Germans Shoot Young Christian Workers

More than 100 Belgian Leaders Executed

LONDON (by Air Mail), November 24.

From Our London Correspondent

SOME details of the German persecution of the Young Christian Workers’ Movement in France and Belgium have been learnt by Mr. Harry Tolfree, first president of the Y.C.W. in England, who is serving with the British forces in Northern Europe. These have been published in the current issue of the “Catholic Worker” in a message which Tolfree has sent from Brussels.

At Jocist headquarters in Brussels—one of the first buildings in the town to be seized by the Germans in 1940—Tolfree met M. Jacques Meert, Director of the Centrale, and several other leaders. He was told that more than one. hundred Y.C.W. leaders had been shot by the Germans and many others deported to Germany, since when nothing had been heard of them. Both Canon Cardijn, the founder of the movement, and his assistant, Fr. Kothen, had been subjected to inquisition by the Gestapo and the former had been imprisoned. The Jocistes took a leading part in effecting the repatriation of the 100,000 young Belgian men who had, on Government orders, fled to France in 1940 to prevent the Germans from being able to press them into service in their labour corps. Later, the Y.C.W. members took a prominent part in the resistance movement.


To-day the movement is doing conspicuous work for the rehabilitation* of Belgium. One week after the liberation of Brussels its newspaper, “La Jeunesse Ouvriere,” was on sale again, with an initial printing of 700,000 copies—240,000 in French and 450,000 in Flemish. At its headquarters an organisation has been at work for weeks helping escaped Belgian prisoners to find and reunite •with their families.


The unsavoury methods of the Gestapo in their interrogation of prisoners were revealed by Fr. Kothen, who, because of his contacts with Britain before the war, was kept under surveillance and summoned six or seven times to Gestapo headquarters for questioning.

“On arrival,” says Tolfree, “he was shown into a very large room, where his statement was taken down by a stenographer. Immediately he , had finished, he was told to repeat everything again. During the whole of the interview a wireless set blared forth Wagner music and numerous officials walked in and out continuously —obviously to make it as difficult as possible to concentrate.

Six or seven times during the next two years he was called to the Gestapo H.Q. and went through the same performance each time. It is not known how long this game would have continued had the Allies not arrived.”

Canon Cardijn was arrested and spent some time in prison, and though eventually released, was kept under observation. By the margin of a minute or so he escaped , deportation when the Germans pulled out of Brussels in a hurry.

Relating that one of the last things that the evacuating Germans did was to take with them as many prominent Belgians as they could lay hands on, Tolfree says: “Canon Cardjin had just finished Mass when a party of Germans came to arrest him,

Fortunately, one of the leaders of the J.O.C. was on guard at the door and managed to warn him of the Germans’ approach. He escaped by jumping over the wall at the back of the house and hiding for a few hours in a neighbouring house until the Allies entered Belgium. I believe he surprised himself at the speed with which he got over the wall—especially as he has just turned his sixtieth year.”

During the years of German occupation of Europe reports from Belgium and: France which were smuggled to England told of the strong influence exerted by the J.O.C. on the maintenance of the national morale. The Germans disbanded the movement, but the good work went on in secret and the deaths of more than one hundred leaders is testimony of the success with which it waged its war against Nazism.


A Community of nuns are among the victims of the outrage which has given the small Dutch town of Heusden, on the River Maas, the poignant title o? the “Dutch Lidice.” There, on the night of November 5, the Germans herded ,200 of the population into the town hall and blew up the building. The bodies of 135 men, women and children have been recovered from the ruins, and 65 people, more or less seriously injured, were taken out alive, with the assistance of British troops.

A despatch from Holland says that the Germans went to the local convent and told the nuns, who were sheltering in the cellars, that they, too, should go to the Town Hall.

It is also reported that the Germans blew up the Catholic and Protestant churches. Incendiary bombs were also used to destroy the Catholic church, the Germans having planted them the previous day when they entered the church on the pretext of viewing and admiring the organ.


Christmas Midnight Mass is to return to Britain again after a five years’ absence. With the liberation of all but the southern part of the country from bombing and the relaxation of black-out regulations, the Bishops are giving permission for the service to return to the public churches. During the war Midnight Mass has been allowed only in the abbey and collegiate churches, and in some convents, and from these the public were excluded. The Midnight Mass will automatically end the afternoon Mass on Christmas Eve, which the Holy Father granted as a special concession to the countries subject to black-out.

The latest reports on the condition of Archbishop Downey are that he is making such good progress that his doctors are hopeful of his being able to leave the nursing home in two or three weeks. An improvement, it is stated, set in during the closing days of last week, and has been steadily maintained.


Germans Shoot Young Christian Workers, Wednesday 20 December 1944, page 11)(Trove)

Finest Catholic Action set up in the world

CA Reprints 24
CA Reprints 24
CA Reprints 24

Australian Catholics during the past ten years have corresponded with leaders of Catholic Action the world over, and there is practically no movement adaptable to Australian conditions that has not been borrowed wholesale for the finest set-up of Catholic Action in the world. At least that’s the impression I got from a conversation with the Rev. James G. Murtagh, associate editor of the Melbourne Advocate and member of an Australian journalists’ union. It seems that it was the laity, not the priests, who did all the corresponding and robbing, so everything was all right. I got the impression that the laymen wrote even the bishops’ circular letters and directed the bishops in the application of the encyclicals. Even the Communists tag along at the heels of these Catholic Workers. For example, the Communists attended the latest annual Benediction for journalists, listened patiently to the Archbishop’s sermon, and joined in the following gab–fest. They were afraid they’d miss something,

In Australia, groups have been organized for specialized Catholic Action among the teachers, lawyers, druggists, artists, engineers, journalists and farmers. The Ladies of the Grail are in charge of Catholic Action for the girls, and a fine job they do, while the boys are organized along the lines of the Jocists in various countries. They steal from the Jocists came from correspondence with the Abbe Kothen of the Belgian Jocists, mentioned above in connection with English Jocism.


The Social Forum (Canada), December 1942 (Catholic Action Reprints N°. 24)

Growth of Australian Catholic Action

Here, in a digest of the second part of Rev. J. G. Murtagh’s recent article in the New York “Commonweal on “Australia Comes of Age,” is a lively sketch of the growth of Catholic Action in Australia, particularly as seen in the Campion and affiliated societies in Melbourne. At the risk of embarrassing certain modest Catholic laymen well known to many of our readers, Fr. Murtagh’s quick pen-pictures, drawn for readers in the United States, are reproduced in condensed form. Fr. Murtagh, assistant editor of “The Advocate,” is at present studying at the Catholic University, Washington, D.C., U.S.A.

THE International Eucharistic Congress, held in Sydney in 1928, was followed in the ‘thirties by a remarkable outburst of ecclesiastical and lay initiative, which reached its climax in the midst of war, with the recent announcement by the Hierarchy of the unification of Catholic Action in the Commonwealth.

The lay movement had its origins in the Campion Society, founded in Melbourne in 1931 by a young lawyer as an educational and cultural discussion group movement for university graduates and undergraduates.

Following an historical approach, the society was deeply influenced by Belloc and Dawson and expanded in a three years informal group life of reading and discussion over the general field of Catholic literature.

The centre of the movement was the Melbourne Catholic Library (30,000 volumes), which is situated in the heart of downtown, with a cafe nearby and a hotel around the corner. The society was a seeding ground for lay apostles and soon began to flower.

One group formed a branch of the Catholic Evidence Guild. Others began writing for the press and speaking for the Catholic Hour broadcast.

Another group founded the Australian “Catholic Worker,” while the debating halls of Australian universities, too, echoed to the Chester-Belloc dialectic, for from ’32 to ’37 Campion men captained the Melbourne ‘Varsity debating teams. In their visits to the various capital cities, they discovered other groups of young Catholics beginning to shoulder the troubles of the world, notably the Catholic Guild of Social Studies in Adelaide.


In 1934, at the National Eucharistic Congress in Melbourne, a conference was called of student bodies from all (States of the Commonwealth. Appropriately, the theme of the Congress was “The Blessed Eucharist and Catholic Action.” The convention resulted, among other things, in the formation by Campion leaders of an unofficial clearing house for ideas on Catholic Action.

Half a dozen members and one of their chaplains prepared a joint pamphlet, entitled “Prelude to Catholic Action,” stressing formation instead of organisation, which had a wide circulation, and groups of Campion inspiration began to spring up in cities, country towns and most unexpected corners e£ the continent. At the same time, the Campion Society established contact with the outside world and began to build up knowledge of what was being thought and done in other countries.

English ideas filtered in through the press, notably the “Catholic Herald,” the “Weekly Review” and “Blackfriars,” to mention only the more influential.

The society was in touch with Rev. Fr. Kothen of the J.O.C. and the “Action Populaire” in France. Thus the “Dossiers” and “Cahiers” and the rich, inspiring literature of Jocism began to exert its influence on the movement.

Of American influences, Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin have ;been, perhaps, the greatest, for the American “Catholic Worker” inspired ;a like venture in the South Seas.


The foundation of the “Catholic Worker” was an event of profound importance for the future of Catholic social policy in Australia. The writer, a Campion chaplain, was present on that summer evening late in January, 1936, when the first “pull” was drawn, wet, “”blotchy and technically rather primitive, from an over-worked press in a small suburban printery in an industrial suburb, and eagerly scrutinised by the first Campion “Catholic Worker” group.

The edition was bundled up and despatched by the writers. The .first copy was sent to Pope Pius XI. and another to Joseph Stalin, Moscow! And when the job was done and the hour very late, the boys drank a bottle of wine and said a decade of the Rosary.

So began the Australian “C.W.,” inspired, it is true, by its elder brother in America, but differing in origins, policy and organisation. It was founded, with the permission of Archbishop Mannix, as a free organ •of lay opinion and propaganda for .social justice.

It grew almost overnight into a national monthly of 50,000 copies. The first consignment to Adelaide was preceded by a telegram which read as follows: “Five hundred Catholic Workers’ arriving Adelaide railway station.” The police were advised and extra men were detailed for duty!

The Australian “C.W.” is not a centre of a “movement” along Mott-street lines. There are, as yet, no breadlines, houses of hospitality, farming communes, nor organised counsels of perfection.

But there is plenty of round-table discussion, for the paper is co-operatively edited and written (without pay and after work) by a group of laymen, with the object of giving the Australian worker a concrete programme of Christian social action, on the lines of the encyclicals.

To-day, it is conducted by a central committee of 24 men, with an inner council of members of at least two years’ experience, to preserve continuity of policy. Its criticism of modern policy is expressed in the dialectic of Belloc’s “Servile State” and its policy is summed up in its slogan, “Property for the People!” Its conclusions are its own, nor does it commit the Church or the Hierarchy. In 1937 it received the Apostolic Blessing of Pope Pius XI.


When the Fourth Plenary Council of the Hierarchy of Australasia met in September, 1937, the Bishops recognised and commended the “Catholic Worker.” They also implemented a memorandum on ^Catholic Action, submitted by Campion leaders, urging the establishment of a National Secretariat and a period of experimentation and formation of leaders, so that Catholic Action should not be superimposed from above but should be an organic growth from below, following the principle of specialisation according to milieu.

The founder of the Campion movement, Frank Maher, was appointed director, and B. A. Santamaria became his assistant. Educated by the Christian Brothers and the Jesuits, Maher is a lawyer, who is attracted more by the cosmic conflicts of history than by the legal battles of the Bar.

A neat, suave and restrained personality, who prefers compromise to conflict, his tact and diplomacy have been a prime factor in the lay development of the ‘thirties. By contrast, his assistant, Santamaria, is a miniature tornado of ideas and energy. Australian-born, he followed ‘ a brilliant law course, but sublimated a zest for politics in a social apostolate.

His initiative and flair for journalism left their mark on all Campion activities, while in recent years his powers of oratory, leadership and organisation have been turned to building the Australian Catholic Rural Movement, perhaps the most important field of Catholic Action developed under the Secretariat. Starting from small beginnings about four years ago, it now has groups, centres and regions scattered up and down Australia, and is federated as a national movement, with its own newspaper, “Rural Life.”

While English, French and Belgian ideas have had no little influence in other fields of the Australian lay apostolate, American and Canadian ideas have been the major inspiration in the Australian rural movement.


Among other founders of the Campion Society, which included a convert parson and a former seminarian, was Denys Jackson, an English convert from Liverpool, who came to Australia on an exchange system as a teacher of history, settled permanently, married, after proposing by cable to his future wife in England, and, after winning a university prize essay on “Catholicism and Reconstruction,” began free-lancing for Catholic newspapers, became the best Catholic editorial writer in the Commonwealth and an authoritative commentator on world affairs.

The influence of French thought, particularly Charles Maurras, gives him a certain monarchist slant of mind and a definite contempt for demagogy.

A striking figure, unexpected in dress and somewhat Chestertonian in style, Jackson, a specialist in history, is at home with the Caesars, Charlemagne, St. Louis, the Stuarts and Napoleon and has become something of a legend, for his voice is known to thousands who have never seen him—the great radio audience which settles down every

Sunday night to hear his weekly commentary, presented as “The Onlooker” from the Catholic Hour, 3AW, Melbourne. Another foundation member, who had, however, no influence on the movement, was Frank Quaine, a bril-

liant French scholar of Melbourne University, who found himself so spiritually unattuned to Australia that he went to live in France, wrote articles for the royalist press, and took part in the retreat from Dunkirk, escaping safely to England on a destroyer.

Of profound importance in the history of the movement has been Kevin T. Kelly, a chubby dynamo of physical and mental energy, son of a railroad worker, an ardent democrat and radical Labourite, whose torrid oratory has been heard from public platform, university rostrum and soap-box.

One of the keenest minds thrown up by the society, Kelly was the founder of the Catholic Evidence Guild and is, perhaps, the best brain in the Catholic social movement.

He simultaneously served in a Government department, worked his way through college, studied the Catholic Revival, maintained a worldwide correspondence and hammered but a policy of social Catholicism and introduced the fundamental methods of Jocism.


The climax of the movement which began with the first Campion group in 1931 was the unification of Catholic Action by the Hierarchy in October, 1941. It set the seal of approval on the work of the Secretariat, established by lay initiative in 1938, a work which has already produced abundant good in the public life of the Commonwealth. The national scheme of child endowment (family allowances) which became law early this year and went into operation in July, by which every mother of a family receives one dollar per head per week for every child after the first, was due in no small measure to the united Catholic voice, led by the Secretariat of Catholic Action and expressed in its statement on social justice of 1940.

Recently, Dr. H. V. Evatt, Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs in the present Government, paid a tribute to Catholic Action and its 1941 statement, entitled “Justice Now.”

Speaking of the wider distribution of wealth and property in a national broadcast, Dr. Evatt said: “I think I can make the point clearer by citing ‘Justice Now,’ an official research study of the Australian Secretariat of Catholic Action. I am not a member of the Catholic Church and, therefore, I feel a special duty to pay a tribute to the value of this study.”


Meanwhile, the war birds are loose in the Pacific and Australians are experiencing for the first time the fear and exhilaration of armed conflict at their doors. There is complete unity among her people and the Labour Prime Minister, John Curtin, has announced new emergency measures, “the first instalment of a complete revision of the whole of the Australian economy and domestic life.”

And so Australia, the terra australia incognita which eluded discoverers, puzzled geographers and grew to nationhood in detachment and loneliness, has yielded up her splendid isolation before the silver wings of ocean fliers and has emerged into the full light of history. What the future holds no man can tell.


Growth of Australian Catholic Action (The Advocate, Thursday 26 March 1942, page 15)

Formation for Catholic Action

The National Secretariat of Catholic Action which has been set up in Melbourne inaugurates a work of far-reaching importance for Australia. It will be conducted by laymen, but their efforts will be fruitless without the direction and cooperation of the priest. What is the function of the priest in the lay apostolate? In this article, Fr. Kothen, Assistant Chief of the Jocist movement, which has been enthusiastically praised by the Pope, defines the part of the priest in the formation of militants.

ONE day I asked Canon Cardijn to tell me exactly what is the role of the priest in the Young Christian Workers’ Movement, and he replied: “The priest is everything and he is nothing.” Let me begin by showing why the priest is nothing. He is nothing in Catholic Action because it is essentially the concern of the laity. Catholic Action presupposes mixing with the world; it is the leaven that is put into the dough . . . and not alongside it. But priests are excluded from secular life. The priest is exclusively a man of God, vowed to serve the altar and souls. He may not burden his life with worldly cares, whether of family or work or politics. He must be detached from all that in order to be entirely at the service of the Church. But, as we have seen, society to-day is in dire need of a leaven which will penetrate it and transform it. The priest cannot be this leaven; only the laity can be.

Once Canon Cardijn illustrated this by saying that for all practical purposes there is written over the door of all banks, factories, offices, etc., a notice to this effect: “Entry of clergy forbidden.” In a certain strict sense we might agree with this; but we can never agree that it should mean: “Entry forbidden to the Church.” No, the Church and its influence must penetrate everywhere. There is no corner of the globe, no aspect of human activity which ought not to be thought of as a part of the Kingdom of God, and, since the laity alone have the entry into these different spheres of life, it is they and they alone who have the mission of building up the Kingdom of God there.

This helps us to realise all the harm that secularism has done, for, in fact, very few Catholics look on themselves as representing the Church in the environment in which they live and work.

And yet the Church does not exist and does not act there except through them. So what they do not do will never be done. They are the Church. And Catholic Action gives a positive and official mandate to represent the Church and to fulfil the mission which is naturally theirs by the very fact of belonging to the Church, by their Baptism and Confirmation.


So you see how in this essential action, the priest is nothing. But we can go still further. So far we have only mentioned the sphere of application of Catholic Action—namely, the environment which must be conquered by it. But Catholic Action besides having a goal has also a source— namely, the little group or cell of militant members who form and train themselves for Catholic Action.

In this connection we must see things as they really are, we must be realists. We ask the laity to play a part of foremost importance in secular life. They have got to be capable of taking the initiative, responsibility, authority—in a word, they must have all the virtues. But you must know that all these qualities are not going to be acquired suddenly at the moment when, for example, the young worker crosses the threshold of the factory. He must already possess these virtues and qualities before he enters; he must acquire them outside the factory; which means, he must gain them in the Catholic Action cell.


So the Catholic Action cell must resemble secular society in this respect; the layman must hold the same place in both cases; that means, he must occupy the whole place, and in consequence no place is left for the priest . . . since all the places are occupied!

If you want the proof of how important and true this is, just look at the societies and good works all round you; they are innumerable, of all kinds; they have worked wonders, they have spread charity, sanctified their members, converted individuals . . . but not one has formed and trained militant members capable of transforming the environment in which they live and work . . . and for the very simple reason that they are run by the priest.

He presides, controls, acts; the laity listen, obey, do’his commands. Having been passive at the meeting, they remain passive in the field of the apostolate. In a word, this is not Catholic Action.

I can tell you of an’ outstanding case that explains what I mean. A great French ecclesiastic, a foremost theological authority, had never allowed his priests to take part in the social movement nor in Catholic Action. He was against all new forms of action. The workers in particular had but to obey; that is their religious vocation. And then, in June, 1936, the whole of France was shaken by strikes: stay-in strikes, violent methods, a whole revolutionary technique. The Jocists were drawn willy-nilly into the strikes.


One of their chaplains went to see the great ecclesiastic to consult him on the very grave cases of conscience that arose for them. He replied that the matter was very complex, and he would need several days of reflection before judging. Whereupon the priest replied that the lads, carried along by the commotion, had not five minutes in which to reflect; they had to decide there and then.

This simple reply opened the eyes of the Superior to the real facts; he understood the real tragedy of the workers’ life, and he became from that time a great propagandist for Catholic Action and the J.O.C. Movement.

In any case, it is worth remarking that during these strikes the Jocists behaved, spontaneously, as Christians— and this because the J.O.C. has accustomed them in and through its organisation—to live as full Christians. This was one of the great proofs of the Tightness of the Jocist methods.

But when we said that the chaplain is nothing, we hastened to add that he is everything. Canon Cardijn has expressed this by saying that the priest is the soul of Catholic Action.

He it is who has to form, train, animate the militant members of Catholic Action. Where else can they go for strength, courage, guidance, training, if not to the priest?

Without him, Catholic Action will degenerate into merely external activity, propaganda, agitation, publicity, etc. The priest’s function is to give militant members an apostolic sense, and all the help that this implies, whether intellectual, moral or spiritual.

It would be impossible to over-insist, on the need for the doctrinal formation of members of Catholic Action. Spiritual and religious truths are so unknown and neglected to-day. If the working masses could but begin to suspect the wealth hidden in Christian truth, what prejudices would disappear, and how they would come back to Our Lord!


Therefore, our first and most urgent task is to instruct. But this will only succeed if done in a living manner. Abstract doctrine, ready-made, stereotyped formulas are no good for forming militant members. With them we will get no further.

What is essential is to express and explain Christian truth so that they can understand it, in their own language, so that it really gets anchored in their lives. In a word, we have simply got to return to the “Gospel” method of teaching, without forgetting to provide all the elements of a complete Christian synthesis-view of life.

This doctrine must go beyond mere intellectual training; it must lead to the formation of moral habits. This will be easy, if the priest constantly leads those he is training to see how the way in which we think is bound up with the manner of our life. By his practical advice, he will help lay apostles to practise all the virtues. And, above all, he must show them all the spiritual riches which the Church has ready for their use.

The whole movement of Catholic Action offers to priests wonderful opportunities to have just such an influence. Present at all the meetings of these lay apostles, he finds them entirely receptive and he can infuse into them the spirit of God.


It gives him altogether new opportunities of knowing the young workers and of getting into contact with them. Most priests complain of how difficult it is to get into contact with their young people. The Young Christian Workers’ Movement provides a unique opportunity for this, and under the most favourable conditions from the priest’s point of view. There he finds a little band of young workers, closely bound together, in a movement which exists to solve all their problems.

These group contacts find their natural continuation in more frequent personal contacts where the priest can put the finishing touch to his work.

And of course the Y.C.W. must, and does, offer its members a whole network of purely religious means which continue and perfect the formation of its members: retreats, participation in the Liturgy, and a general religious programme; all of which the chaplain can make use of in the work of formation, education and sanctification.

And we can add that such a movement allows the priest to reserve himself exclusively for his priestly functions, leaving to the laity the care for temporal things. In a word, persons and things find again their true place. No doubt, the chaplain’s task is delicate. It calls for the exercise of all manner of virtues. But it is of an importance and bears fruit beyond anything we can imagine. In Belgium, our chaplains all agree that through the J.O.C. not only have they understood the meaning of Catholic Action, but they have even gained new light on the meaning of their own priesthood.


Formation for Catholic Action (Advocate, Thursday 3 February 1938, page 9) (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