A few words of introduction

A Few Words of Introduction

I sincerely hope that what I am about to say will not make you drop this book and look at something else — but the truth is that it is really the report of the conference or seminar held at Manly Seminary in January, 1987. However, I do believe that the happenings of that conference, and more especially the talks presented, have been compiled in a way that presents, in a logical and interesting way, the thought-out ideas and experiences of a christian movement of young workers in Australia.

'The first and possibly most important characteristic of this meeting," said Bernie McEvoy, YCW National President, in her opening address, "is the emphasis on and centrality given to work in human life and in the Christian vocation and mission in the world."

"The YCW believes very much in the sacredness of work. We see that, through work, we are co-workers with God in creating, loving and redeeming our world. Thus we define work as the ways in which we do this. It is our belief about work and our awareness that our world so often does not place this value on work that motivated us to call this meeting."

It is a fact that young workers and unemployed are the biggest grouping of young people in Australia — there are almost two million of them. In large measure they are newly independent of the influences of home and school and church. They have newly lost their customary groupings of friends and school classes. They are dispersed all around the country, and immersed in the world of work, or the problems of unemployment. And this takes place at a time of life when the battle for the values by which they will live is raging — and at a time when they are for the most part, preparing for a life-commitment within marriage.

"For the YCW", Bernie continued, "the questions confronting young workers — when asked and reflected upon by young workers are the starting point for discovering a deeper meaning — for discovering our vocation and mission in our world as young working people. So the YCW is a workers" movement not because of our historical tradition, but because of our faith vision of work and our understanding of our world."

The Seminar brought together a group of 150 bishops, priests, religious and adult lay people. It lasted for one week and was an opportunity for the YCW to work in collaboration with others in sharing experiences, and questioning more deeply the mission of lay people in the Church and in the world. Much of what was said could not be included, but I do hope that the faith, the witness, and the spirit of the deep incarnational spirituality which permeates the YCW and was evident in that week will not be lost in the reporting.

This faith, vision and way of living is not something new in the Australian Church. It is, however, something that has had little emphasis in more recent years. Hopefully, this conference may be what Ed Campion predicted, "one of the earliest sentences in a new chapter of the work of the Lay Apostolate in the Church in Australia".

The YCW has a very simple method of tackling practically anything they do. It is the method of SEE, JUDGE, and ACT. At the YCW world council in Linz in 1975, a paper was produced that explained that method in depth. It is called the "Review of Life and Worker Action" document. We in the Australian YCW have made a popular summary of that document, which we call the "Nine Famous Questions". It is these nine questions which have been the basis for the logic of this seminar.

SEE What exactly is happening?

Why is this happening?

What are the consequences?

JUDGE What do you think about this?

What do you think should be happening?

What does your faith or the Gospel say?

ACT What exactly is it that you want to change?

What action, short or long term, should you now take?

Who can you involve in this action?

Hugh O'Sullivan