Religious orders form a pool of missioners
Present situation fraught with dangers, says the Cardinal
PLANS to deal with the urgent problem of the moral and spiritual welfare of the tens of thousands of young Irish men and women who have come and still are coming to this country in search of work are announced by Cardinal Griffin in his Trinity Sunday pastoral letter.
With the collaboration of the Hierarchies of the two countries, a pool of missioners has been established to preach in the camps in England and Wales where many
thousands of Irish workers are housed and in the parishes where there is a sizeable Irish community.
The missioners are volunteers from all the principal religious orders in Ireland.
In the 10 years since the war, says His Eminence, the Catholic population of England and Wales has increased by over 750,000 and " the greater proportion of this increase has undoubtedly come from Ireland."
There are now 800.000 Irishborn people in Britain and the vast majority are Catholics, Close on 250,000 are in the London area. The Catholic population of the Westminster diocese has increased since the war by over 30 per cent.
" It is imperative," says the Cardinal, " that these new immigrants should be fired with the same zeal as inspired so many of those who came to this country in former years.
" They must be true sons of St. Patrick, missionaries, apostles, carrying the torch of faith into their new surroundings.
" Yet it would he idle to pretend that the present situation is not fraught with difficulties and dangers. These exist to be overcome.
" It is the joint responsibility of the Catholics of our two countries to ensure that this mass movement of population be turned to the benefit of the Church.
"We cannot at this stage afford to lose ourselves in argument about the wisdom of emigration from Ireland. We have to face up to the fact that Catholic boys and girls, most of them in thetr teens, are crossing the Irish Sea in everincreasing numbers.
" It is not sufficient that we should think in terms of saving their faith. We must take every step to ensure that they prove a credit to their native land and are fully integrated within the Catholic community in this country.
" We would emphasise that the atmosphere into which they will pass is not hostile. The large towns in which most of these immigrants will be housed contain no more undesirable elements and hold no more dangers than face any youngsters in any city far from home.
" But this is not a Catholic country. The atmosphere of faith in which these young people have been reared will be absent. They will be surrounded by materialist conditions and they will be questioned about truths and values which in the past they have taken for granted.
" It is essential that they should both realise that these questions are not necessarily posed in an antagonistic fashion and be capable of defending the truths of their holy religion.
" We have been much concerned at the extreme youth of many of
those coming to this country in search of employment, a large number being young girls of no more than 18 years of age.
" If such young people mutt leave their homes in Ireland, it is vitally necessary that those responsible for them should make enquiries in advance regarding their place of employment and the place in which they are to live. . .
"Too often young Irish men and women arrive in London with no more than an out-of-date address of an earlier immigrant.
" Given the necessary advance information, the Legion of Mary and other Catholic organisations In this country can make preliminary enquiries. meet the new arrival, and even arrange satisfactory lodgings.
" We warmly commend the efforts made in recent years to establish Catholic hostels for the immigrants. Lists are also being compiled of satisfactory lodgings and everything possible is being done at this end to safeguard the interests of those coming into this country.
" But the success of these efforts must depend upon the use by the Irish themselves of the facilities offered them.
"I am very happy to make known that in all these matters the Irish Hierarchy and our own Hier .
archy are working in the closest
collaboration. The Irish Bishops share oui earnest desire that those
(Continued on page 6)