Kevin T. Kelly’s ‘JOC – Young Christian Workers’


Edited by Kevin T. Kelly, B.A.

Australian Catholic Truth Society Record, July 31, 1939. (No. 178)

CONTENTS                                                                         Page

AUSTRALIA AND THE J.O.C                                            1


By K. T. Kelly, B.A.

THE NEW PAGANISM                                                      7

By Canon Jos. Cardijn


By Rev. Father R. Kothen.

THE METHODS OF JOCISM                                            24

By Paul McGuire.



Lord Jesus,

a Worker like me,

HELP me and all my fellow-workers to think like You, to work with You, to pray through You, to live in You, to give to You all my strength and all my time.

MAY Your Kingdom come in all our factories, workshops and offices, and in all our homes.

BE everywhere better known, better loved, better served.

DELIVER us forever from injustice and hatred, from evil and sin.

MAY our souls remain in Your grace to-day, and may the soul of every worker who died on labour’s battlefield rest in peace! Amen.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, bless the Young Christian Workers!

Sacred Heart of Jesus, sanctify the Young Christian Workers!

Socred Heart of Jesus, may Your Kingdom come through the Young Christian Workers!

Queen of Apostles, pray for us.

Nihil obstat: J. DONOVAN, Censor Dcputatus.

Imprimatur: + D. MANNIX, Archiepiscopus Melbournensis.

Australia and the J.O.C.

IF we are to win Australia for Christ and to secure Social Justice, Catholic workers need to know the Faith and understand Australia.

We know that Australia is an island continent: we do not realise that it is largely a working-class continent. The mind, the will, the soul, the body, the family life, the social life, of the Australian worker is shaped and stamped by the environment, the institutions, the spirit, of a working-class bred in the cities and inured to factory technique and the discipline of the machine.

Nearly three-quarters of our people depend directly or indirectly on wages for a living. Well over three million Australians are technically classified as breadwinners. Fifty per cent, of the total population dwell in the six capital cities. Practically two out of every three Australians live an urban, as distinct from a rural, life. Practically half the number of adult male employes are trade unionists, and the wages of nearly all workers are fixed by wages boards or arbitration courts upon which the trade unions exert a direct and continuous influence. Four of the six Australian States are or have been ruled for long periods by Governments, working- class in political complexion. Australia is indeed largely a working-class continent: a nation of city industrial workers.

Each year, in all the States, thousands of youngsters, fresh from school, join the ranks of the working-class. Flung into factories, just as their minds, bodies and souls are developing, at the most critical time of their lives, they enter an environment which each year becomes more livid with injustice, with sin. Each young worker finds in that environment new needs, new problems, new difficulties, new dangers. From a religious, moral, intellectual, emotional, physical point of view, each young worker runs the gravest risks. He faces alone and virtually unequipped, his future as a family man, a tradesman, a trade unionist, a citizen.

These risks, these dangers, are incidental to the very youth of young workers; they arise from the environment in which they live, from the conditions in which they work, from the institutions which influence them, from the working masses which surround them. In early youth workers are subject to decisive influences which affect the whole future of the working-class. To-day, these influences are steadily making young workers pagan. To-morrow, these influences may make them Marxist. This is the crisis of the working-class.

In the face of this crisis, it is our duty to assert as the first dogma of our Faith, that God calls each young worker to a divine vocation, the sole reason for his existence, the only object of his activity Each young worker is called to be not a beast of burden, not a machine, not a slave: he is called to be a son of God, an heir of God, a co-worker with Christ. A vocation beginning not, after death, but here and now; a vocation he is to fulfil in his office, workshop or factory, in his home, his street, his suburb, his city, his State. Each young worker is called to be an apostle. As the Pope says, the first apostles of the workers must themselves be workers.

If young workers are to undertake this apostolate and resolve the crisis within their ranks, they need an organisation and a technique suited to their needs, to the apostolate to which they are called and to the crisis which they face. They need an organisation which will fit them as young workers for their job in the home, the factory and society. They need an organisation which will not only teach them, but train them to help one another. They need social services which only such an organisation can provide. And they need an organisation which will be really representative of them as young workers; an organisation recognising them for what they are: young workers; an organisation fighting for their rights, helping them fulfil their duties and their apostolate: all this.

There is one such organisation: the Young Christian Workers, known in French as the J.O.C.* Marching to victory in over twenty countries, blessed by countless priests, Bishops and Archbishops, described by Pope Pius XI himself as “an authentic form and the perfect type of Catholic Action,” it is an organisation capable of winning the workers of the world for Christ the King.

* NOTE: In English the Y.C.W. These abbreviations, J.O.C. (Jeunesse Ouvriere Chretienne) and Y.C.W. (Young Christian Workers), are used interchangeably throughout this pamphlet.

Cardijn, Captain of the Working Class


In every age God raises up men to dedicate their lives and talents to the particular religious problems of the times. In this era of industrialism, when millions of men live their lives in the grip of the machine, so inimical to the Christian life, a Belgium priest, Father Joseph Cardijn, has tackled the problem of winning this machine age for Christ. Pope Pius XI considers that he is a man of destiny, sent by Providence, and has blessed his Jociste movement, now spreading through the world, as “an authentic form of Catholic Action.”

Brussels is the capital of squat, flat Belgium, a land black with the smoke of factories and thundering with the roar of machines. In that city you may see the gigantic stone figure of a worker standing above and dominating an old warehouse in the Rue Poincare. Beneath the great stone figure there are the swinging doors of a brasserie. Passing through, you may clink a glass with the railwaymen who gather together after their work. On the second floor is a cafeteria, where factory girls have their meals. On the third floor are offices of administration; on the fourth. 250 young workers live. Above, there is a flat. It is a tiny apartment, hidden at the top of the building; but it is the headquarters of a revolution.

In it lives Father Joseph Cardijn, founder of the Young Christian Workers—or Jocistes, as they are called. In Belgium, over a hundred thousand young workers look to him for leadership; in the world, five hundred thousand salute him as chief. Bishops, priests and laymen wait on his word. Capitalists and Communists fear him. The Pope knows him for what he is: a man saving the working class for Christ and social justice. He brings Catholic life and action down to earth. In forty countries is his influence felt.


Joseph Cardijn comes of working-class stock. In the ‘eighties, when Cardijn was born, a succession of strikes and riots swept through Belgium. Factories were set alight, and Socialists hailed the glare in the sky as a Red dawn. The country was then, and for a generation, it remained only nominally Christian. Nine-tenths of the boys and girls starting work in factories at the age of fourteen gave up all religious practice within a few months In the wake of oppression, injustice and the machine followed a tidal wave of immorality. In the words of the Pope, “multitudes of workers sank into the same morass; all the more so because very many employers treated their workers as tools.” “The mind shudders,” continues the Pope, “at the frightful perils to which the morals of workers and the virtues of girls are exposed in modern factories.. . Bodily labour has everywhere been changed into an instrument of strange perversion; for dead matter leaves the factory ennobled and transformed, where men are corrupted and degraded.”


The working-class of Belgium had not within itself the seed of renewal. Unwittingly, unconsciously almost, workers slipped into Socialism or slunk into despair. Meanwhile, Cardijn grew up, and, entering upon his studies for the priesthood, vowed his life to the service of his own people, the proletariat. While still in the seminary, he saved sufficient to visit England and study there the co-operatives and the trade union movement. Upon his ordination, he taught for a few months at the University of Louvain; but as early as 1911 he was busy in the industrial parish of Laeken, near Brussels, with a group of young workers, some of whom could neither read nor write, studying wages, hours, holidays and housing, the whole working-class environment. He had set out to understand the world he wished to change.

Already, another great priest had founded the A.C.J.B., the Catholic Young Men’s Society of Belgium. Unlike Cardijn’s group, this association studied apologetics and social doctrine in the abstract, gathering young men from all ranks and classes of society and holding their interest by sport, a sort of study and entertainment. It was a defensive organisation; it tried to keep men good by sheltering them from a cold, bad world.


Cardijn, meanwhile, pursued a plan radically different; he specialised. Selecting only those who shared the same social interests, who spoke, thought, worked and lived in the same milieu or environment, he grouped young industrial workers for the purpose of studying, and penetrating and converting sections of the working-class no longer Christian. He gathered, but did not isolate, his workers in order to launch the attack for social justice. He flung good apples into a heap of bad apples, and the bad apples become good.

The war checked everything. Advancing down the Meuse, the Germans took Liege and laid waste the countryside. Both organisations virtually disappeared. When at last, with the armistice, release came, Father Cardijn was appointed director of social works in Brussels, and at once began building a strong union of young workers—La Jeunesse Syndicaliste. But from the new post his eyes greeted a greater vision: he realised that nothing leas than a nation-wide, indeed, a world-wide, movement of young workers could secure the working masses for Christ, the Sun of Justice. Within Ave years—in 1925—the Belgian Bishops approved the statutes of the J.O.C.—the Jocistes or Young Christian Workers’ Movement. Shortly afterwards, others were adopting his methods and doctrine, and adapting their activities and constitutions. By 1927 the whole Catholic Youth Movement of Belgium specialised—adapted itself to the various milieux or environments whence its members were drawn.


The A.C.J.B.—the C.Y.M.S. of Belgium—is now a federation of five specialised branches: the Jocistes, the young Christian workers; the Jacistes, or young Christian peasants; the Jecistes, or young Christian students; the Jucistes, or young Christian undergraduates; and the Jicistes, or young Christian independents. Each has its feminine counterpart, and all follow the methods and doctrine of Canon Cardijn and the Jocistes.

Let Cardijn put his doctrine to you in his own words: “Far more than any other social class, the working-class is immediately and directly exposed to the attacks of new-fangled paganism and of militant atheism, which threaten to plunge the world into barbaric slavery. In the face of this threat, safety is found neither In false measures nor in half measures. It is useless to propose for the working-class mere exterior remedies, from outside or above the working-class. It is useless to propose mere interior remedies, whether economic or spiritual.


“There remains only one means of complete efficacious salvation: the remaking of the whole working-class—a remaking, a renewal, at once spiritual and material, temporal and eternal, personal and social, domestic and civic, by the working-class apostolate, by the working-class laity, by Christ-like Catholic Action in and by the working-class. The whole life, the whole environment, all the institutions of the working-class, the whole working-class and all the working masses, must be brought back to their divine origin, to their divine destiny, to the Sole Reason for their being— on earth as in heaven, in time as in eternity. In every department of life we must strive after the fundamental truth, that from all eternity God has called every worker, every worker’s family, and the whole working-class to participate in His life, His truth, His happiness and His kingdom. Not after death, but here and now, onwards and upwards from birth. For this did God create and redeem us, incorporating us into that Mystical, Collective Christ, His Body, continuing in us the work of Redemption, In our fellow-workers is Christ poor, underpaid, sweated, overworked out of work; Christ the factory hand, Christ the railwayman Christ the miner, alter Christus, Christ the worker.

“Hence,” continued Cardijn, “each worker has an apostolate, tor which he is concretely and exactly responsible; an apostolate as a lover, a husband, a father, a worker, a citizen. An apostolate adapted to the working-class; better adapted to workers than the clothes we wear, the tools we use, or the goods we produce. An apostolate only workers can discharge. An apostolate completing that of the priest, on which it depends. An apostolate without which the Faith and the Church are only a caricature and not a living reality.


As Pius XI says: “The first apostles, the immediate apostles, of workers will be workers.” “Their work is noble,” declares Cardijn. “for without work there is no bread, no wine, no chalice, no ornaments, no altar, no Mass, no church, no religion.” The object of the J.O.C. is to train young workers for adult life on the job as tradesmen, in the home as fathers, in the industry as unionists, and for the apostolate at all times everywhere. The J.O.C. trains men to transform themselves, their homes and their country. It gives them, or, more properly speaking, gets them to give themselves a thorough knowledge of Catholic principles, of Catholic doctrine. especially regarding marriage and social justice, along with a perfect appreciation of technique and a detailed and profound knowledge of everyday life. These young workers know how to run a movement. Their expression technique covers a multitude of methods and a thousand programmes of propaganda. For example, they issue for workers’ sons still at school a paper called “Mon Avenir,” which prepares these small children in every way for working life. Profusely illustrated in several colours, this paper is an excellent compound of Deadwood Dick, religious magazine, propaganda sheet, and vocational training notes.


As soon as a lad leaves school he passes into the cells or sections of the J.O.C. proper, and there receives “La Jeunesse Ouvriere,” a paper for workers whose ages range between 14 and 25. The cells are organised and led by young workers themselves, with the assistance of chaplains. The chaplains have their paper, and the group leaders, the Militants, have theirs. By means of seventeen journals, the whole movement in Belgium embarks on nation-wide campaigns for more intense religious life, more adequate formation for marriage, and for the effective realisation of the revolutionary principles of ¡social justice. Each Jociste section is much more than a Royal Commission. Slums, free-time, sport, social abuses, sweating, low wages, exploitation, saving for marriage, home furnishing, factory ventilation—all are studied continuously, with a view to action.

From the J.O.C., the young workers pass as adults into the Christian Workers’ League. All three movements are financed exclusively by the workers. All arc organised, not on a trade or vocational basis, but on a parish and class basis. All owe their origin and inspiration to Canon Cardijn and to Father Kothen, his right-hand man.

The movement is not only Belgian. Already It has spread enormously in France, Holland, Switzerland, Portugal, Czechoslovakia and Jugoslavia. It is established in Asia, and has grown tremendously in North and South America. In England, under Archbishop Downey, it is an essential instrument of Catholic thought and action.

May the J.O.C.—outside and above all party politics and civil strife—sweep Australia!

The New Paganism

By CANON JOS. CARDIJN, Founder of the J.O.C.


The Church and society are menaced by a new paganism, more violent and more dangerous than that which prevailed in the time of Our Lord and the Apostles.

Pius XI unceasingly denounced it in his latest Encyclicals and in nearly all his allocutions, both public and private.

And the language of the Holy Father is so expressive that it is impossible, after his words, to exaggerate the danger.

The Pope spoke of “a barbarism more frightful than that which still involved the greater part of the world at the coming of the Redeemer… a hatred, a barbarism and a savagery which one would not have thought possible in our times… an unspeakable catastrophe, a collapse which surpasses all imagination.” He denounced the will to “destroy by every means Christian civilisation and religion even in their very foundations, and to efface the memory of them from the hearts of men, especially of the youth.”

He denounced also the pretension “to open up a new era, to inaugurate a new civilisation, the result of a blind evolution: an atheist humanity.” The Pope finally condemned those who wish “to deify by an idolatrous worship the race, the people, the State, the form of Government, the bearers of power in the State, every other fundamental value of human society” and all those who wish to establish “a new aggressive form of paganism” encouraged in many ways by men of influence.


Some members of the clergy, when they speak of atheism and of paganism, think of a greater or smaller number of parishioners who no longer frequent the Church, who no longer come to Mass, who no longer perform their Easter Duty, who no longer have their children baptized. Others think of horrors, of assassinations, of conflagrations, of persecutions which rage in distant countries.

And when these negative or hostile phenomena do not manifest themselves in their own parish, where, on the contrary, the religious functions are attended better than ever, and where the number of Communions is increasing, they accordingly conclude that atheism and paganism are still very far from their parish and their parishioners.

This optical illusion is very dangerous. For it is quite possible that religious practices should be intensified in some parishes, whilst at the same time paganism advances with giant strides throughout the country. These islets which emerge prove nothing in face of the increasing deluge.


When the Holy Father spoke of the new paganism, he was not referring to a greater or smaller number of faithful who desert the Church. On the contrary, he was referring to a sum-total of doctrines, of institutions, of manners, which concern life and society, and which are on the way to bringing about a new world, a new civilisation without God, but with new idols, which give rise to a new code of morals, a new code of law entirely pagan, materialistic, atheistic.

Pagan Doctrines. This modern paganism manifests itself in a new outlook upon everything—a new way of understanding, of explaining, of organising life, society, morality, justice, the nation, the national authority, work, health, free time, love and pleasure … a way which excludes all idea of God, all idea of a spiritual world, all idea of a future life.

Pagan Institutions. There has sprung up a variety public and private institutions which incarnate these pagan doctrines, and which propagate them with an enterprise and a force unequalled in the past—e.g., Totalitarian States, public education in all its stages, organisations of youth and of adults, press, radio, cinema, economic and financial enterprises, paid holidays, institutions of hygiene, spectacular manifestations.

Pagan Manners. Other manifestations of the new paganism are the habits which are spreading with whirling rapidity and which manifest themselves in every milieu: in nudism, neo-malthusianism, the search for ease and comfort, life outside the home, etc.


This new paganism young, audacious, thoroughgoing, totalitarian, aims at winning over the whole world to its conception of life. It aims at organising and improving the whole of life and of society, not in view of the life beyond, not in view of an eternal destiny, but in view of a more attractive earthly life, a happier society, a better world. “Life for life’s sake, society for society’s sake.” These things are no longer means towards another life, but ends in themselves or means in view of ends that arc tangible, temporal and earthly—e.g., the grandeur of the nation, the power of the State, the nobility of work, the abolition of exploitation of the workers by capitalism and the employing class, etc. This constructive and conquering paganism, full of ambition and dynamism, is much more dangerous than the decadent paganism of the time of Nero. The real high priests of Roman paganism no longer believed in their own idols, whilst the false idealisms of to-day—Nationalist, Communist, Materialist—can count an ever-increasing number of priests and martyrs who stop at nothing with a view to the triumph of their new religion. They employ new liturgies, ceremonies, spectacular manifestations, speaking choirs, collective gestures, etc., which have the effect of conquering the masses and spreading abroad a quasi-religious psychology.


The Holy Father does not cease to repeat it—we live in a time of persecution. In totalitarian States it will be a legal and violent persecution; in democratic States it will be an economic, social and moral persecution, which, in all its forms, exercises a veritable tyranny.

We even dare to affirm that our epoch can count more martyrs than there were during the first ten persecutions. At that time, the number of Christians was much more limited. To-day, there are millions of Christians who are struck by persecution either bloody or unbloody.



One remark which deserves our attention is this—that the Hierarchy, the clergy, is not directly nor immediately affected by the danger of this new paganism.

At the birth of Protestantism, the Church was sick in its head, in the court of Rome, in the prelature, the clergy and the religious Orders. Today, the Hierarchy and the clergy are unscathed. In this respect, there was never a period more brilliant for the Church: Pope, Bishops, priests and religious rival one another in zeal and sanctity.


The parochial milieu itself is not touched, nor directly aimed at. The parochial church, the parochial religious services, the parochial premises, the parochial works, the parochial ministry remain, as it were, outside the course of the modern paganism. The manifestations of this paganism make themselves felt only in an indirect way, by absenteeism from Mass or by the creation of a double conscience among Christians. And what is more, a recrudescence of parochial fervour can, for a certain time, go along side by side with the progress of the surrounding paganism.


The new paganism strikes directly the secular milieu, secular life, the secular mass, the secular institutions. It is the last and most extreme stage of secularism, which, following upon Protestantism, has developed in the contemporary world, and which ends in a violent spasm of the moat absolute atheism and most brutal paganism. It la the logical and almost fatal development of the evolution already described by the Holy Father six years ago: “As in other epochs of the Church, we are face to face with a world fallen back for the most part into paganism.”


It is to a great extent by its concern for objects that are attractive and good In themselves that the modern paganism wins over the masses of the people, and even at times attracts the moat intelligent minds and the most upright characters. And this fact had never before been insisted on with such vigour and precision as by the late Holy Father in his Encyclicals, “Divini Redemptoris” and “Mit brennender Sorge.” The Pope returned to this matter unceasingly, sometimes to unmask the ruses and deceits of those who propagate the error, at other times to arouse the zeal and vigilance of Catholics. “To diffuse a more humane mode of life, to render work honourable, to lift up the worker, to prevent sickness, to promote health, to improve the race, to exalt the nation, to procure respect for the State and love for the Fatherland, to bring about world peace,” these immediate objectives and others of a like nature are put forward as the end which the modern paganism under its various manifestations pursues. The Church, and religion generally, are denounced as the adversaries, the obstacles to the realisation of this progress. The Church and religion, by speaking only of the life beyond, only of eternity, are like opium, the cause of all the abuses, all the negligences, all the delays which stand in the way of the amelioration of this present life and of society.



It is for the Hierarchy and the clergy—in virtue of its power of orders and of jurisdiction—to direct and to render possible the victory over this modern paganism. It is to the Hierarchy and the clergy, the depositories of the doctrine, the grace and the very person of Christ, that belongs by divine right the official and public mission of guiding and sustaining the faithful in this decisive battle for the future of Christianity.


The parish is, in the Church, the normal channel by which the Hierarchy and its mandatory, the parochial clergy, spread abroad this doctrine and these graces, and communicate the person of Christ, by which all the faithful must be nourished if they are to become living and conquering members of that Mystical Christ, who has to pursue his work of Redemption right till the end of the world. Without the doctrine, the graces and the person of Christ, there can be no victory over the new paganism.


But—let it not be forgotten—the Hierarchy and the clergy are powerless of themselves to combat and to conquer the modern paganism. The same is true of the parochial ministry and the parochial organisations. The modern paganism is beyond their reach. It is their duty to furnish the doctrine and the graces necessary to combat it. But they themselves cannot combat and conquer it on its own ground, in its own milieu, in its own institutions, in its own manifestations. The tactic indicated by Pope Pius XI, namely, that “the first apostles, the immediate apostles of the workers must themselves be workers,” must be generalised. The first apostle, the immediate apostle in the fight against laicism, will be the laity; the lay milieu must become a milieu of lay apostolate. We must organise the conquest of the milieu by the milieu.


The most recent declarations of the Holy Father are truly moving. The Pope sees in Catholic Action the remedy willed by Providence, the very hand of Providence itself, for saving the Church from the menace of paganism. This new paganism gives to lay life, to the lay milieu, and to lay institutions, an atheistic, materialistic, and exclusively temporal significance; the laity, directed and inspired by the Hierarchy, will give back to them their religious significance, their apostolic value, their eternal destiny.


In Catholic Action, it is not a question of an apostolate that is private, secondary, partial. No, it is a question of the Hierarchy officially and publicly giving to the lay organisation which it mandates, a share in its own Hierarchical apostolate.

Catholic Action is thus definitely raised to the rank of an institution of the Church, an official, public and primordial institution which Pope Pius XI has never been prepared to sacrifice in any of the Concordats which he has signed.


It is this battle against the modern paganism that imposes on Catholic Action its national organisation, its methods, its institutions and its services. While remaining totally and exclusively under the authority of the Hierarchy, Catholic Action must have its field of action, its influence and its effective contact in precisely the same places as has the modern paganism. National unity and control must be regarded as conditions essential to the prestige and efficacy of Catholic Action.

The parochial section is simply the whole of Catholic Action adapting itself in a particular region to the needs, the difficulties and the conquests that have to be made in that region.

The national Federation is simply the whole of Catholic Action reconquering the whole of life, the whole mass, all the milieux, all the institutions of the nation.

And against the world-wide paganism which menaces certain milieux more especially, do we not see the world-wide front of Catholic Action co-ordinating and uniting more and move the efforts and the achievements of the national organisations for an assault and a conquest that is truly universal?


Against this ensemble which constitutes the new paganism —doctrines, institutions, manners—with all its various influences on secular life, on the lay milieu and the lay masses, Catholic Action appears also as an ensemble, an organised whole, which is at one and the same time and inseparably a school, a service, and a representative body, guaranteeing that formation, action and organisation which are necessary for the gigantic contest which is to decide the fate of Christian civilisation. The conquest of the milieu by the milieu. Catholic Action thus places at the service of the Hierarchy the ensemble of organised lay forces with the maximum return and efficacy for the fight against paganism on its own ground.


Thus does Catholic Action frustrate, positively and victoriously, all the ruses and deceptions of the modern paganism. All the real values which the paganism pretends to reveal, all the temporal and social advances which it pretends to realise, all the good and attractive objects which it proposes, Catholic Action likewise proposes, realises and reveals in a marvellous manner. The lay sphere of life, the lay milieu, the lay mass, the lay institutions, are thus transformed into a magnificent field of apostolate conformable to the divine plan. The laity discover in Catholic Action and attain therein their real vocation in the Church and in the world. All the objections against the Church and against religion are thus refuted by concrete achievements which produce a veritable revolution, spiritual and pacific, which give to earthly life and society their providential place and signification for the building up of the kingdom of God in time and in eternity.


Catholic Action, then, is not a new work alongside of existing parochial or extra-parochial works. It is not a rival to the old-established works. It is the utilisation of all existing works in view of the organised participation of the laity in the conquest of modern life, modern milieux, modern institutions, so as to free them from the spirit of paganism and to animate them anew with the spirit of Christianity. It is the essential mission of the Church to which the laity is solemnly summoned under the authority of the Hierarchy. It is the general mobilisation of all the Catholic forces in view of the crusade against what is really a new barbarian invasion.


Consisting, as it does, of a transformation and conquest from within, a conversion of heart and of conduct, the apostolate will never be accomplished by a movement or a doctrine that invokes violence and force. Catholic Action is essentially pacific. The organisation and discipline of Catholic Action, while calling for absolute and unlimited devotion, are, nonetheless, essentially free and voluntary. Catholic Action cannot be imposed by violence or by force. It is really the victory of Faith and of Charity. The apostolate, be it lay or priestly, is a question of grace, of conviction, of generosity and devotion. Catholic Action is the expansion of the human person. It is the salvation of humanity in face of a new slavery.


As H.E. Cardinal van Roey remarked at a national reunion of Flemish chaplains, the Y.C.W. possesses title of nobility and letters of credence such as no other apostolic movement can show. Its hierarchical mandate has been confirmed so solemnly and so often that it can no longer be called into doubt. The Y.C.W. is indeed an institution of the Church, official and public, commissioned by the Hierarchy to reconquer the working youth from the menace of paganism.

The Y.C.W. is the revolution, the fruitful revolution, the final revolution. May our chaplains spur them on to it. This spirit of conquest should be inculcated unceasingly. All partial conquests are only means and stages towards the final conquest. And all material and temporal conquests are only instruments with a view to the spiritual and eternal conquest.

Against the Anti-Christ who threatens to overwhelm youth and the world generally with horrors and massacres, the Y.C.W. wishes to guarantee the victory of Christ the King, who alone can bring truth, life, prosperity, peace and joy.

The Young Christian Workers’ Movement

By the REV. FATHER R. KOTHEN, Assistant Chaplain-General of the Young Christian Workers.


First it must be shown that it is recognised by the Church as a type of Catholic Action. This is what Pope Pius XI. wrote to Cardinal Van Roey, Archbishop of Malines, in a letter dated April 19, 1935, on the occasion of the World Congress of the Y.C.W., April 25, 1935, celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Belgian Y.C.W.:

“Ten years have passed since the association of the ‘Jeunesse Ouvriere Chretienne’ began in your country with such happy auguries. Pausing a moment to-day to look over the ground it has covered and the great and admirable work it has realised, it cannot fail to recognise the hand of God Who has deigned to smile on its undertakings. For it is not only in Belgium that it has developed—strengthening Catholicism there and bringing new leaders to it—but it has gone beyond its frontiers to an extent that it is assuredly allowable to believe that it will extend still further in the future, adapting itself to the various local circumstances in conformity with the desires of the Bishops. And it could not well be otherwise, since it is an authentic form of Catholic Action appropriate to the present time, and since, following the urgent counsels of our Holy Mother the Church, it concentrates its attention and its efforts on the working class, often borne down under the weight of misery and deceived by fallacious errors. What man, therefore, who still retains the meaning of, and desire for, virtue could fail to admire this multitude of young people, in whom so many hopes for civil and religious society repose? An extensive knowledge of religion, a solid faith, an invincible charity throwing itself into so many holy enterprises, a never failing optimism which shows form a filial integrity of conduct, a true modesty united to a great strength of soul, such are the qualities they aim at in order to serve Catholic Action efficaciously, and in that way to assist the ecclesiastical Hierarchy in the exercise of the Apostolate.”

And quite recently in another document, Cardinal Pacelli, writing to Cardinal Verdier, said: “It is unnecessary to recall the evidences of his paternal encouragement and trust which the Supreme Pontiff has always given to the Y.C.W.”

For the Y.C.W. was founded to recall the world of labour to Christ, beginning with the young worker who is particularly dear to the heart of Christ and of His representative on earth. It is true that Christ loves all men with an infinite love. But it is no less true that He has a special regard for those whose lives are hard. Did He not give them special preference when, on His coming into this world, He made Himself not only a man but a Workman? The Pope declares once again that the workers should help each other, that the uplifting and the salvation of the working classes can, and ought, to be undertaken primarily by themselves. He believes in the workers, in their capacity, in their moral and spiritual resources, in their boundless reserves of generosity. He knows them well. In the complexity of the modern world the working classes take on a growing importance, an importance which it would be stupid and unjust to underestimate. The extent to which the representatives of labour are penetrated with the principles of the Gospel will decide in large measure the extent to which the society of to-morrow will be Christian. It is no longer enough to oppose the difficulties and misfortunes of the times with a chorus of lamentations. A positive work is laid upon us. The Y.C.W. wishes to do this work, with the Grace of God, and already positive results give good hope for the future.

The celebrations in Paris of the tenth anniversary show how the pioneers, following the example set by their older brothers in Belgium, have become, throughout France, a great army of workers. True to their motto, the members are well equipped for the conversion of their comrades. They are resolute to face all sacrifices, as has been shown on more than one occasion, apart from the recent social troubles, in order to hold up in their entirety their high ideal of justice and charity, of brotherly love and friendly collaboration, in an environment of confused ideas and strife.”



The Y.C.W. is thoroughly imbued with realism. The first work that every Y.C.W. must do, consists in making enquiries in order to know the exact situation of the young workers. In small meetings, grouping four or five young workers, the most elementary questions are answered. At what hour do you get up? At what hour does your work begin? How do you get to your factory? Whom do you meet on the way? What do you talk about? What is your particular work? Have you any companions at work? What is their attitude? What are the hygienic and moral conditions? What are your wages? Where do you take your meals? How do you spend your evenings? Do you go to Mass on Sundays? What do you think of during the service? etc., etc. In this way an attempt is made to draw up a complete picture of the worker’s life. The immense distress of thousands of these young workers soon becomes clear.

As an example, consider this from the Manual of the J.O.C.F. “At the present time in our country there are 150,000, perhaps 200,000 working girls. Each year thousands of them, children of 14 years of age, pass without any period of transition from the school to the factory, the workshop or the office. Even a few enquiries are sufficient to verify the fact of the lamentable consequences of all this; the moral abandonment, promiscuity, depraved conditions in which these girls are compelled to work in order to earn their living. And there is no danger of exaggeration; their situation is incredible. The girls in factories—and these form the majority, 87,000 from 14-21 years of age—perform work that is so mechanical and brutalising amidst the noise, and nerve-wracking rush of the machines in an environment that is often indecent, promiscuous and demoralising, that it rapidly defeminises the young girls completely, at the precise age when their nature as women should be awakened and developed.”

The girl engaged in the “professional” crafts of needlework finds, in general, a work more adapted to her temperament and feminine character. But one of its dangers is the perpetual solicitation of luxury. She is young and a trifle vain. How can she fail to be envious of that elegance which she creates for others, when her life, dwelling and dress are so different from everything she sees and produces? And the office worker? It might be thought that in an environment that is often better educated, she would be sheltered from the temptations which surround the factory worker. Unfortunately, the atmosphere of many offices is hardly better than that of the factories. Doubtless immorality there takes on less gross forms, but flirtation installed as the normal relationship between young people and even between married men and girls, a “recherche toilette” made up simply to attract attention, conversation enlightened only by obscenity— all this would seem to put unprotected adolescents in constant danger. For the great enemy of wage-earning youth is isolation, abandonment.


The Y.C.W. equally professes a thorough idealism. All the young workers are called to a divine destiny. “From all eternity, God by an infinite gift of His love has predestined each young worker in particular, and all of them in general, to participate in His nature, His life, His love, His divine happiness. He has decided to give Himself to communicate Himself to them, to enable them to live His life, to enlighten them with his truth, to enable them to take their part in His reign. The young workers are not machines, animals or slaves. They are the sons, the collaborators, the heirs of God. “Dedit eis potestatem Alloc Dei fieri . . . divinae consortes naturae.” (He gave them power to become sons of God . . . partakers in His Divine Nature.) It is their unique, their only, their true destiny, the point of their existence and their work, the origin or all their rights and duties.”

This destiny is not two-fold; on the one hand eternal and on the other temporal, without a bond between them or mutual influence. There is not an eternal destiny by the side of, remote from earthly life, without relation to it. There is no disincarnate destiny, any more than there is a disincarnate religion. It is an eternal destiny incarnate in time, begun in time, realising and developing itself in time, working towards its fulfilment in time, in this earthly life, in the whole of it in all its aspects and applications and realisations; in bodily, intellectual, moral, emotional, professional, social and public life: in the concrete, practical life of every day. Religion is not separated from morality; in the same way man’s eternal destiny is not separated from his temporal destiny. “Et Verbum caro factum est et habitavit in nobis.” (And the Word was made Flesh and dwelt amongst us.) As the Word was incarnate and dwelt among us, so the eternal destiny of each man is incarnate in his temporal life, is developed and realised there—“semper et ubique sicut in coelo et in terra” (always and everywhere as in heaven so on earth).


When we observe the enormous distance which separates the actual situation of the young workers from the ideal to which they are called, we are compelled to say: a vast movement must be created which will help the young workers to escape from their distress in order that they may be able to work out their destiny.

In face of all the problems besetting the life of the young workers, it must be admitted that the religious and moral, social and family formation of the young workers is impossible without an organisation which gathers together all the young workers from the time they leave school until they enter the adult associations. It must be an organisation which does away with isolation and abandonment, which helps them to choose a trade, which prepares them for their new life as workers, watches over them at work and on the way to work, helps them to form themselves, to defend and protect themselves; which studies all the problems of their life as young workers. It must be an organisation which, in brief, assumes all the social services necessary for the education, the safeguarding and defence of the young workers. This movement is the Y.C.W., which gathers together the wage-earning young men and girls from 14 to 25 years of age.



The Y.C.W. intends to be the school of the young workers. It is evident that the years of youth are of the highest importance for physical, intellectual and moral formation. No one has ever dared to claim that this formation ends at 14 . . . and yet it is a fact that working-class youth is abandoned to itself at 14 years of age.

The Y.C.W. intends to continue the work begun by the school, and it ensures by its meetings, its publications and by the whole of its programme, the education of the young workers. It aims to teach youth the function of work, of the family, of the State, or religion. It teaches a philosophy of working life. Further, as a result of its methods it endows its members with habits of life in conformity with the moral discipline of the Gospel. The Y.C.W. constantly appeals to generosity, self-oblation and self-sacrifice.


Secondly, the Y.C.W. intends to be a social service. Each time a need, a necessity becomes evident among the young workers, the Y.C.W. creates a social service to answer it.

We create a social service for every period and every aspect of their lives, and, above all, for their professional life, for environment of work has a decisive influence over the other aspects of the life of the young workers. Whoever neglects to concern himself with all these aspects neglects the conquest of the young workers. The Y.C.W. does not aim only at the religious formation, it aims also at professional formation, for it is in professional life the dignity of a child of God must be given a solid basis. It must become the work of a child of God; not the work of a slave, but a work which must become a divine work.

In passing, we may mention our social services for the soldiers, the unemployed, the sick, for savings and leisure, for the determination of professional ability, job finding, etc.


Finally, the Y.C.W. intends to be the representative body for the young workers. It intends to act upon public and private authorities, on public opinion, and to speak in the name of the young workers. For this purpose it disposes of powerful means of action; its press, its manifestos and petitions, its congresses. Further, by its very existence it is a witness and has a representative value which influences society.

This is how the Y.C.W. obtains increased wages, a better inspection of work, government subsidies for its labour camps, better hours on the railways, more normal conditions of work and travel.

Within the Church the Y.C.W.—commissioned by the Hierarchy—is truly the official organisation of the young workers that speaks and acts in their name.



The aim of the Y.C.W. is to conquer the life of the worker. In the order of Providence it is the whole working life, which has a divine and apostolic bearing. The worker, the worker’s family, the working class are the necessary collaboration of God, of Christ, and of the Church in the work of creation and redemption. Such is the order of Providence. The whole of the worker’s life—everywhere and always—has an apostolic import. Professional life: without work, no host, no wine, no altar, no Mass. Professional life is a prayer, a sacrifice, a prolonged Mass, a vocation, an apostolate. Tlie worker is a missionary, a catechist through and in his work. Work is not a punishment, a curse, an enslavement, but a collaboration with the Creator and Redeemer. The worker at his work is the first minister, the immediate and intimate collaborator of God.


What a new conception of work! What a transformation and revolution of the most humble and painful professional life. The family life of the most humble workers must be conceived as an apostolic life to give to the Church and to the nation priests, missionaries, apostles, which they need; to multiply the number of the elect; to assist in the expansion of the Church. This is the indispensable ideal of every worker’s family.


The Y.C.W. aims at conquering the environment of work. Pius XI., in “Quadragesimo Anno,” remarks that “inert material issues from the workshop ennobled, whilst men come out corrupted and degraded.” And a few lines previously he writes: “It is frightening to think of the great dangers that threaten the morality of workers, especially the youngest of them, and the modesty of women and girls, in the modern workshops; to think of the obstacles often imposed by the present economic regime and especially by the deplorable housing conditions, to the cohesion and intimacy of family life.” The worker’s environment—family, professional, and social—corrupted by the doctrines and practices of the present regime, has become, in its turn, corruptive of all those who work and live in it. It sounds well to have created artificial environments—schools, centres, clubs—and to have tried to influence workers through them. But so long as educational action stops at these artificial environments the working class will not have been saved. What is necessary is to help its daily, habitual environment, its own environment. To teach the workers to understand, and in this way to assist them to act in the transformation of their own environment, to conquer it, to render it conformable to the plan of Providence. But this conquest can only be effected from within, by those who live and work there, and who, like an indigenous clergy, carry on a missionary activity within it. All action at a distance from the outside is inoperative, unless it supports and feeds an action from within.

The environment of work itself—family, professional, and social—must require a new educative, productive and sanctifying value. The family, the workshop, the office, the factory, the workers’ quarters, the trains, the buses, must become means of sanctification, virtue, honour and moral grandeur. The table, the dwelling, the work-bench, must become the altar upon which the working class offers the sacrifice of its toil by uniting itself to the Eucharistic Sacrifice of Christ the Worker.


The Y.C.W. aims at the conquest of the whole mass of the workers. Do we think of this sufficiently? Is it dominant in our minds? Do we see vividly in our imagination that innumerable multitude upon whom Christ had compassion and for whom He died? Are we not blinded by the sight of certain well-filled churches, by the crowds who turn up at some ecclesiastical function? But what of their lives— their daily life? What ignorance, what indifference, not to say total unawareness!



In order to effect this conquest there must be militants. We mean to conquer the immense mass of the young workers whose conditions of life are actually in contradiction with their eternal and temporal destiny, but who, nevertheless, must attain that destiny. The whole of the Y.C.W. is reducible to the solution of this problem which is the key of the Y.C.W. movement, of its activity and organisation, the central point of the formation of the militants. The militants compose the general staff, the stable nucleus of leaders, the local nucleus in the parishes, the nucleus in this factory, this quarter, this street, this city; not only a local nucleus, but a regional nucleus which unites all the leaders of each region who form a common front, and finally, at the top, a national nucleus of militants— and all of them lay leaders from the first to the last. All these nuclei form the centre, the heart of the Y.C.W.—almost the whole of the Y.C.W. As are the militants, so will the parochial, regional, national Y.C.W. be.

The small nucleus of militants with which we begin a section is formed by setting up a section in the locality, making propaganda, making visits to the young workers in their homes, getting in touch with the regional centre and through that with the national centre, always keeping in mind the conquest of the environment of work, of that mass of young workers whose leaders they hope to become by accepting before God and before the Y.C.W. movement the responsibility of assisting that mass of young workers to attain their eternal and temporal destiny.


But there are no militants without priests. The role of the priests in the Y.C.W. is to be that of the person who through his sacerdotal character communicates doctrine, grace and the Sacraments; and is their channel and depository. He must raise up militants, arm them, form them, for they are the nucleus and centre of the Y.C.W. without whom no conquest is possible. The priest will give them faith in their conquest; if necessary he will make them ready to be martyrs. He will also give them not only the spirit of conquest, but the technique of conquest. And it is for this that he will place his heart, his doctrine, the sacerdotal means of which he disposes, at the service of the militants of the Y.C.W., at the service of the Y.C.W. laity, the militia of the Church militant of whom he has the spiritual paternity.


All these efforts must obey a common discipline. The Y.C.W. is a vast organisation. Y.C.W.’s are inscribed in parochial sections. They pay an annual subscription. Thanks to the total amount of subscriptions and to the sale of the Y.C.W. journals, the Belgian Y.C.W. has 250 young propagandists and employes paid by the movement.

The Y.C.W. issues a whole series of publications and has fifteen reviews. The Y.C.W.’s are summoned monthly to parochial assemblies; the militants meet each week in study circles. Further, they are summoned once a month by the Federation in order to be given directions or for a day’s retreat. Once a year the militants assist at study weeks and retreats. From time to time a Congress assembles all the Y.C.W.’s of a region or a country. Methodical campaigns are undertaken for the purpose of obtaining security, morality, etc., for seeing that the young workers perform their Easter duties, etc.


After twelve years of activity in Belgium, surprising results are already observable. We have 8,000,000 inhabitants, about half of whom constitute the working class. There are about 700,000 young workers and working girls from 14-25 years.

Of these, 85,000, or 10 per cent., already belong to the Y.C.W. The militants number 7,000, or one per cent. It is thus consoling to observe that one worker out of every hundred has an apostolic soul and a corresponding influence around him. And there are already numerous localities which have been completely transformed and which are gradually returning to their providential purpose. There are, for example, a great number of workshops where the entire personnel pray together at 3 p.m. on Good Friday, in memory of the Redeemer’s death. It must be remembered that in Belgium the great majority of the working class adheres to Socialism, and that Belgian Socialism is violently anti-religious. These results of the Y.C.W. thus represent a real religious conquest amongst the secularised masses.

The Y.C.W., born in Belgium, rapidly spread beyond the frontiers. In 1927 France created a similar movement, and now, ten years after, there are already 100,000 French Y.C.W.’s. Gradually other countries imitated Belgium, Holland, Portugal, Luxemburg, Switzerland. In Spain we have several groups; several leaders and chaplains of Catalonia have been shot and their offices burnt; but good news continues to come from Burgos, Granada and Valladolid. Here in England many groups are in process of formation. Quite recently a vast Y.C.W. movement was created in Austria and Yugoslavia. In French Canada there is a strong Y.C.W., and it is gradually influencing the U.S.A. In South America, the episcopate of Columbia and Brazil have officially recognised the movement. In Africa, Algeria, Tunis, Morocco and the Belgian Congo flourishing sections exist. One can therefore understand the real confidence expressed in the dramatic performance given at the Congress on August 25, 1935, assembling 100,000 young workers of fifteen countries. Ten years ago, Y.C.W., how many were you? Less than 500

And to-day?, 100,000

And to-morrow? Millions

It will be realised that In all this there is an immense hope for the Church. For, let us not forget that behind this army of young workers in the front line, there are the young agricultural workers and the young intellectuals, and together with the army of youth, there is the army of adults. Listen to the words of the founder of the Y.C.W.: “I am convinced— and I always come back to the thought, because it seems to me to be true—that we are at a turning point of history. Religion must repenetrate social, professional and family life to its roots, in order that that life shall develop and become fully human and that the whole of the society be reChristianised. Then there will be the true revolution, the true Catholic Action, the work of works, which shall not be merely a plaster on a wooden leg, but a true renaissance, a renovation, a spiritual revolution.”


The one means of combating Communism is to establish a spiritual communion between souls in order to put them at the service of the Church, of Society, or 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.

And this is how one is enriched and developed spiritually, and also, it should be well noted, the only way, ultimately, to material and temporal enrichment, at least in an orderly and stable manner.

Faced with the danger of catastrophe which threatens society, we pray that this organisation of young workers, and in time of the whole working class, may increase in strength, may become irresistible; so that in the midst of a pagan society there may be built a Christian society with lives and families and institutions that are Christian. Then shall be established the social reign of Our Lord Who alone can ensure peace to the world and prosperity in time and eternity.

The Methods of Jocism

By PAUL McGUIRE, Founder, Catholic Guild of Social Studies, Adelaide


J.O.C, 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 text-book on how to start a Jocist study circle (“Comment debuter dans un cercle if etudes jociste.” Fourth edition, JOC, 12 avenue Soeur-Rosalie, Place d’Italie, Paris, 3e.) I am indebted also to notes by Father Decan. CP., of Holy Cross, Belfast, whose translation of the text has been 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 act on 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 class room 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 to 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, from the first suggest action.

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, or 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?

And how did we ourselves start work? How much of this applies to us?

Do young workers we know stick to their jobs? Why do they change? To get better wages or to follow a pal? Or because of the boss?

Do you think 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 can JOC do to help boys starting in life?

What can we do here and now for the boys we know?

Do we know boys about to leave school, boys looking for work? Couldn’t we try to help them by talking about all this, discussing jobs with them, lending them “My Future” (a JOC publication)? Could we talk to their parents, tactfully?

Do the young workers we know like their work? (Or do they go to the job as they might go to “six months’ hard,” and because they can’t help themselves? Why don’t they like their work? Is it because of the bosses? Or their workmates? Or the job itself? Or the place? Or their lack of training?

What do they do to improve their skill? Do they go to night schools? Do they read?

What hours are worked in our town, our shops, our 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 dote, 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 best methods and approaches. If they fail once, they return to the problem next time—end 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 our handbook?

Couldn’t things be remedied? Could not each of us do something straight away? What? Being better at work? Being better trained? Insisting on safety first precautions and the proper observance of rules? Helping unemployed to look for jobs?

All this (and it will be understood that I give a sketchy outline rather than a record) promotes social consciousness and a social conscience. The young workers are examining their milieu. And at each meeting they will return to the suggestions made at the last. What was actually attempted and done? What failed? Why? What do we do now?


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

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

And, then, again, the suggestion to action:

What can each of us do to make living conditions better? At home, for instance? Can we be helpful, tidier, make things that are useful for the family. Couldn’t we tell the comrades ways in which they could make their homes pleasanter? Couldn’t we go and give them a hand?

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 comers? 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 say about getting 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 Christiana? What art the Gospels? Who was Christ? What is the Church? What are the two chief Commandments? Can we practise them in our dally lives? How can we apply them to our mates at work? In the street? At home?

What great men give the young workers example? Can the workers hope to improve their lot if we all return to Christ? Among the lads we know, who might be an ally? Have we a mate who will help us to influence the other lads?

How can we serve Christ better? How many lads do we know who might be won to us by Christian charity? Who will help us extend our influence? Who will help us help a mate In need? Who will help the boys just beginning work?

How can we make Christ better known and loved? By discussion? By practising the virtues He wants us to practise?

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.


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:

Prayer or the Jocist hymn (I have been making ardent efforts at an English version, but I am afraid it is still unfit for publication),

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.

Minutes, sometimes formal, sometimes (to vary the monotony) a paraphrase of the last proceedings given by a member.

Consideration of the jobs set at the previous meeting. What has succeeded? What failed? Why? What do we do next?

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.)

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.

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.

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 work 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 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 Jocists publications (did I mention that JOC publishes over 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.


Enrolment of new Jocists takes 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 Father 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; this pamphlet may well close with one, too:


Lord Jesus,

Teach me to be generous,

To serve You as You deserve to be served.

To give without counting the cost,

To fight without counting the wounds,

To work without seeking rest,

To spend my life without expecting any other return than the knowledge that I do Your Holy Will.


My thanks are due to Canon Jos. Cardijn (3), and the Rev. Father R. Kothen (4), both of the Secretariat-General de la J.O.C., 79 Boulevard Poincare, Brussels; to the Rev. Father F. Bennett, Mosgiel, N.Z. (3); to the Secretary, Archdiocesan Board of Catholic Action, Liverpool, England (4); to the editors of the Melbourne “Advocate” (2 and 5), and “Catholic Worker” (11, and the N.Z. “Bulletin of the Chaplains of C.A.” (3); to Mr. Paul McGuire (5); and to the Rev. Father J. Murtagh, of the “Advocate,” for their assistance in enabling me to prepare this pamphlet for publication by the Australian Catholic Truth Society. The numbers in brackets refer to the several parts of this pamphlet which may not be reprinted without the consent of the persons against whose names the numbers appear.—K.T.K.