P. Keegan, 21.6.51.
It is a great privilege for me to convey to all members of the YCW of Australia, the very best wishes and congratulations of the International YCW on this your 10th birthday celebrations.
I convey to you specially the good wishes of the English YCW, bound as we are by a common language and other ties of a very strong character. We have been very happy to welcome Fr Lombard, Terry Barber and Frank McCann. As a matter of fact our Headquarters without an Australian just doesn’t seem to be complete. All of us ever here remember with a deep and profound gratitude the comradeship of those Australians who shared with us the difficulties of war.
During the last ten years the YCW has grown in extent and influence throughout the world and in particular the English speaking world.
In the United States, Canada, South Africa, the movement la growing bringing with this growth the pledge of the co-operation of millions of working youth in these countries. In 1947 I had the pleasure to welcome your national Presidant Ted Long, when he arrived in Montreal for the great Congress of the YCW in 1947.
At that same meeting, I had the privilege of welcoming that son of a working family, a prince of the Church, Cardinal Mindszenty, soon to be bludgeoned by the self styled defenders of the working people of the world.
Last September, representatives from the YCW from countries with 1,000,000 young workers at our celebrations in Brussels demonstrated their belief and conviction in that fundamental and universal truth, that lies at the very heart of our work and effort in the YCW – the dignity of the young worker.
We believe with our heart and soul that every working fellow and girl without a single exception, irrespective of their colour or country is called to an eternal destiny and vocation as a son or daughter of God – not an animal – not a machine, but a person possessing a magnificent vocation. We further believe that anything in his life of home, work or neighbourhood that hinders him from discovering or attaining this tremendous vocation constitutes the problem that he must solve.
This truth is a universal truth to which there cannot be the slightest exception. It is true for the Negro, the Chinese, the Hindu, the Japanese just as it is for the whites. It is the truth least understood or apparently only understood as a principle to be applied in a selective way. At this hour of history, it is the truth which if practically applied to men and institutions can change and transform the world.
For those engaged in the apostolate in Europe, everything points to Australia, being an unrivalled land of apostolic opportunity. Australia is seen as a nation where men are still free to build institutions and public life on Christian principles, untrammelled by the relics or backwash of the barbarian that accompanied the rise of industrialism in the countries of Europe
Seeing the results of industrialism in Europe – the black spotq of its inhuman production, unjust distribution and exhausting labour, one must believe that in a country like yours free to choose the pattern of future construction, that the mistakes of Europe can be avoided.
Our task in the YCW is to produce through home, neighbourhood, school and work, men and women capable of building a Christian society – men and women willing to accept as a great privilege all the personal sacrifice entailed by this most practical work.
We know this will only be possible by following working youth at this very moment into the heart of their real life – giving them the means to discover not only their own place and responsibility in Christ’s plan, hut the place of their factory, neighbourhood, mine and office.
Our movement is the university for working youth, where we can discover the meaning and purpose of our life – where we can discover more and more the Christian conception of work, leisure and community – a conception lived and made real and not remaining in the realm of theory. Through our work in the movement we must discover the Christian “ideal of life”. An ideal when grasped will never allow a flinching at difficulties.
In Europe the YCW has faced an industrial set up based on the conception of men as a commodity – a means of production. Far too much of our work has been spent in bringing remedies to the effects of a system basically wrong in conception.
Fortunately, in your country you now stand at the threshold of great industrial development. You can plan it in the way that you wish. It must be planned on the basis of the Christian (conception) of the human person. In order that this may be done, Australia needs at this very moment men and women with profound Christian convictions willing to give themselves to this task, willing to share in the making and execution of these plans on which so much will depend for the future.
A Christian Australia is a worthwhile target for all members of the YCW. A Christian Australia is vital for the whole Pacific world. One knows that millions of people in the Far East are hungrily looking for an ideal of life pressed down as they are by an economic and social misery unknown in such intensity in Europe, it is in this setting that Australia must take her responsibility as the torch bearer of Christian values – geographically set as she is the spring board for the Far East.
English YCW Archives