The problem of the young worker in Australia in the light of Christian ideals was stressed at the Eighth National Conference of the Young Christian Workers’ Movement, held at Adelaide last week. Messages to the Conference were received from His Holiness Pope Pius XII and from the Apostolic Delegate, Archbishop Carboni. Present were Archbishop Beovich, of Adelaide, Bishop Gallagher, of Port Pirie, Episcopal Chairman of the Movement, and 130 lay delegates and chaplains.
THE growth of the Young Christian Worker Movement in further fields, especially in the intllectual and cultural domains, would enable the movement to make an important contribution towards the rechristianization of society, the combatting of materialism and the triumph of the true Christian ideal of life, said a message from His Holiness Pope Pius XII to Most Rev. B. Gallagher, Bishop of Port Pirie, S.A., Episcopal Chairman of the Y.C.W., on the occasion of the Eighth National Conference and Tenth National Council of the Movement, held last week at Adelaide, S.A.
The message was received from His Excellency Monsignor Montini, Vatican Pro-secretary of State. Another message to the Conference was from His Excellency the Apostolic Delegate, Most Rev. R. Carboni.
His Holiness’ message read:
My Lord Bishop,
The Sovereign Pontiff, having been informed by His Excellency the Apostolic Delegate of the Eighth National Conference and Tenth National Council Meeting of the Young Christian Workers’ Movement of Australia, to be held in Adelaide at the beginning of October next, has graciously directed me to send to the participants, through the good offices of Your Lordship, the expression of His benevolent felicitation for the good work already accomplished, and a message of paternal encouragement for the future.
His Holiness nourishes the hope that the Young Christian Workers’ Movement of Australia may continue to grow daily in extension and in stature. By its extension to each and every diocese of the Commonwealth, it will bring the countless benefits of Catholic Action to the entire continent of Australia. By its growth to include further fields of action and other groups, especially in the intellectual and cultural domains, it will be enabled to make an important contribution towards the re-christianization of society, the combating of materialism and the triumph of the true Christian ideal of life.
So vast a programme can and will only be implemented by a deepening and intensification of the interior spiritual life of each member of die Movement, resulting in a profound personal conviction regarding die Faith and its responsibilities and hence a lively energetic apostolic spirit, always docile to the wise guidance of the Episcopate.
It is, therefore, to invoke abundant divine graces upon such praiseworthy endeavours, and in testimony of His particular benevolence, that the Holy Father cordially imparts to Your Lordship, and to the Chaplains, leaders and members of the Movement, His paternal Apostolic Blessing.
With sentiments of personal esteem and regard,
Sincerely yours in Christ,
J. B. Montini,
The full text of Archbishop Carboni’s message will be published next week.
The Archbishop of Adelaide Most Rev. M. Beovich, officially welcomed 130 lay delegates and chaplains of the Young Christian Workers at the opening of the Eighth National Conference of the Movement in Australia Hall, Adelaide, on Monday 4 October. His Grace extended a special welcome to, and introduced Most Rev. B. Gallagher, the Bishop of Port Pirie, and new Episcopal Chairman of the Y.C.W. .
Bishop Gallagher said he considered it a great privilege to be present at the conference and to be associated with the Y.C.W. He wished to join with the National President (John Doherty) in expressing to His Grace, Dr. Beovich, the deep gratitude of all Y.C.W.s for the kind and gracious hospitality extended by the Archdiocese of Adelaide. Bishop Gallagher paid special tribute to the work of his predecessor, Archbishop Simonds, “who had guided so carefully and so successfully your steps in Catholic Action.”
His Lordship then read the messages which had been sent by His Holiness Pope Pius XII and the Apostolic Delegate in Australia, Most Rev. R. Carboni, for the occasion of die conference. In declaring the conference open, Dr. Gallagher urged the delegates to look ahead and extend their Apostolate.
Following the reading of the National Report, and messages from oversea Y.C.W.s by the secretary (Jim Wilson) the first of three papers to be presented during the conference was given by Brian O’Halloran. In his paper Brian O’Halloran brought out the problem of the young worker in Australia.
To understand the problem we had to ignore the world’s present values and look at the present situation of the young worker in the light of God’s plan for him. To do this we had to realize that God made the world to serve Man so that he would attain his eternal destiny through the world—not in spite of it.
God made every person with three aspects’—the physical, the’ spiritual and the religious. These three aspects were interlinked. Through diem the human person was meant to be developed and to realize his dignity. Looking at the world today it could be seen that many people gave no indication whatever of an interest in spiritual or religious activities.
Mr. O’Halloran then went on to point out how the influences on the young worker in the home, at work and at leisure were in contradiction to God’s plan for the young worker.
Referring to the incidence of divorce and the large number of unhappy homes Mr. O’Halloran said that these problems reflected the unwholesome situation of the husband and wife who failed to appreciate their obligation towards children. The situation resulted in frustration of the young worker through his not being formed through. a happy home environment in love, obedience, selflessness, honesty and consideration, responsibility and justice.
The home was the cradle of education and formation only when parents were capable of making it so. From the lack of education of children in the home there were many repercussions. Many , young workers today considered they had little or no responsibility towards the home.
Mr. O’Halloran, basing his statements on findings from facts gathered during the Home Campaign which was conducted recently by the Y.C.W. throughout Australia, said that many young workers spent six nights a week away from home and that only a small minority spent three or more in the home.
Other big contributing factors to the dehumanization of the young worker at home were the housing shortage and the lack of community life.
On entering into work a lad experienced a crisis because he was starting off in a completely new way of life. How he fared would be very greatly responsible for the salvation or damnation of his immortal soul.
The common attitude to work was wrong: rather than realizing that God meant young workers to be developed physically, spiritually and religiously through work, most considered that it was just something you have to do if you want to eat.
Mr. O’Halloran pointed out that to some extent the schools were failing in so much as many lads left school without the knowledge that work was a vocation. Further, school-leavers did not know what constituted a particular job other than by its title. As a result they had no idea to what type of job they were best suited.
The moral influences at work which so often were completely contrary to what he had been used to at school and at home were tremendous. Even though many things were contrary to his ideals, like misusing the boss’ material, poor quality work, sordid discussion on sex, etc., the young worker was a social being who desired company and companionship, and in order to be accepted by his fellow-workers he often conformed to their “ideals” or lack of ideals—the norm by which fellow-workers judged whether or not a lad was a good sport worthy of being accepted by “the boys” !
In some places there “still existed in Australia material conditions which failed to show a recognition of the fact that the young worker was a dignified person. Many factories had inadequate first aid facilities and numerous factories and workshops failed to provide proper safeguards, lighting and ventilation. (In support of this Mr. O’Halloran quoted Department of Labour and National Service figures which showed that 600 workers were killed in industrial accidents during 1953. More than 200,000 had been badly enough injured to miss three days work or more.)
Mr. O’Halloran spoke at length on the particular problem of the apprenticed Apprentices were often because of lo\V wages in their early years of apprenticeship, forced to become a burden to their parents at a time when they should be able to offer assistance.
So far as leisure time was concerned many Australian young workers were mentally inadequate to cope with leisure. This was so because they have not been educated as to the real meaning of leisure.
USE OF LEISURE
A great number of young workers spent a gOod deal of their leisure time in passive entertainment. God meant leisure to be a period of recreation through healthy sport and cultural education. Australia was greatly lacking in cultural life—yet culture was so. necessary for the development of the spiritual aspect of the human person.
Great problems presented themselves in the young workers’ leisure time through films, and literature which accentuated sex and violence.
Drinking had developed into one of the chief pastimes of young workers. Many young workers today considered the degree of their manhood was measured by the amount they could consume. Also they had the idea, from the world, that at parties and smokos you had to drink to get “happy” and “have a good time,” and be one of the mob.
SAVING FOR MARRIAGE
Other points made ware that the lack of responsibility in the use of saving of money was the cause for many young men reaching the stage of marriage but finding themselves financially unprepared to provide for the basic requirement so necessary for the establishment of a happy future home life.
He also pointed out the problems which were associated with National Service Training.
In conclusion, he said: “God made every Young Worker with a Divine Destiny. Even though we are affected by Original Sin, we are still meant to go to heaven through the world and not in spite of it. Today the Young Worker has to achieve his Destiny in spite of Original Sin and the World. While the-world is not serving the Young Worker there is a problem. The Young Worker today cries out for a chance to live. The Y.C.W. must answer this call by building a new social order. “As Canon Cardijn said: “We have not come to start a Revolution, we ARE the revolution.”
Most Rev. Bryan Gallagher Episcopal Chairman, Y.C.W.
Problem Of The Young Worker In Australia (Advocate, Thursday 14 October 1954, page 8) (Trove)