—Says England's Y. C. W leader
CATHOLIC WORKERS DISCUSS Press : Pilgrimage : Leakage : War
The London Regional Assembly of the Young Christian Workers was held on Thursday of last week at St. Mary's Schools, Cadogan Gardens.
Delegates from London Groups, including Poplar, Camden Town, naverstock Hill, Dockhead, Chelsea, told of work their groups had been doing : industrial enquiries, selling of Catholic papers, canvassing for Catholic papers (Chelsea alone has gained in this way 200 new regular readers of the Catholic press), persuading lapsed Catholics to return to their duties (in Dockhead two boys who had abandoned the Church for four years were won. back), campaigning for increased membership of the Trade Unions.
Harry Tolfree, national leader of the Y.C.W., spoke about the advance of the war spirit and of extremist politics.
Paul Maguire, who has toured Australia and America lecturing on Catholic Action, spoke about the advance of Catholicism as a force influencing the daily life of non-Catholics, countering political extremes and war fever.
In the chair at the meeting was a member of the Poplar Y.C.W. group.
About fifty young working men met in a Chelsea school hall on Thursday night last week. They had come after their work in shops and printing houses, in restaurants, factories and garages to report on the progress of the Christian revolution.
They were all Catholics, these young workers, all members of the :Young Christian Workers' Move
ment, and the meeting was the regional assembly of the London groups of the movement. Reports of the
activity of groups at Dockhead. Camden Town, Poplar, Haverstock Hill and Chelsea were given.
Harry Tolfree, national leader of the T.C.W. in England, spoke of the pilgrimage that will be made to Rome in September, and of the war that might stop that pilgrimage being made.
" Nothing But War "
"We hear nothing but war, The placards and the headlines and the talk of the people are about war. The spirit of war advances, and with it the two antipathetic political ideas of Communism and Fascism grow more violent.
" You can trace the war fever to selfishness—individual and national—to injustice and to hate. Society has discarded moral principles. But without those principles it cannot go on.
"The destruction of treaties, the oppression of peoples will go on. And war will come.
"The Young Christian Workers can bring peace.
"Can you intaoine, any one of you, going over and sticking a bayonet through, a young Christian Worker of Austria! That is what war means.
" Before the Anschluss there were 5,000 Y.C,W. members in Austria. Now they have been forced to take their part in the Nazi war machine; but it does not mean they have abandoned the ideals of the Y.C.W. movement.
" We Shall Make the Christian Revolution "
" If our pilgrimage to Rome in September, when 20,000 young workers of England, Ireland, Canada. France, Belgium, Portugal, Hungary, Yugo
slavia, go to demonstrate their loyalty to Christ brings what we hope it. will bring, peace for longer than a few months, then we shall be able to make the Christian revolution."
The hard work and self-sacrifice that the making of this revolution calls for, here in this country, were described by Tolfree.
" When the majority or Catholic boys leave the elementary school they keep their religion for perhaps six months— not always so long—and then they gradually give up. What happens to them? They don't become Communists or Fascists, for those organisations, like the Y.C.W., require discipline from their members.
" The boys just drift. Work, recreation, sleep. Day after day. And the recreation is the pin table saloon or the cinema. There is hardly ever an attempt to improve their perceptions, understanding, ability, by after-school education.
" Catholicism on the March "
" It is this indifference that the Y.C.W. must tight in England. Indifference to religion and to all things that need effort and skill. And there is not much glory felt in this fight against indifference. There is none of the sense of triumph which has come to the Y.C.W. members who fought in Spain, or to the Y.C.W, members who struggled so long against militant atheism in Belgium."
But Paul Maguire, who had come to the meeting " to learn rather than to talk," but did nevertheless talk upon persuasion from the young chairman, was optimistic about the overcoming of the indifference.
"Catholic Action is on the march, all over the world "; and he described all the signs of an uprising of Catholicism, leading the people in struggle against materialism and injustice • . .
" Not a Holiday "
General secretary of the Y.C,W., Pat Keegan, described the spirit in which the Rome pilgrimage would be made.
"It will be no holiday, but a real pilgrimage. For a year Y.C.W. members have been saving up towards its cost, and not only in shillings and pence. but In prayers.
" Since the beginning of January one boy has cycled every morning four miles to his church for Holy Communion at 8.15 Then he has cycled home again, and afterwards gone seven
miles to his work. He is a quarryworker. He has not so far missed his Communion once.
" Another boy has put aside each week two shillings out of the four shillings allowed out of his wages for pocket money. The two shillings goes to help a friend, even less rich, who Is going on the pilgrimage."
The meeting ended with the Y.C.W. song and much talking in groups.