Rowing against the wind without Jesus? That’s impossible!

In his reflection for 7 January, Greg Lopez asked the question, “Who is a saint?” As I read Greg’s reflection, I was reminded of something written by Fr Bob Wilkinson in New Visions of Priesting (ATF Press, 2022): “… the saints of the twenty-first century include vast numbers committed to saving the planet without a belief in God or divine destiny.” My intention is not to add to Greg’s reflection, although it might do just that, but to highlight the mission of the laity in the world, which is to give leadership in the workplace. One of the experiences I treasure from my time as a teacher in a Catholic secondary school was working with students and staff on environmental projects in the local community. The volunteers who led the projects modelled care for the environment and shared their knowledge and skills with us and treated us with respect and patience. 

According to Fr Joseph Cardijn, leaders are “people who bring about a revolution by their testimony. Every leader must be such a witness – a sincere, true witness to love, justice, charity and respect for the young worker.” In the second of his Godinne lectures on The Young Worker Faces Life, delivered in 1949, he stressed the importance of “patience and perseverance” in the task of forming leaders in faith. In saying so, Cardijn acknowledged the power of accompaniment long before Pope Francis reflected on it as an essential element of missionary activity in the world. 

We are most surely human when we actively and lovingly care for our common home (Genesis 1:27-30). How to do this well requires an acknowledgement of country that has existed from the beginning. Our home belongs to God and we, created in God’s likeness, have been given responsibility for creation as co-creators with God. 

When Mark shared the Good News with the gentile Christians in Rome, he described Jesus as a wonder-worker. The Gospel reading for today’s Mass follows on from the story of the feeding of the five thousand. We see the disciples on the lake in their boat in the early hours of the morning, growing tired from rowing against the wind. Jesus comes to them, walking on the lake and they are terrified. He urges them to have courage and climbs aboard the boat. The wind dies and the struggle is eased because of his presence (Mark 6:45-52). 

Jesus knows that evil is conquered by good because of God’s presence in the world. Faith in him ought to motivate his followers to have confidence in those who work to secure our planet from the ravages of ignorance and greed. Working alongside the saints who don’t believe in God, his followers recognise the presence of Jesus with them, who encourages his followers to share the burden with his saints and so the load is lightened for them. The good that is done by so many saints who are non-believers is testimony to the presence and power of the invisible grace in the world (Gaudium et Spes, 22).

The movement towards a better world for all is happening around us and we are called by God to contribute to it. This is essential to our vocation as human persons. There is so much to be done to restore God’s original justice and there are so many actions that can be carried out, even in the life of just one person, no matter their age or circumstance. I have decided to follow the UN Climate Change secretariat on Twitter (@UNFCCC) and visit their website to stay informed of progress in the fight against global warming and climate change and to encourage others through Twitter to do the same. To recognise the presence of God’s invisible grace in the good that is being done by so many is something to be treasured, which I will recall as I work to understand what makes good soil in which to plant crops and grow flowers.


Pat Branson


Joseph Cardijn, The Young Worker Faces Life (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

With just five loaves and two fish – and Jesus – we can ….

“The world will not be finally beautiful, nor healthy, till it finds God.” So wrote Fr Bob Wilkinson in his book New Visions of Priesting (ATF Press, 2022). One has only to consider for a moment the state of our world at present to recognise the absence of beauty and health across the globe: the impact of the Russian invasion of the Ukraine; the support the Australian government gives to overseas powers to destroy communities and kill innocent people; the impact of the pandemic globally; and the effects of global warming. While technology makes rapid advances to counter the evil present in the world, there is a lack of solidarity between nations to restore order, rebuild communities, render loving assistance to the poor and usher in lasting peace. 

In Rome, in October, 1951, Fr Joseph Cardijn gave the keynote address to the World Congress for the Lay Apostolate. He began his address with an analysis of the technological progress of society and he drew attention to the inequality of the distribution and effects of technological progress. He also spoke of the “the impassable distances between the classes of a population itself, between the small minority of the privileged, and the immense mass of the extremely poor who continue to live in subhuman conditions.” More than seventy years later, nothing seems to have changed. 

The world was created by God for all people to share equally not only in the present but also in the future. From the first moment of creation God has been present loving, blessing, forgiving and transforming those who seek and find God in their world. We can learn from Jesus how God intends us to respond to the mission he gave to all people to look after all of creation. When his disciples had returned from their mission to preach and to heal, he took them away to a quiet place (Mark 6:30-44). Their rest was disrupted by the presence of thousands of people seeking Jesus. To him they were like sheep without a shepherd, so he gave himself entirely to meeting their needs. His disciples soon learned that without him leading them, they could achieve very little. He brought order to the chaos before him and demonstrated how to look after those in need. Today, there are millions of people who follow his method and draw on his power … but without any faith in him, without belief in God. God’s commitment to creation extends beyond the Church. 

We know what has to change. Pope Francis has said that we need a Church filled with people smelling like sheep (Evangelii Gaudium, 24). Let’s extend that to the whole world smelling like sheep. What are some actions that can be taken to contribute to the efforts of the many who are working to bring about justice and peace in the world? Cardijn was particularly thorough at gathering the data he needed to understand the situations in which many young workers found themselves. I once read that to know something one must be able to tell others about it in all sorts of ways, like navigating your way around and through it blindfolded. This is a good place to start. 

Our federal government contributes to the atrocities committed in Myanmar by the military junta. I say this with some knowledge of how the Australian taxpayer supports the military regime and its criminal activity, however, I have to be completely on top of this issue so that any action I take and that I encourage others to take will be loving and just and be focused on empowering the people of Myanmar to restore order and peace in their country. And the action I take must be carried out like Jesus, who took the five loaves and two fish and offered them to God in thanksgiving before giving them to his disciples to distribute to the gathering.

What is there in our world that you would like to change? And what action will you take to bring about change to help people find God and help to restore beauty and health to God’s creation?


Pat Branson


Joseph Cardijn, The world today and the lay apostolate (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)


Mosaic in the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves und the Fishes at Tabgha near the Sea of Galilee (Yam Kinneret), Israel. According to the pious legend, in this place Jesus fed 5000 pilgrims with five loaves of bread and two fish (Matthew 14,13).

Photo taken by Grauesel / Wikipedia

Our place in God’s plan

In yesterday’s reflection on the Feast of Epiphany, Stefan Gigacz noted that the people of God, religious and lay people, shared in the triple ministry of Jesus – priest, prophet and king.    

Today the Church celebrates the Baptism of the Lord. 

The baptism is administered to Jesus by John the Baptist. Imagine an ordinary person baptising Jesus – the beloved Son of God. Ordinary people – like you and me – certainly have a place in God’s plan. 

The baptism is also the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry – the mission in the world to do His Father’s will – to spread the good news and manifest God’s love to all. This is our – yours and mine – mission when we are baptised. In other words, we are baptised to share in the triple ministry of Jesus – priest, prophet and king. 


Do we believe that we have a place in God’s plan? 

Do we sincerely and genuinely believe that we are baptised to share in this triple ministry of Jesus? 

As noted in yesterday’s reflection, can we Serve, Educate and Represent?


If we believe in the above, how might our public ministry look like – how might we act in our ordinary lives? 


Like yesterday’s Act – can we decide on just one activity each week where we will do our best to: 

  • Serve (volunteer our time for a good cause or help a member of the family or friend in need), 
  • Educate (spread the good news – spiritual and temporal – in our family, at work, among our friends, etc.), 
  • Represent (take part, or lead a collective action for an individual or a group in need — perhaps a colleague who is bullied at work needs help ((see comment by Stefan Gigacz about how school leavers are being mistreated)), perhaps there is a local community issue that requires a collective effort, etc.) 


Greg Lopez


Dave Zelenka / Wikipedia

Lay people as priests, prophets and kings

Today is the Feast of the Epiphany, the feast of the arrival of the three kings, the three wise men of tradition, who became known to history as Gaspar (or Caspar), Melchior, and Balthasar.

They are also known for having brought Mary, Joseph and Jesus the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Moreover, as Philip Kosloski has written, these gifts had a very important symbolic meaning:

The gold represents Christ’s kingship; frankincense, a sweet-smelling resin used in worship, his priesthood; and myrrh, an ointment used in burial, foreshadows his death.

The three gifts can thus be seen as symbolising Jesus’ three roles (tria munera) as king, priest and prophet, an idea that became very important for Cardijn and the YCW.

In his pioneering 1953 book, Jalons pour une théologie du laïcat (Lay People In the Church: A Study for a Theology of the Laity), French Dominican theologian, Yves Congar, who had preached retreats for YCW leaders during the 1930s and worked closely with many YCW chaplains and leaders, developed this idea, emphasising that lay people as well as priests shared in this triple ministry of Jesus.

And in 1961, in preparing for the Second Vatican Council, Belgian Bishop Emile-Joseph De Smedt, another prominent promoter of the YCW and a close collaborator of Cardijn, made the same point in a pastoral letter later published in English as The Priesthood of the Faithful.

Bishop De Smedt, whose sister Livine was a fulltimer for the Flemish VKAJ (Girls YCW) explained it as follows:

The priestly work of the faithful consists of:

Life in union with Christ offering sacrifice in the midst of his people;

Life in union with Christ teaching in the midst of his people;

Life in union with Christ ruling in the midst of his people.

The apostolic work of pastors stands:

In the service of Christ offering sacrifice in the midst of his people;

In the service of Christ teaching in the midst of his people;

In the service of Christ ruling in the midst of his people.

Congar, De Smedt and other theologians worked hard and successfully to introduce this concept into the Vatican II documents. As a result, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium stated that the whole Church, including all lay people share in this kingship, priesthood;

31. The term laity is here understood to mean all the faithful except those in holy orders and those in the state of religious life specially approved by the Church. These faithful are by baptism made one body with Christ and are constituted among the People of God; they are in their own way made sharers in the priestly, prophetical, and kingly functions of Christ; and they carry out for their own part the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the world.

And §2 the Decree on the Lay Apostolate, Apostolicam Actuositatem, makes this even more clear:

The laity likewise share in the priestly, prophetic, and royal office of Christ and therefore have their own share in the mission of the whole people of God in the Church and in the world.

They exercise the apostolate in fact by their activity directed to the evangelisation and sanctification of men and to the penetrating and perfecting of the temporal order through the spirit of the Gospel. In this way, their temporal activity openly bears witness to Christ and promotes the salvation of men. Since the laity, in accordance with their state of life, live in the midst of the world and its concerns, they are called by God to exercise their apostolate in the world like leaven, with the ardour of the spirit of Christ.

Serve, educate and represent

But, practically, however, how can lay people act as prophets, kings and priests in their ordinary, daily lives?

Cardijn himself provided the answer to this. The YCW, he wrote, “is at once and inseparably a school, a service, a representative body.”

It is thus:

A school of lay apostolate in their life, their environment, within the mass of their comrades.

A service of lay apostolate in their life, their environment, within the mass of their comrades.

A representative body of lay apostolate in their life, their environment, within the mass of their comrades. A practical school, a school of training, in which they learn to see, to judge, and to achieve the apostolic value of their whole life, in all its aspects, its details, the most humble and daily ones, at home, in their district, in their street, in the factory, in the office, on the way to work, in meal-times and breaks, in their leisure, always and everywhere, in their courtship, their engagement, their marriage; not a theoretical school, or a purely doctrinal school, but a school in which they exercise themselves, and work out and perfect their own training; an essentially active and acting school, with its enquiries and activities imparting a social sense, a social spirit, a social conduct, in a much more gripping way than any lessons and lectures which leave the listeners passive and inactive; a school which reveals to them the beauty and the grandeur of their humble life as young workers, which exalts them and creates in them and in the whole of their life that indispensable unity which gives them with strength of conviction and character, pride in their Christian, apostolic and radiating life; a school which transforms their life of young workers into a lay priesthood and a lay apostolate, whose fruitfulness astonishes and delights those who witness it.

In other words, for Cardijn, lay people participate in Christ’s triple ministry by

a) educating others (a prophetic role),

b) serving their peers (kingship or leadership as service) and

c) representing them (acting as priestly intermediaries).

And the YCW teaches young workers how to achieve this through the see-judge-act.

Let’s try it ourselves.


How do I serve my peers in my daily life?

How do I help educate them?

How do I advocate on their behalf or represent them?


Do you see any ways of doing this better?


Decide on a concrete action this week in which you will endeavour to educate, serve and advocate for your friends, peers and colleagues.


Stefan Gigacz


The Epiphany of the Lord, Readings (USCCB)

Philip Kosloski, Why did the Magi bring gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh? (Aleteia)

Lumen Gentium (Vatican)

Apostolicam Actuositatem (Vatican)

Peter De Mey, “Sharing in the threefold office of Christ, a different matter for laity and priests? The tria munera in Lumen Gentium, Presbyterorum Ordinis, Apostolicam Actuositatem and Ad Gentes,” in The Letter and the Spirit: On the Forgotten Documents of Vatican II, ed. Annemarie Mayer, Peeters, 2018, 155-179. (Academia)

Who is a saint?

Today, the Church celebrates St. Raymond of Penafort. It is written that Pope Gregory IX commanded him to organise, codify and edit the Church’s law (canon law). He was also elected General of the Dominicans and improved their regulations for better governance.

Undoubtedly, St. Raymond of Penafort was a good person and did important things. And many ordinary good people do important things.

Consider Marcel Callo, a leader of the French Young Christian Worker (JOC) movement, who was arrested for his role in organising workers, sent to Germany under the forced labour regime during World War II, and died in Mauthausen Concentration Camp – surely a saint.


How do we evaluate who a saint is?

Do you know someone who you would call a saint?

Can we be a saint?

Is an apostle/missionary a saint?


When declaring a saint, the Church looks at the following:

The life of a person. It looks at what the person did, how she reacted to the events of life, what people wrote and said about her, and what she wrote or said herself. For a martyr, the Church looks at the death of a person and considers the reason for the death and the circumstances surrounding the death.

The question of continuing devotion. When the person died, did the people keep the memory alive? Is the person still alive in the faith of the people? Is her life continuing in the people?

Pat Branson, in his “Being an apostle reflection”, said that Pope Francis prayed that the Lord would make us missionaries and apostles. Pat’s reflection also noted that Cardijn was the workers’ apostle and that the Church needed working-class apostles and missionaries.

While the Church may have a precise definition of a saint, would not being an apostle or a missionary, also qualify one as a saint?


Can we be an apostle today as part of our daily life?

Can we be a missionary today as part of our daily life?

Can we identify people who we know — past and present —- who are saints and honour them?


Greg Lopez


Marcel Callo (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Saving the Planet


Our home is in trouble. Extreme weather events wreak havoc in communities around the globe. Habitats are destroyed and many species face extinction. Even human civilisation is threatened. The rapid advances made in technology in the modern era are accompanied by human ignorance and greed. Early in his papacy, Pope Francis warned the world about failing to take care of our planet. He called for the ecological conversion of communities around the world so that all people work together to care for our common home. 

Nearly sixty years before he published Laudato Si’ in 2015, Fr Joseph Cardijn addressed the World Congress for the Lay Apostolate, which had gathered in Rome, in October 1951. He spoke about the advances in technology as transformations of society and he said that ‘it is for lay people to surmount the dangers which they bring.’ We currently experience on so many fronts the dangers to which he referred and they are more than he was aware of when he delivered his keynote address. 

Like so many other lay people in our common home, I learn about our planet in a piecemeal fashion. Most of my knowledge is reactionary, and I often feel out of control of the learning process as I bounce from one concept or occurrence to another. To seek ecological conversion, I must become intentional in learning about this home we share and how to work with others for the good of our common home.


I am a Catholic and an active member of my parish. And while I have started making an effort to be responsible for the country where I live, I am troubled by my lack of effort to engage with those I worship with every Sunday on the call to collective action to save our planet. The Gospel reading for the Mass for January 6 (Mark 1:6-11) is about Jesus being affirmed and confirmed in his mission on the occasion of his baptism by John in the Jordan River. When a person is baptised with the Holy Spirit (the sacrament of Baptism), they are commissioned to work for the good of all. They receive the grace they need to respond to the promptings of the Spirit.

Pope Francis describes people as “protectors of God’s handiwork.” In an ideal world, the lay people of a parish would see as part of their mission to work together to address the issue of climate change and its impact on the community and on the world. Their actions would signal their ecological conversion. The parish priest would encourage them and lead them in prayer and worship, as well as participating in practical ways, such as learning with his parishioners how to live responsibly with climate change.


For the ideal to become the reality, the parish I belong to will have to start talking about the impact of climate change on our lives and on the world and how to respond to the call for the ecological conversion of our parish community. Up to this point in time, no one has raised the issue so that it is communicated when people gather for Mass. The silence on this issue is disturbing.

So I will commit myself to bringing about this change. I will approach our parish pastoral council and ask for the opportunity to address them about Pope Francis’ call to us to be “protectors of God’s handiwork.” Fortunately, the Church leads the way in creating experiences for ecological conversion through the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, which was established by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. We are not alone.

About Pat Branson

I am an Aussie Catholic, married and living in Western Australia in the presence of God. I have been involved in Catholic education for most of my life, teaching and leading in the field of religious education. I quit the classroom at the end of 2020 and am now engaged in research and writing, something that I started in my postgraduate studies. For almost two-thirds of my life, I have been influenced by Cardinal Joseph Cardijn through the movements he founded, particularly the YCS. I hope this reflection bears testimony to the good work done forming me by Jocists young and old.


Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ (

Daily Mass Readings, 6 January 2023 (USCCB)

Educating school leavers

Today is the feast day of St John Neumann (1811-1860), the Czech-born American Redemptorist who devoted much of his life to establishing parish schools. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, he was devoted to education and was “the first ecclesiastic to organise a diocesan school system in the United States.” Neumann was eventually canonised in 1977 as the first U.S. male saint.

Whereas Neumann was concerned with developing schools, Cardijn consecrated his life to the education of young workers who had left the school system.

Indeed, a pivotal moment in young Cardijn’s life came when he returned home after his first year in the minor seminary to discover that his former schoolmates now viewed him as an enemy and class traitor.

As he later wrote:

I was then thirteen and it was at that age that I made my first discovery of the problem of working youth. When I returned on holidays from the minor seminary, my little comrades from school and First Communion, who were more intelligent and more pious than me, were obliged to go to the factories and to work. I found them corrupted, opposed to the Church, no longer wanting anything to do with me.

It was a knife blow in my heart. I searched for the causes of this loss and corruption and promised to devote myself to saving them. I began my first enquiries in the factories and the neighbouring communes and I never ever abandoned them in Belgium and overseas for the rest of my life.

Yet, if Cardijn were alive today, what would he think today of the situation of young workers, particularly school leavers?


How many young people from your parish or local community have just completed their school education and started work or looking for work?

What challenges do they face in their new lives?

Is the Church accompanying these school leavers and young workers in facing these challenges?


What are those young workers’ experiences of the Church?

Is it similar to or different from the experience of school leavers in Cardijn’s time?

What outreach does your parish provide for those young workers?

Is there a YCW group in your area?

Or is there any other youth ministry program specifically trying to reach and assist young workers?


How could we assist those young workers starting their adult working lives?

Could we organise a school leavers event in our school? Or in our parish?


Stefan Gigacz worked for the Australian YCW in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney and later for the International YCW in Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America. He is currently secretary of the Australian Cardijn Institute.


St John Ne (Encyclopaedia Britannica)

Joseph Cardijn, Background (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)


Antonio Gusmao, USAID (Pixnio)

Being an apostle … 

By Pat Branson 


In 2013, when Pope Francis celebrated Mass on the Feast of the Ascension of Jesus he concluded his homily with an exhortation to “ask the Lord today to make us missionaries in the Church, apostles in the Church, but with this spirit: a great magnanimity and also a great humility.” Apostles are those who are sent on a mission: that is the meaning of the word “apostle.” What do apostles do that all Christians can do? Cardinal Joseph Cardijn was once described as “the workers’ apostle.” He lived his commitment to young workers through accompanying them in their lives and in their work. 

In the third of a series of lectures, which he titled The Young Worker Faces Life, Cardijn said, “… the Church needs working-class apostles and missionaries. The apostles of the workers will be workers.” Elsewhere in his lectures, he outlines what distinguishes the worker as an apostle from other workers. For example, “He is a ray of sunshine in his district. He is on the lookout to help people; he is amiable and civil; he is different from other young workers. The same on the bus or the train; among his mates; with the youngsters; with the girls.” If I am interpreting him correctly, Cardijn presents an understanding of what it means to be an apostle that is presented also by Pope Francis. Both apostles demonstrate the art of accompaniment. 


In the Gospel reading for the Mass of the day, we hear about the invitation Jesus extended to the followers of John the Baptist, who came to learn from him. The Gospel reading is an invitation to us to spend time with Jesus. We know from the Gospel and from the living Tradition of the Church that those who spend time with Jesus are then sent by him into the world to encourage others to also follow Jesus. 

Andrew was one of the men who spent time with Jesus. He left Jesus’ home and went straight to his brother Simon to tell him that he had met the Messiah. He invited Peter to meet Jesus, which he did … and the rest is history. We learn from the Gospel that the apostles spent time with Jesus to learn from him how to live in the way that God intends. Each of them heard, “Follow me,” the invitation that they, as workers, never expected to hear. Only the brightest among the young men heard the invitation from the rabbi. The invitation conveyed Jesus’ respect for them. He valued their presence in his life. He loved them. 


Apostles have to love those they are sent to invite into a relationship with Jesus. That love shows in their generosity of spirit and their humility. Cardijn’s reference to being the “ray of sunshine,” the polite and civil and helpful person with friends in the workplace, in the home and out in the community. All this is summed up in that word “accompaniment.” 

Being an apostle starts with one’s relationship with Jesus. It’s the communication we have with him in prayer that will provide insight into how to act as an apostle. One simple action that can turn us in the direction taken by all apostles is to find a time each day to spend with Jesus and to acknowledge that he says to us “Follow me.” Ask him for the gifts of generosity and humility because being an apostle is never about us. 

Read the Young Worker Faces Life

About Pat Branson

I am an Aussie Catholic, married and living in Western Australia in the presence of God. I have been involved in Catholic education for most of my life, teaching and leading in the field of religious education. I quit the classroom at the end of 2020 and am now engaged in research and writing, something that I started in my postgraduate studies. For almost two-thirds of my life, I have been influenced by Cardinal Joseph Cardijn through the movements he founded, particularly the YCS. I hope this reflection bears testimony to the good work done forming me by Jocists young and old. 

The Most Holy Name of Jesus and the human person


  1. What do we mean by dignity?
  2. Do we know how dignity is attained, preserved, defended, promoted, and universalised? 
  3. Do we experience dignity in our families, in our communities, in our workplaces, in our civic/public spaces, or in cyberspace (online)?
  4. Does the promotion of dignity for some diminish it for others? 


  1. Today the Church celebrates The Most Holy Name of Jesus. Jesus’s birth, life and death are the antitheses of dignity.  He was born to a people – the Jews – that were under occupation and oppressed (by the Romans). He was born out of wedlock (Mary was engaged but not married to Joseph, when Jesus was conceived). He was the son of Joseph, the carpenter. His passion and death – from the scourging to the crucifixion on the cross – was beyond undignified. It was dehumanising. Yet, His Name is Most Holy. 
  1. This is also an important lesson that Cardijn asked us to remember – that we protect our dignity, and the dignity of others. 

“…The boys, the mass of boys and men, as well as girls and women, must learn, through missioners and apostles, to reflect on their dignity and their value. Girls and women, above all, demand that this dignity be respected far more than men, particularly by men.”

Adapted from “Person, family and education – Lecture 1 – The human person.”

  1. This year (2023), the world will commemorate the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) emphatically states that human rights are rights we have simply because we exist as human beings. They are not granted by any state!  These rights are universal and inherent to everyone, irrespective of nationality, ethnic origin, gender, colour, religion, language, or any other marker. The UDHR includes the rights that make life worth living, such as the rights to food, education, work, health and liberty. 


How do I protect my dignity, and how do I promote the dignity of others? 

New Year 2023 is a time for resolutions.

  1. I resolve to be more respectful of my loved ones, e.g. no snide remarks. 
  2. I resolve to be more respectful of my colleagues at my workplace, e.g. genuinely listen to those I may not like and consider their inputs honestly. 
  3. I resolve to be more respectful in my online interactions, e.g. understanding that because the person is not before me, there is a significant loss in communication (70% – 93% of communication is non-verbal).
  4. I should not be quick to judge. 
  5. Find ways to promote the knowledge of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Greg Lopez

About me!

I am a lecturer in management at a university in Perth, Western Australia. I learned about Cardijn first through the Young Christian Students (YCS) at school and then more deeply through my interactions with Stefan Gigacz. There is so much that Cardijn has to offer, hence my interest in seeing how Cardijn’s teachings can be helpful to me and anyone interested in making the world a better place (one step at a time).


Joseph Cardijn, Person, family and education – Lecture 1 – The human person (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Missionaries of the Interior

St Therese of Lisieux would be 150 today if she was still alive. She was born on this day in 1873 in Alencon, France. But why would this be of interest to people today? Pope Pius XI proclaimed her to be the patroness of Catholic Action when Fr Joseph Cardijn took the JOC leaders on a pilgrimage to Rome in September, 1929. Pope Pius XI described all Jocists as “missionaries of the interior” and presented each pilgrim with a medallion in honour of St Therese of Lisieux, whom he had named as the patron saint of missionaries. 

St Therese had a missionary heart. She wrote in her journal, which was later published as Story of a Soul: “I would be a Missionary, not for a few years only, but, were it possible, from the beginning of the world till the consummation of time. ” She never left the Carmelite convent she entered. Her missionary work was done through walking with missionaries given to her as “brothers” by her superior. 

In 1937, Fr Joseph Cardijn preached at the Eucharistic Congress held in Lisieux. In his homily, he said “… may Saint Thérèse of Lisieux obtain that this National Congress, this Eucharistic Congress, facilitates a Eucharistic renewal among all workers in France and among all workers in the world for their own happiness and for universal peace.” The celebration of the Eucharist is essential to the life and work of all missionaries, including those whose mission is to those they meet each day in the workplace.

If we listen with a missionary heart to the Gospel for the Mass of January 2, then we will hear John the Baptist describe himself as “a voice that cries in the wilderness: Make a straight way for the Lord” (John 1:23). He was quoting the prophet Isaiah. All prophets are apostles; they are sent by God to announce his kingdom on earth. This is their mission. Indeed, it is the mission of all who seek to follow Christ. Like the apostles we meet in the Gospel, like St Therese of Lisieux and like Fr Joseph Cardijn, we, too, announce through the way we live as disciples of Jesus, “make a straight way for the Lord.” 

Missionary work is not accomplished without preparation, without prayer and reflection. John the Baptist would have spent years preparing for his few short years of proclaiming the coming of God’s kingdom. Jesus spent thirty years preparing for his mission, which lasted just three years. He handed on his mission to his disciples, who also spend years preparing for their part in the mission. The Eucharistic renewal that Fr Joseph Cardijn called for during the homily he preached in the Cathedral in Lisieux on July 10, 1937 is the heart of the mission of all workers, indeed, of all people.

The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council described the Eucharist as “the source and summit of the Christian life” (Lumen Gentium, 11). This, then, must be the change that is sought by all missionaries, including those engaged in mission in the workplace. We seem so far away from this in Australia today, where only about eight percent of Catholics celebrate the Eucharist regularly. So, how do we change this? How do we “make a straight way for the Lord” in the workplace and in our homes? 

We start with ourselves, with our relationship with Jesus and what we share with him. How does going to Mass affect our lives? How does it show in our relationships with our family, our friends and those we meet and work with in the community? Here is a simple action that can be done at the same time each day: in prayer, join Jesus on the altar as he offers himself to the Father for all people for all time.

Pat Branson


Joseph Cardijn, Sermon at the Lisieux Eucharistic Congress 1937 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)