1952 – Talk to seminarians

 Patrick Keegan

Notes for a talk at a seminary 1952


1. Thanks to Father Rector for privilege of speaking here.

2. Particular thanks to him for his hospitality to us on the training course

Brief History of the YCW:

1. The Lay Apostolate Conference

1,200 delegates – First in history – Great details of it

Canon Cardijn – Great welcome he received –A pioneer in the Lay apostolate – after this reception my thoughts on his start of the YCW – To me as a layman the outstanding points of his start:

a. Starting with a few

b. His belief in the possibilities for the apostolate of the young workers

c. His desire to train fellows and girls who would transform their neighbourhood work and make it Christian

d. The expansion into France – 1927 –The effect the movement has had there – Commencement in England and English-speaking countries

A. How we started

B. Present strength

C. Campaigns and influence

D. Services, pre-Y, Pre-marriage, Forces

E. Non-Catholics, apostolic possibilities

Fundamentals at the Heart of the YCW:

1. Situation of young workers in the world

A. Rapid growth of industrialism in under-developed countries i.e. Entrance of girls into industry in No. Africa

B. South Africa – Leaving their tribes for the city – Situation around Johannesburg – Alec1 Paton’s book Cry the Beloved Country

C. Danger that we repeat in these new countries the same mistakes we made when Europe was becoming industrialized with one hand we fight Communism and with the other we create the situation on which it breeds

D. Problems of housing, professional guidance, illiteracy

The Big Question:

1. Who are these young workers? Are they animals – machines?

2. What is their vocation?

3. They are called to be sons of God in and through the whole of their life, their work, their neighbourhood, their district

Look at the contradiction:

1. How is it to be solved? From within by grouping tne young workers locally, regio ally, nationally, and internationally m to an organization that understands their aspirations – that is worker – that is apostolic

A. Missionaries of the interior. What the Holy Father said – St Theresa

B. A movement that will educate

1. An education of discovery movement that will serve

C. A movement that will serve

1. The spirit of service

2. The organized service – Some examples:

A. Campaign for paid vacation

B. Service of preparation for marriage

C. Service of prep, for work

D. Apprenticeship

E. Employment service

D. a representative body – If the situation of the young worker must be known to public and private bodies some results of representation – UNO, ILO, UNESCO, nationally with governments

To sum up the movement that will solve the problem of tne you g worker must be of young workers, be missionary, be truly apostolic, taking its mission from Christ’s church, a movement tnat will educate, serve and represent.

International situation:

1. The world in a tremendous flux. Sometimes it seems that it is at its lowest ebb. How is it to be transformed: Only through the whole Mystical Body working – For every person converted there are 50 born into paganism – Population increasing.

2. This transformation is going on particularly in the lay areas. If we had all the priests we needed the job would still not be done.

Lay people must be trained and equipped to penetrate into the corners of life. I humbly put that priest workmen are not the solution. It is the hard often uninspiring work of training stupid people like myself. The vital areas for the future of life:

A. The working problem

B. The economic problem

1. People do not join Communism because they hate God. They join because under Communism they think they will remedy the working situation – I don’t know, have the rights given by God to human beings been honoured. There is a danger that we should judge the world of work on what is happening in the U.S.

2. Under-developed areas now are receiving machineries to produce goods which will produce money.

How will this wealth be distribute For this worker role in the economic sphere laymen must be trained and equipped

C. Political life

1. Here future structures are being made – The dual conscience

All this is the layman’s field.

D. International life

1. If the papal ideas on world pence had been put into practice how different things might have been

a. Selfish nationalism


1. The breakdowns that are occurring are in the lay areas.

2. The breakdown will become worse unless some leadership arises from lay people in the Catholic Church

3. When we put all this into the contest of the U.S. she is the greatest industrial nation in the world. Whatever happens here affects for good or bad, development in other countries.

4. No solution of the world worker problem unless a solution is found here

5. The U.S., through the events of history, have tremendous power, wealth, power of production, mineral wealth, tremendous political, military and economic power. That is why we must have a strong lay apostolate over here.

– Not the long-haired intellectual types, but springing from the case of local sections.

–The best method I know are the specialized movement, and for those who are working, the YCW


1. There are no lay apostles without priests, just as there were no apostles without Christ who will give to the young worker the knowledge of his vocation, who will disclose to him the beautiful doctrine and treasures of the church. (In handwriting: What they are studying is vital … sacrifice)

2. Without this lay apostolate, what is to happen?

3. My conversation with the Holy Father asking for priests

– The Kindness of the Holy Father

3. Our task to prepare the meeting of Christ with the working people of the world.


English YCW Archives

1Refers to Alan Paton’s 1948 book Cry the beloved country.