Y.C.W. Rally in Belgium Call for World-wide Movement

A call for a world-wide Young Christian Workers’ movement, which will operate among the masses in factories, mines and offices was made by Canon Cardijn, founder of the movement, when he addressed the rally held in Brussels recently to celebrate the organisation’s twentieth anniversary.

The rally was one of 200 held throughout the country to mark the anniversary. Among the 10,000 who attended a meeting in Ghent were English, French and Dutch representatives. After the meetings two days were devoted to. international study groups at which many foreign delegates were present.


Canon Cardijn gave a most stirring speech which opened with a challenge to the members as to whether they were prepared to accept and live in the world of barbarism and slavery which the present regime imposed. He spoke of the crusade that was needed to raise the dignity of the worker and continued:

“Are you ready to lead this crusade? Will you be Tonnets and Garcets who died at Dachau? Will you be the giants of the Faith? Will you be the builders, justifying the hopes which the J.O.C. places in you? Will you make the world accept the statute of the Worker Youth—that statute of liberation where it is not a question of any printed words, but of something alive expressing itself through your very presence?


“Remember the first thirteen years of the J.O.C. Remember 1912 and 1935, when J.O.C. leaders were then giants. Inspired by faith alone, they discovered those tremendous truths—the divine dignity and the eternal destiny of every worker. Every worker has his own divine vocation here on earth and by this vocation no one can take his place. Your task is to build a Christian world. The hour of the deproletarianisation of the working class has come; the hour of the real revolution has rung.

“There can be no question of a sacristy or drawing-room J.O.C. We have no use for an instrument which works outside the masses. Jocism must be within the factories, the mines, the offices, the workers’ quarters. . . . This meeting is the decisive event in the history of the world, for it alone can transform the masses so that they can continue Christ’s mission.


Mr. Pat Keegan, Britain’s delegate at the .meeting, described Canon’ Cardijn as the best ambassador whom Belgium could send abroad and Jocism as the best export from Belgium. He promised the meeting that they would build a world J.O.C.

In a message written for the anniversary, Cardinal Van Roey spoke of the “conquering apostolate” of the Jocistis, the fruitful work they had done for the young workers and of the openly Christian spirit and Catholic sense with which they had always been animated and which they had always tried to spread in society, especially among the workers’ families.

“Jocists,” he added, “will strive to establish in the torn world that peace which is so desired through their apostolic action on minds and hearts, through the dissemination of the Christian principles of justice, equity and charity, through establishing the security and ennobling of work by the concord and collaboration of the social classes.”


Y.C.W. Rally in Belgium Call for World-wide Movement (Advocate, Wednesday 26 September 1945, page 7) (Trove)

Y.C.W. Demonstration, October 26


Prominent among the Catholic Action organisations which will take part in the great festival* of Catholic life to be held, at Xavier College, Kew, on the Feast of Christ the King, October 26, is the Young Christian Workers’ Movement.

The Young Christian Workers’ Movement, a national organisation of young men from the ages of 14 to 18, was founded in Melbourne at the beginning of the year, at the wish of the Archbishop. It forms part of the international movement of young Christian workers begun in Belgium after the last war under the name of J.O.C.

Although its history in the Archdiocese of Melbourne is relatively short, the movement has already; begun its work of caring for the young Australian. Holiday camps, employment agencies, savings schemes, sport competitions—these and other activities come within its scope.

In one Melbourne parish, a flourishing section has been built up of young men previously not practical Catholics. The leader saw that it was the menace of dead-end jobs which was demoralising his young comrades. In another parish, the leaders’ group realised that the majority of young workers were wasting a large part of the money they earned. A savings system was brought into existence.

Another parish section, seeing that many Catholic boys from the country were coming to Melbourne, and that their Faith was imperilled by living in unsuitable boarding houses, has made the provision of Catholic board and lodging one of its activities.

In another parish, six leaders, who are now determined and enthusiastic .apostles, were once boys who did not even go to Mass. If you ask them why the movement won their allegiance -they will tell you that it is precisely because the movement, when it sees a need of the young worker, DOES something about it.

The Young Christian Workers of Melbourne run the biggest football competition in Victoria. Their “learn to dance” classes answer a real need of young Australians, Tliat in a Catholic atmosphere.

A national movement of Catholic Action recognised by the Episcopal Committee on Catholic Action in their recent Statement, the Young Christian Workers is one that has individual Dualities distinguishing it from previous movements. Its aim is not only to re-Christianise individuals and to win more souls for Christ.

The Young Christian Workers have come into existence to meet the paganisation of the whole of the world in which the workers are called upon to live their lives. This new paganism has made it appearance in every part of the modern world. The institution of marriage is threatened with collapse, not only because of divorce and birth prevention, and the toleration by the State of even worse crimes against unborn children; it is faced with collapse because the social system makes marriage and the family a “liability.”

The social system, through the atmosphere in factories, is perverting thousands of young workers, boys and girls, each year, from natural virtue. Further, the modern world, except for passing periods of prosperity, condemns many young workers to dead-end jobs, to insecurity, to unemployment.

Even the natural amusements of this generation of young workers, a possible source of sanctification, have often become instruments of Satan. The Young Christian Workers’ Movement exists to combat all of these things, by replacing these factors with institutions more in accord with the dignity of the young workers as sons of God.

The first public demonstration of their solidarity with all other Catholic Action bodies will be at Xavier College on the Feast of Christ the King. It is interesting to note that early in the year, the British Minister for Labour, Mr. Ernest Bevin, paid a striking tribute to the Y.C.W., by exempting the secretary, Mr. Pat Keegan, from military service because the work he was doing was of national importance.

MR. DAVID NELSON, one of the pioneers of the Young Christian Workers’ Movement in Australia.


Y.C.W. Demonstration, October 26 (Advocate, Thursday 2 October 1941, page 27) (Trove)