Sip,-For the love of Mike and
the preservation of all our sanity may I ask in what way your " Youth " features of the past few weeks are related to thc problem of how best to continue the education of our Catholic boys and girls? The problem of " Youth," about which so much is said and so little is still being done, is simply that, and upon its recognition depends the value and the future of the work.
It is inspiring to find even one voice urging the truth of this, and Bishop Marshall's words at Blackburn should be well noted by everyone interested. The remainder of the picture is to me just pathetic Father McNabb gave us Mgt before his death the figure of the " Social pyramid resting on its apex " -the official Catholic Youth movement provides a near wallet Organisations and associations have appeared long berme the groups they were supposed to organise, local clubs have been established in many parishes at a word from " above," and without previous consideration as to purpose. programme or leadership, and far too often the old gang, alieady in the saddle in the multitudinous Catholic Societies of pre-war days. have jumped eagerly astride the new Youth "mount" and are riding it to death, The colt might be described as a two-year-old eeding, out of Inertia, by Government Circular; its name is Limelight, and it carries overweight.
Whenever these gentlemen are in doubt as to future action, they rally. which has ever been the prerogative of the prostrate. It would he hard to say whether the criticism or the defence of the " Stoll Rally " were the more amusing. Both were so oicliehtfully Irrelevant to all the issues affecting the real, vital individual Catholic boy and girl of to-day and to-morrow. who would fail completely to recognise themselves as the kind of modern youth pictured in these columns, cornnlete with reach-me-down halo and blue-prints of the Brave New World. That such people do exist, who am 1 to deny? All I know is that in a very long and very intimate and stillcontinuine daily exoerience, I have never met them. T hope I never shall.
'Your " platforno personalities,"
"born speakers," "brilliant organisers" and the like, about whom you have treated us to some pretty bickering, may have their value if we really do desire to take a leading part in the Ballyhoo and Mass Hypnotism which passes so often for Youth Service. Mr. J. F. Bourke is reported as saying (though it seems incredible) that it is better for Youth to be " bold and wrong " than " weak and right " in presenting a case, and no doubt the advice might he applicable to legal pleading. One dear girl states in your correspondence columns that she was so inspired by the Stoll Rally that she can now " start in her own humble way and with the blessing of her Church to set the world to rights," In my own locality a responsible leader suggests that " Catholic Youth might well salute with fists clenched on their rosaries.," end another claims to have been a " Youth Leader at the age of 13." Highly educated products of the older universities are paraded before us as representative speakers from the ranks of East End Youth, and "Milford Junior" 'enfolds us all in his atmosphere of moonlight and roses. Examples of this sort of mentality might be multiplied ad nauseam.
Rallies have little relation to realities. " 2.200 Young People Present a SixPoint Charter " makes a magical and mathematical headline, hut what does it mean? And when " 6.000 Catholic youths publicly pledge themselves to Christ in all things " one is tempted to ask whether they are not already baptised and confirmed. Youth properly mishandle& "and worked up to a fever pitch in rousing song and trumpeting" will readily pledge itself to anything, but whilst all this hysterical stuff may impress the less sophisticated schoolgirls or the more senile members of youth committees, we musn't allow it to impress us or distract us from the work in hand. Uniforms, too, make For a convenient uniformity, but we shall never march into heaven (or even heaven on earth) in column of threes: and whilst time and energy are wasted in this sort of nonsense, " the hungry sheep look up and are not fed."
Here and there, thank heaven, people are getting down to brass-tacks, hut perhaps brass-tacks are not romantic enoSigh to publicise. I met two grand priests at a N.A.B.C. Leaders' Conference, sufficiently conscious of the importance and urgency of leadership to know that its method must be /earned. and I know of Catholic boys taking a full share in the national training schemes for senior boys which are making a real contribution to the preparation of leaders for the saner years to come. Everyone with personal practical experience of work amongst real boys and girls will agree that progress depends upon leadership more than on any other single factor. and I believe that the solution can be found amongst the men and women in the Forces, if only the work can he maintained till their return.
The real job is intimate and arduous and " backstage " and it calls for perseverance. humour, sincerity and humility. Could we perhaps have occasional positive and constructive advice from people really qualified to give it, even at the expense of rally-and-charter reports. I could suggest a dozen topics to start with, connected with the real problems of youth work, which might merit th attention of your readers. and on which solid sensible guidance would be welcomed by those doing the lob.
Tom W. 01...ouatttitr, 66, Hunters Road, Handsworth, Birmingham, 19.