This was the message of Archbishop Wilson in his homily for the Mass held to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of the founder of the Young Christian Workers (YCW) movement.
Archbishop Wilson said as a young priest concerned about the industrialisation of regions near his home in Belgium, Joseph Cardijn had been able to develop a system of community, of gathering together and reflecting on the Gospel and how it related to people’s daily lives.
“This has become the major principle of what we know as the YCW and YCS movement in Australia,” he said.
“As long as that link between Gospel and daily life was maintained it (the movement) had every opportunity to flourish.”
Archbishop Wilson said to some extent the impetus of the YCW and YCS (Young Christian Students) had suffered as a result of the work of the Second Vatican Council and its focus on the renewal of the life of the Church itself, “rather than giving witness to the Lord in our own lives”.
This was a challenge for the Archdiocese’s own renewal process.
“Joseph Cardijn stands in the middle of us and keeps reminding us about that important principle of life and of faith that he discovered and applied all that time ago – community, Gospel, life.
“It becomes the way in which we are able to energise ourselves to engage with the world in which we live today.
“We are told over and over again that there are fewer and fewer people engaged in the life of the Church, we are criticised by people in our society, but what they don’t understand is that this unity between Gospel and life, between Jesus and ourselves is at the very centre of our work.”
He said the response should not be to “hold up our hands in horror” or “step away and try to hide” but to be more dedicated to Jesus and to live the Cardijn message of engaging with the world and making it a better place.
“As the world becomes more and more secular, we should be more dedicated to ensuring that the values of the Gospel are placed at the centre of everything we do,” he said.
Cardijn College, which is named after the Belgian priest, was well represented at the anniversary Mass with students participating in the liturgy and choir. A group of students from Blackfriars Priory, which promotes the Cardijn principle of “see, judge, act”, also attended the Mass in St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral on July 24.