JOC is the Catholic masses, Catholic working youth, on march. On the march for Christ. Who, seeing them, can doubt that the Church is meeting the challenge of the age? Here is Catholic Action in being. Here one can see what Catholic Action means.

IT is true, I think, that one can best describe Jocism by describing its methods; and that a plain account of the work in a new Jocist group will be of most use. Much of this article is drawn from the little textbook on how to start a Jocist study circle. (“Comments debuter dans un cercle d’etudes jociste,” 4th edition. JOC, 12 avenue Soeur-Rosalie, Place d’ltalie, Paris, 3e.) I am indebted also to notes made by Fr. Decan, C.P., of Holy Cross, Belfast, whose translation of the text is shortly to be published, I understand, by the Liverpool Council for Catholic Action.

JOC always begins by training a group of militants. As it is concerned with the milieu, the immediate environment of workers, it must train its militants to understand their environment. It starts, not with general principles, but from the actual conditions of the workers’ lives. It reverses, in brief, the normal process of education; but, then, it is an essentially realistic organisation, training apostles, and the apostolate is exercised from the very first.

To see the situation, to estimate it, weigh and judge it, and then to act in it . . . that is the Jocist principle. It expects its members to realise the urgency of the social crisis, to get down to brass tacks. Everything which suggests the classroom is banished. The milieu is the street, the home, the factory. “Something, however small, can always be done by individuals straight away. You can correct a wrong impression of the Catholic teaching of the Just Wage, or start a talk about something vital to the workers, or start to sing a clean song when the fellows sing a dirty one. . . .”

To see things as they are—that is the first job of a Jocist. And so a group may begin by making a map of its district and marking on it the working-class streets, the mills, the corners where the young workers gather in the evenings. And the study circle will begin with these questions:

What streets and houses of our district are working-class?

Where do our comrades stand about in winter and in summer?

Where do the fellows we know work?

What young workers do we know?

Could we get to know them better? How?


It will be seen at once that the questions, designed to objectify the situation of each boy or girl, also from the first suggest action. How can we get in touch with the fellows we knew at school? What are they up to? Where do they work? Are they practising Catholics?

The second meeting of a circle will come back on these questions:

What have we done since last meeting to improve our knowledge of the district?

Can we now mark the map with all the working-class streets and houses?

Have we got in touch with some of the comrades? Whom? If not, why not? Did we talk to them? What did we say? What did they say?

Are we interested in their lives? Do we show interest in the lives of our comrades?

Are there any young workers in our street or factory or shop who left school and started life only this year? Are they happy in their trades? How did they come to choose them? Because they were handy at the job, liked it, were physically fit for it? Or because they didn’t think much about it, took it only because there wasn’t a better job going?

Did their parents try to find them better jobs? Did they consult the teacher or the doctor? Did they consider the disadvantages of the trade its standing, security, moral environment?

Do you think the workers understand how important it is to prepare carefully for one’s job in life?

The point begins to appear. The boys are gradually forming judgments, from their observations of their own and their comrades’ lives. And from the judgments follow the suggestions for action.


What hours are worked in our town and shops and mills? How does this compare with other places?

What unemployment is there where we work? Do we know any unemployed? What could we do for them? Watch out for jobs? Show them the ropes in the matter of the dole and so on? How are we going to do it?

That is a great question always for the Jocist. How are we going to do it? The boys or girls thrash out the methods and approaches. If they fail once, they return to the issue next time—and next time, until they succeed.

Do we know any jobs injurious to the health of young workers? Why are they unhealthy? Are the hours too long, is the ventilation bad, are the fittings insanitary, are there conditions promoting immodesty?

What do we think of the conditions the young workers have to bear? What does JOC think of them? What does it say in your handbook?


The worker is not only a worker; he has hours of leisure. And so the questions continue:

Do the young workers stay much at home in their leisure? Do they help their parents? Work for their own betterment? Do they garden? Practise handicrafts?

If not, what do they mostly do? Play games? Pubs? Betting shops? Card schools? Pictures? Dance halls?

What do you think of these amusements? What is their effect on the young worker?

In our district, is there a library which the young workers could use? Or courses in technical schools? Opportunities for music, singing, art? What effect would these have on young workers? What does JOC think about it all?

How are the workers housed about here? In new building estates, old houses and slums, shacks, caravans?

Have they sufficient light and air? What about sanitation? Are their homes cheery, decent, human? Can any gardening be done near the home?

What do we think of the workers’ housing? What effect has it on family life? On children’s health? On purity, decency, good manners? On the way that free time is spent?

What can each of us do to make living conditions better?


So the pattern grows in the boys’ minds; many more questions than I can repeat here, but each calculated to set them thinking, to move them towards doing. One can see, almost in the questions themselves, a developing social awareness, a growing sense of social responsibilities and ties. But man is not merely a social animal; he is a moral being. And the questions continue (but notice how they are still working on the boys’ own experiences):

What do the young workers talk about when they hang round the street corner? What is said about purity? Do the young workers think purity possible or necessary? Should a fellow have a girl? What do the chaps say? Do they think it should depend on his age? What do we think?

What do the fellows say about getting married? What age do they think is the right age for marriage? Why, in their view, do people get married? The physical pleasures? Or because they want to love and be loved by someone? Or because it is more comfortable to have your own home and to settle down? Or because they want children? What reasons do they give for their opinions? What do you think of their reasons?

What do the lads think of their parents and families? How do they talk about them?

Do we think that working conditions have much to do with all this?

What do the fellows think of working-class solidarity? Do they believe in it? Or do they think it should be every man for himself?

Is it very difficult for the young worker to remain pure and honest? Why? Is it the general tone of the chaps we work with or meet outside?

Do we know young workers who quarrel with their parents, keep their own wages? And young workers who help their parents? Why?

Does an immoral life affect health? And pocket? And the young worker’s capacity . for love, dignity, finer feelings?

What do we think of the moral character of the workers as a whole? Do our conditions affect our family life? Does immorality weaken us in our family life, in our organisations?

Is religion discussed by the lads? What do the workers say about God and the Church? What workers let it be known in the factories that they are practising Catholics? Are we known to be Christians? What do the other chaps say to us about it? What do we say to them?

Do we know what being a Christian means? Is it only going to Mass on Sundays and to the Sacraments now and again?

What have we to do to live like Christians? What are the Gospels? Who was Christ? What is the Church? What are the two chief Commandments? Can we practise them in our daily lives? How can we apply them to our mates at work? In the street? At home?


And so on. These questions are drawn, as examples, from the first four meetings. They are sufficient to instance the general method and the cumulative effect and the gradual orientation of the recruit’s thoughts to Christ and the tasks which Christ has set JOC. I do not know any method better calculated to engage a boy’s interest, or a girl’s for that matter. Priests using it have told me of its extraordinary effects; and I have seen work done by boys of 15 and 16, crude, illiterate, yet alive with the sense of Christ and His Charity. In the next article I shall give some account of the varieties of meetings and their conduct, and of jobs actually being done by Jocists.

– By Paul McGuire .


JOC and the Training of Militants (Advocate, Thursday 30 September 1937, page 6) (Trove)

Catholic Youth on the March, Jocism and the Apostolate of the Workers (Southern Cross (Adelaide, SA : 1889 – 1954), Friday 1 October 1937, page 17) (Trove)

The Christian Revolution



SEVENTY THOUSAND young men and women are standing in a vast arena. About them are great machines —the machines at which they toil. To music, group after group is marching in, carrying banners and the symbols of their trades and crafts. Then come the nurses, carrying a huge white cross. A torch is lit. It passes from hand to hand, other torches take fire from it, the lights run out to the far edges of the crowd. It is the light of Christian teaching, spreading from Jocist to Jocist, to illumine the world.

The mechanics make a platform of machines. The carpenters build upon it a table of mahogany. On the table the quarrymen set a flat stone. Over it the girl weavers spread three linen cloths from their mills. At the right hand, bookbinders place a huge book, the product of theirs and the printers’ arts. Miners set safety lamps on the table. The white cross is placed above it. The altar is ready for to-morrow’s Mass. The workers have raised, from the things they make, a throne for God.

In the morning, the Cardinals and the Archbishops and the Bishops of France come to that altar. An old man and an old woman come to it

They are workers, like the tens of thousands gathered there. Between the old man and the old woman walks their son. He was a worker, too. Now he goes to say his first Mass. He is a Jocist, and those who built the altar, the seventy thousand who will presently answer his voice in the responses of the Mass are Jocists.

They are the Christian Revolution.*

The Miracle of JOC.

A year or two after the war, a young Priest in Belgium said to a young workinginan and a young working girl: ” We are going to conquer the world.” In July, at Paris, seventy thousand delegates from twenty different countries knelt before the Altar of the Workers at that first Mass of the Priest who had once been a fitter. They came from the mines and the mills and the ships and the factories and the farms and the offices. All were wage-earners. Most were manual workers. Not one was more than twenty-five years old.

To them, the Holy Father addressed a special message. He repeated that pregnant phrase of his: “The apostles of the workers must be workers.” He has said that their action is “an ideal form of Catholic Action.” He has given them his blessing.

I met, at the C.S.G. Summer School in Oxford, Father Kothen, of the Belgian J.O.C. There is still danger from Communism in France, he said, but in Belgium that is passing. Today, for each recruit to the Belgian Communist parties, JOC makes three. There are 90,000 Jocists in Belgium, 100,000 in France, 500,000 in Europe; and to be a Jocist is not an easy thing, while the organisation itself has only been formally approved for ten years. About one-sixth of the Jocists are “militants,” and each “militant” is assumed to influence about one hundred of his fellow-workmen.

To resist Communism is only an aspect of the task. Communism itself is but a symptom of social disease: of that disease in which, as Pius XI has said, “the whole economic life has become hard, cruel, and relentless in a ghastly manner.” Catholics who see our whole task, or even a major task, in mere negative resistance to Communism are grossly mistaken. We must destroy the disease of which it is a symptom. We must restore health to the body of society. We must make our own revolution, the revolution in Christ. And that is what JOC is doing.

” Jeunesse Ouvriere Chretienne”: they are the words for which IOC stands: the Christian Worker Youth. Christian, notice: all things are centred in Christ, Christ is our Master, the Worker who is Master of Workingmen.

Christians—W orkers—Y ouths.

JOC, though it is the most familiar of them, is only one of five great organisations: JMC (Young Catholic Sailors), JEC (Young Catholic Students), JAC (Young Catholic Peasants), and JIC (Young Catholic Intellectual Workers). JOC is essentially the organisation of the industrial workers. It will be seen at once that the vocational orders, of which the Social Encyclicals speak, are observed here in their true sense. The vocations have each their part, but the parts combine for the common good, are ordered to it.

Last Whitsun, in Paris, JOC, JAC, JEC, JIC, and JMC presented together a parable play. They described in great choruses, the selfishness and violence which destroy the social order. Cries JOC: “The factory doors are shut.” Cries JAC: “No one wants the fruits of the earth.” Cries JMC: ” Ships remain in the harbors.” Cries JEC: “Students fail in the useless exams.” Cries JIC: ” Failures and miseries multiply.” Then all cry together: “Chaos, unemployment, misery, revolution, war. We want to work and to live. Who will save us?” And a voice answers: ” Christ.”

Christ is the Unity in Whom men must live and work, in Whom all vocations, all individual talents, all personal labors and sufferings, all social effort and trial, find meaning and realisation. That is the lesson of JOC and JAC and J EC and JMC and JIC. It is the message they are carrying to the world, to their immediate worlds, to the classrooms and the ships and the farms and the mills and the newspaper offices and the mines.

JOC is for boys and girls between the ages of fourteen and twenty-five. There are organisations for the younger, organisations into which they pass after twenty-five, but one musl leave these aside for the time. JOC is based on the parochial units, in which the Priest is the centre of the group, in the sense that he is responsible for its spiritual welfare. But the officers are all Jocists. The great congress in Paris the other day was arranged by these boys and girls: and, seated in the midst of the Cardinals and Bishops, a young man presided over it all—the young workingman who is President of the JOC of France.

JOC is a school of young workers.

It is social service. It works for better conditions, better wages. It is a representative body. Its reports are valued by the International Labor Office. But, above all, it is an apostolate. It insists not only on the personal sanctification of its members, but on their duty, their splendid task, as apostles to their fellows. It works at the conquest of the workers for Christ.

Its militants are the hard core of the movement. They form cells in shops and factories and mines: they are the nucleus of the parish sections. JOC always begins with a small group of militants. One can see them in training now in England. In the first week-end of August forty young men of Wigan, Father Rimmer’s group, went into retreat. For nearly six months they have been preparing themselves. Father Atkinson has another group at Wellingborough. The organisation has been authorised in Westminster, Liverpool, Northampton, Birmingham. One believes that in a year or two it will be spreading across England, as it has spread across Belgium and France: that in every place where the toiling masses labor the spirit of JOC will be there to remind men again of Christ, Who toiled and labored.

To penetrate the milieu, that is the task of JOC. Tt is a personal apostolate for each boy and girl. You are concerned with tJie man next to you at the bench, the boys who live in your street: with the girl beside you at the loom, the young women in the dance halls. The job requires courage and knowledge and spiritual integrity. Tt is not the least of the great achievements of JOC that it has found the method of steeling the moral and intellectual purpose of the young city dwellers: it has learnt how to waken their enthusiasm, how to instruct their minds, how to nourish their charity, how to make apostles of them. The whole Catholic world can learn from JOC’s technique. In my next article T shall try to give some account of it.


The Christian Revolution (Southern Cross, Friday 24 September 1937, page 17) (Trove)


Next week will appear the first of a series of articles by Paul McGuire on the fgmous revolutionary organisation of the JOC (Jeunesse Ouvriere Chretienne, the Continental Christian organisation of industrial workers).

There are 90,000 Jocists in Belgium, 100,000 in France, 500,000 in Europe—and to-day, in Belgium, for each recruit to the Communist parties, JOC

makes three.

Read introductory reference in this issue—

See Letter from London.


JOC (Southern Cross (Adelaide, SA : 1889 – 1954), Friday 17 September 1937, page 1) (Trove)