The real YCW (Young Christian Workers) can be recognised by three inseparable objectives or three touchstones, which allow it to be distinguished from any fake or caricature.
1. The YCW aims to transform the mass of working youth.
2. The YCW aims to re-Christianise the real life of working-class youth.
3. The YCW aims to reclaim the milieu or environment in which the mass of young workers work and live.
What does the Australian milieu look like today?
How do we engage it? Is it in need of transformation?
If it is, how would we do it?
Australia and Australian Christians are ageing.
Australia is undergoing a significant generational shift.
1 in 6 Australians are aged 65 and over (16%)
Around half (53%) of Australians over 65 are women
Australia continues to be culturally and linguistically diverse
NOTE: The image includes a map of the world with the top five countries of birth with the growth of >20,000 persons and growth of >16 per cent between 2016 and 2021. Nepal 124 per cent, India 48 per cent, Pakistan 45 per cent, Iraq 38 per cent, Philippines 26 per cent.
Applying the three touchstones of the YCW, what should I (or together with my friends) do today to engage and, if needed, transform the milieu?
What must my friends and I do to engage older Australians, both Christians and non-Christians?
Two days ago, I asked who ensures that Catholicism (or Christianity) remains a religion that attracts people.
I do not have an answer, but I believe that, ultimately, it is the will of God that determines the number of Catholics (or Christians).
What is important is that we contribute to God’s plan by being faithful to our calling. The number of Catholics (or Christians) is immaterial. As Rev. Louis J. Putz, C.S.C noted,
God is using us; God needs us to accomplish the work; this is a great joy. Without our help, God cannot bring about the miracle that God intends to affect in each of us; through us but not without us.
Also, like the woman at the well, in today’s Gospel (John 4:5-42), we seek the spring of water welling up to eternal life. And just like Jesus had a conversation with the Samaritan woman, we have a role in having conversations, i.e. sharing the good news.
As the reflections in this blog do, it is essential to note that the emphasis is not on proselytising but rather on loving and honouring God and loving and honouring our neighbour.
We cooperate with God, to enable him to achieve his plan.
What opportunities do I have to love and honour God and my neighbour?
Today’s Gospel, saw Jesus bring many to the faith, through His conversation with the Samaritan woman.
Do people we interact with, think highly of Catholicism (Christianity), because of our behaviour?
What can I do today, to help people understand that Catholicism is a religion of love and justice?
If Christianity was a football club (say the Australian Christian Football Club – ACFC), and membership was the most critical indicator of the club’s viability, how would the ACFC fare?
Who is responsible for ensuring that the club continues to attract members?
Waves of migration have shaped Australia’s religious profile. Over the years, the growth of Christianity in Australia was a function of migration. One can conclude that domestic evangelisation in Australia was never a strong suit. The ability of the ACFC to retain existing members, and attract new ones domestically, has never been strong.
As the number of Christians declined in the newer waves of migration, the inability to retain existing Christians, and attract new ones in Australia, has resulted in millennials having the highest proportion of No religion (46.5%) and Other religions (14.9 %).
The number of people affiliated with Christianity in Australia decreased from 12.2 million (52.1%) in 2016 to 11.1 million (43.9%) in 2021. This decrease occurred across most ages, with the most significant reduction for young adults (18 -25 years).
We ask ourselves, as Catholics in Australia, how is it that:
A club with over 3,000 organisations employing more than 220 000 people (in 2016) throughout Australia?
A club with over 1,759 Catholic schools reaching 793,897 young people throughout Australia?
A club with over 11,400 branches (local parishes) throughout Australia?
Yesterday’s reflection asked Catholics in Australia if “we practised what we preached (or believed in).”
Today’s reflection asks if we (Catholics in Australia) “live to be served, or do we serve?”
Jesus does not mince his words when he says.
‘You know that among the pagans, the rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you. No; anyone who wants to be great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be your slave, just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.’
Matt 20: 17 – 28
We read that the Australian Catholic University (ACU) cut 110 jobs, despite recording an operating surplus over the past six years of more than $224 million.
We also read that the Vice Chancellor of ACU earns approximately $1 million annually (data for 2019-2021).
Today’s Gospel (Matt. 23:1 – 12) is harsh. Jesus spares little as he criticises the scribes and the Pharisees.
Today’s Gospel is an excellent way to reflect on ourselves as Australia’s Christians – are we modern-day scribes and Pharisees, Jesus, something in between, or something else altogether?
We read that there are 1,755 Catholic schools in Australia, educating more than 785,000 students in Australia. In other words, one in five Australian students go to a Catholic school.
We read that, in 2016, Australia’s more than 3,000 organisations employed around 220,000 people. In other words, one in fifty-five employed persons in Australia worked for an Australian Catholic organisation.
We also read that, statistically, for the first time since Census was taken, most Australians no longer profess to be Christians. Christians are now 44% of the Australian population.
Is something lacking in Australian Catholics and Catholicism – despite Australian Catholic organisations’ significant influence in society through education and employment – contributing to this decline?
Perhaps, we, Australian Catholics, are missing something?
Perhaps, we, Australian Catholics, have forgotten or misunderstood what being a Catholic means.
Perhaps, we Australian Catholics “…do not practice what we preach.”
Yesterday, Richard Pütz’s reflection was on Reverend Louis J. Putz, C.S.C.
Rev. Louis J. Putz, C.S.C., had some profound things to say.
“YOU, the people, are the Church, not the hierarchy.”
“God is using us. God needs us to accomplish the work; this is a great joy. Without our help, God cannot bring about the miracle that God intends to affect in each of us; through us but not without us.”
Do I believe the statements above?
“The apostolate must not be thought of as “religion”; but a life of charity in all phases of daily behaviour is the objective to be achieved.”
Can I start today by using the See-Judge-Act methodology to achieve a life of charity in all phases of my daily behaviour?
Yesterday’s reflection asked if Australian Catholic organisations were practising Catholic Social Teachings (CST), particularly those relating to the dignity of work and the worker’s dignity, particularly concerning women in the care sector.
“Finally, it is to be hoped that the release of this report will provide an opportunity for all Catholic Church employees in Australia to review their own employment practices with a view to ensuring that not only are they in accord with best practice in relation to Australia’s workplace laws, but that they also reflect the Church’s social teaching on work, namely, that the workplace should be a place where people have ‘a chance to develop their qualities and personalities in the exercise of their professions’ and where they receive ‘equitable remuneration which will enable them and their families to lead a worth life on the material, social, cultural and spiritual level.”
Dixon et al. 2017.
This calls for a serious inquiry into if and how Australian Catholic organisations reflect CST in their workplaces.
We can start this serious inquiry by identifying if Australian Catholic organisations are employers of choice, as determined by the various awards in Australia.
The Best Places to Work, by the Australian Financial Review, is one of them. In 2022, under the Government, Education, and Not For Profit category, no Catholic organisation made it to the top 10. However, Baptcare came in at #8, and BaptistCare NSW & ACT came in at #10.
In 2021, in the same category, no Catholic organisation made it to the top 10, but Korowa Anglican Girls School came in at #4.
Another award is the Employer of Choice Award by the Australian Business Awards. The citation for the award is similar to CST.
The Australian Business Award for Employer of Choice [EOC®] recognises organisations that develop leading workplaces that maximise the full potential of their workforce through established policies and practices that demonstrate effective employee recruitment, engagement and retention.
ABA Employer of Choice Award.
This award which started in 2014, has seen several Catholic organisations recognised as Employers of Choice. Mercy Care was recognised in 2015, Caroline Chisolm Catholic College received it in 2018, and the Australian Catholic Superannuation has received this award since 2019.
It is a relief that of the more than 3,000 Australian Catholic organisations, several are recognised as Employers of Choice.
Why are not all Australian Catholic organisations recognised as Employers of Choice?
Why do 220,000 or more people work in Catholic organisations?
How can we judge these organisations?
What can I do today to learn more about Australia’s Catholic organisations?
“The Catholic Church has much to say about work and the rights and duties of workers. Catholic Social Teachings on work begin with the dignity of the human person and an understanding that work is for the common good.”
[Dixon et al., 2017]
Do Australian Catholic organisations bring this to reality – to the employees of their organisations?
The report noted that the Australian Catholic Church’s more than 3,000 organisations employ around 220,000 people, with more than 77% being women. The Australian Catholic Council for Employment Relations (ACCER) commissioned the project. It was carried out in 2015 and 2016 by the Pastoral Research Office of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC).
According to the report, those employed by the Church (220,000 people) were 1.8% of Australia’s 12 million employed people.
Catholic education, health, and aged care sectors are the largest employers, accounting for 84% of all Church employees. The remainder work for dioceses or parishes, Catholic social services organisations, or other Catholic organisations, including religious orders.
The report notes that the pay and conditions of almost three-quarters (74.1%) of Church employees are determined by enterprise agreements. Another 14.9 % have their pay and conditions covered by an award, and the remainder (11%) are paid under individual arrangements.
We also read that, in November 2022, the full bench of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) announced a 15% pay rise for those in the care sector, with the possibility of more to come. The FWC accepted expert evidence that “feminised industries”, including care work “, have been historically undervalued. The reason for that undervaluation is likely to be gender-based.”
Has the Australian Catholic Church and its 3,000 organisations led the way in demonstrating the dignity of work and the dignity of the worker, in particular, addressing the three issues noted above: (i) aged-care workers being underpaid, (ii) the undervaluing of women’s work, and (iii) enterprise bargaining benefiting men?
Are the 3,000 Australian Catholic organisations examples of how all Australian organisations should treat their employees, in particular, concerning the three issues identified above?
We have evidence that women are underpaid in Australia.
We have evidence that care work is undervalued in Australia.
Reflect on today’s First Reading (Jonah 3:1-10) and the Gospel passage (Luke 11: 29 -32).
Can we be like the people of Nineveh, repent and do penance by addressing the injustice women face, particularly those in the care sector in Australia?
What can I do today to evaluate objectively if Australian Catholic organisations are indeed vessels of Catholic Social Teachings concerning the dignity of the worker and the dignity of work, particularly the three issues identified above?
There are also Carers. Carers are people who provide unpaid care and support to family members and friends who have a disability, mental illness, chronic condition, terminal illness, and alcohol or other drug issues or who are frail aged.
There is an increasing number of people in Australia who need care. They could be family members, kin or strangers. They all need our care.
Volunteers and carers are people who give selflessly. Carers give to family, kin and friends, and volunteers give to strangers.
Both are equally important.
Today’s First Reading lists activities we can volunteer and care for:
The SEE–JUDGE–ACT reflection and decision-making process is ideal for Lenten reflection.
It is ideal for daily living as it integrates Christian values—Moral Virtues, Theological Virtues, Gifts of the Holy Spirit, and Fruits of the Holy Spirit with the Gospel and Catholic Social Teachings as the basis of our daily actions. It enables integral or holistic development of the person. It connects the interior and the exterior. It can be done individually or in a group.
This Lent, in particular, Pope Francis reminds us that our journey of change, while challenging, is not alone. We do it and achieve it collectively—with our brothers, sisters, and God.
In his message for Lent this year, the Holy Father chooses the Gospel of the Transfiguration, inviting us to an experience of Lenten penance in which we are called to “ascend ‘a high mountain’ in the company of Jesus”. Like the disciples who were led by the Master to Mount Tabor, we will not be alone on this uphill journey, but in the company of our brothers and sisters. This is the reason why, Pope Francis reminds us, our Lenten path is a synodal journey. At the end of a pathway that “requires effort, sacrifice and concentration”, we will arrive to the summit, where “the panorama that opens up at the end amazes us and rewards us by its grandeur”.
The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development wishes to relaunch, week after week, the contents of this message, in order to offer the Churches around the world an aid to live their Transfiguration in a practical way. Following the allegorical inspiration of the Lenten ascesis as a mountain trek, given by the Holy Father, it is proposed to make a path of Lenten reflection that might, step by step, accompany us to the summit of the mountain and “help us to understand better God’s will and our mission in the service of his kingdom.”
In the first part, I noted that while the See – Judge – Act is a systematic approach to decision-making, absent the correct virtues and principles, the outcomes can be devastating.
Stefan Gigacz’s two reflections (HERE and HERE) on Leon Olle-Laprune’s explanation on see-judge-act can be done “properly” and “correctly”.
Yet, 125 years after Olle-Laprune’s death, are Catholics better at making decisions?
Or, if we take a longer view, could the Theological Virtues, the Moral (Cardinal) Virtues, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, be the basis to help individuals develop the correct virtues and principles?
Perhaps the See-Judge-Act method for decision-making can also be used to transform the individual by asking them to reflect on their virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit and integrate them into their daily lives?
Perhaps the Theological Virtues, the Moral Virtues, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and the Fruits of the Holy Spirit can help us seek the truth with our whole soul.
Do I know what the Theological Virtues, the Moral Virtues, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and the Fruits of the Holy Spirit are?
Do I attempt to practice these virtues and use these gifts?
Can the daily gospel readings or the writings of Cardijn and others be the basis of attempting to integrate these virtues and gifts into my daily life?
The Theological Virtues: Faith, Hope and Charity.
The Moral (Cardinal) Virtues: Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance.
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Fortitude, Counsel, Piety, and Fear of the Lord.
The Fruits of the Holy Spirit: Charity, Generosity, Joy, Gentleness, Peace, Faithfulness, Patience, Modesty, Kindness, Self-Control, Goodness, and Chastity.
Image Source: Drawing created by DALL.E 2, The Holy Spirit with Plato, Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas.