I am grateful to the YCW for the insights it has given me and the courageous example of people systematically applying faith to their real life situations.
My first memory of the YCW (Young Christian Workers) was in the 1950s when the curate in our rural parish proposed to us young men who had just left school to establish a local branch. The YCW and the YCS (Students) was the alive Catholic action of the day that applied faith to life. We discussed the idea but decided that we would rather join the local Junior Farmers. That group was seen as Protestant (later proved to be wrong), but we saw it as more related to our lives as budding farmers.
My next encounter was a YCW information camp for seminarians run by Fr Frank Marriott in the 1960s. A vivid memory was hearing the story of a young worker who could not read well. Rather than give him some spiritual book, he was first given a ‘western’. We were informed that there had to be some immediate interest in reading for him. I thought this was a very practical approach.
In South Korea in the 1970’s I was assigned to be chaplain to a YCW group of girls working in a cloth factory. At each meeting they described their life as workers in the factory, reflected on it in the light of faith and then decided on an action to try. They reported back on the action at the next meeting.
This is the tried and tested YCW method: See-Judge-Act. They described the lack of heaters in the factory leading to fights among the workers. Their action in ‘turning the other cheek’ was to stand back from the heaters. They reported that they were too cold; the fights continued.
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The strong influence of YCW (Australian Columbans)