GWO Addleshaw

Born on 1 December 1906, the Anglican clergyman George William Outram Addleshaw was Dean of Chester in the third quarter of the 20th century.

In 1938, the Anglican Diocese of Winchester requested him to investigate the emerging Jeunesse Ouvrière Chrétienne in Belgium.

This is his account of that investigation.




First published 1939 Reprinted 1942

Made in Great Britain


The author of this pamphlet was asked by our Diocesan Committee for Religious Education to visit Belgium and to report on the work of the Jeunesse Ouvrière Chrétienne, commonly known as the J.O.C. In the following pages he gives an account of a most remarkable movement which has great influence on the youth of both sexes in Belgium. In our own Church we are faced with the same problem which the J.O.C. attempts to solve—how to retain m active membership those who have been confirmed. I advise all who are interested in youth work to read this pamphlet, and to see if they cannot find something in it which will help them. As Mr. Addleshaw points out, conditions in Belgium are different from those in England, and it would be unwise to attempt to adopt wholesale the methods which there have been found valuable. The recommendations made by Mr. Addleshaw himself at the close of this pamphlet will form a useful basis for discussion, though I cannot say that I find myself wholly in agreement with his suggestions. I have no doubt whatever that the J.O.C. movement calls for careful and sympathetic study. We have much to learn from it, and Mr. Addleshaw has done a real service by giving us such an admirable description of its aims and methods.




19th October, 1938.



I. Introduction

II. The Origins of the J.O.C.

III. The Principles of the J.O.C.

IV. The Organisation of the J.O.C.

V. The Social Services of the J.O.C.

VI. The Religion of the J.O.C.

VII. The J.O.C. and the Church of England

The Jocist Prayer - Bibliography


“What has the Church ever done for me and my pals?” This pathetic question was recently put by a lad at work to the vicar of a semi-industrial parish. It is no exaggeration to say that of late years the answer is not impressive. One of the many tragedies of modern England is that the mass of the population between the ages of fourteen and twenty-five, who left school at fourteen and now go to work, appear to have lost all living contact with Christianity. It seems to them utterly out of touch with the realities of life; the services of the Church mean nothing to them; they are ignorant of what Christianity stands for and what it is intended to do. Their lives are being rapidly absorbed into a civilisation which in work and leisure rules out Christianity as irrelevant and works on the assumption that man has no soul; in so doing it robs man of his chief and greatest glory and reduces him to something scarcely human, a kind of superior animal.

Much of our youth work in the Church of England lays itself open to the charge of being too sentimental and pietistic. It has failed to bridge the gap between Christianity and the grim realities of working life, and it has failed to encourage its members to use their minds. We influence only the pious few and leave untouched the mass of young people at work. Nor has the new method of dealing with children over “eleven plus,” popularly known as the Guild system, which is finding a home in the Church for the Secondary and Senior school child, been very successful with those who go to work at fourteen.

But what may be called the tragedy of the “young worker” is not confined to England; the same thing is going on all over Europe. Directly the Church's children come into contact with modern industrial civilisation they tend to drift away from the Church. For some years now the Church of Rome, especially in France and Belgium, has been tackling this problem through what is known as the Jeunesse Ouvriére Chrétienne. This movement, which is the finest piece of youth work being done at the moment by the Christian Church, was brought to the notice of Anglicans at the 1937 Summer School of Sociology, in a paper on Catholic Action,1 by the Abbé Kothen, the deputy of Canon Cardijn, the founder and Aumônier-Général of the movement in Belgium. Briefly, the Jeunesse Ouvrière Chrétienne, known as the J.O.C., aims at the re-Christianisation of modern industry through the Christian lad and girl at work.

In the spring of 1938 the present writer was sent to Brussels by the Educational Committee of the Winchester Diocese to examine the workings of the movement, and this booklet is based on the report which he presented to the Committee as a result of his visit. Nothing could have exceeded the kindness with which he was received at the headquarters of the J.O.C. in Brussels. M. Jean Doeran, the Abbe Kothen's secretary, placed himself at his disposal, and explained the principles and working of the movement, as well as answering his numerous questions. He was allowed to be present at actual meetings of the J.O.C. in various parishes in Brussels. He found that the problems and difficulties facing the Church of Rome abroad in its youth work were much the same as our own, and that they had an enormous amount to teach us. The leaders of the movement were deeply sympathetic towards the efforts of our Church at helping its young people at work and full of wise advice on how we might start a J.O.C. of our own. The Jocists in one parish which he visited promised to offer their next Mass on behalf of the lads of the Church of England who go to work.

The visit was of necessity short; but even a few days' contact with Jocism made one feel that here the Christian Church was making a determined and realist effort to conquer modern paganism, and proving a home to a type of lad who in our own country is usually neglected by institutional Christianity. The atmosphere of the movement radiated something of that spirit of heroism, joy and victory which belonged to the first ages of the Church. One realised too, as perhaps never before, the infinite value and importance in the sight of God of every Christian lad and girl at work; that they as well as all other Christians are called to the heights of sanctity; that the Church must not only care for their souls, but see that their work and their leisure is such as will lead them to the beatific vision.


Though the J.O.C. is a self-contained organisation, it forms part of a wider movement known as Catholic Action, which aims at reconquering the pagan society around us by an apostolate of the laity. It trains Christians to preserve their spiritual integrity in the pagan world where they spend their days, encourages them to advance Christian ideas and interests and to place what worldly influence they have at the disposal of the Church; more particularly it aims at the re-Christianisation of the world of labour and industry by those who belong to it.

The movement, like most significant things in modem Western Christendom, originated with Leo XIII; the main lines of the movement as it touches the world of labour were laid down in his Encyclical of May, 1891, Rerum Novarum, the Magna Carta of the Christian worker. This is the finest exposition in existence of the fundamental principles Of Christian sociology. Here we are concerned with his description of the duties of Christian employers towards their workmen. They are to treat them not as slaves or as mere instruments of production, but as brothers in Christ, paying them wages which enable them to bring up a family and save. The work they give to their employees should be suitable to their age and sex; the moral and physical conditions of their factories must not endanger their spiritual life; it is the duty of employers to see that their employees have time for their religious duties. Further, Leo XIII emphasised the fact that the helplessness of the workers made it necessary for the state to protect them against oppression, and that Trade Unions were a lawful means of association for Christians; but Trade Union leaders are reminded that it is their duty to defend and fight for the spiritual as well as the material welfare of their members.

This Encyclical brought the more progressive sections of the Church of Rome out on the aide of the workers; it encouraged the formation of Christian Trade Unions (these had already started in France between 1887 and 1890); and it familiarised the world with a Christian teaching on the subject of labour which possessed an ethos of its own, neither Capitalist nor Socialist, and with the idea of Christians in industry uniting together to fight for their just rights as men and Christians. Leo XIII, the leader of thought, was succeeded in 1903 by Pius X, the saint, who initiated the movement for frequent and daily Communion. In understanding the J.O.C., one ought to remember the sociological and devotional influences at work in the Roman Church in the first decade of this century.

These influences resulted in pre-war Belgium in the formation of Eucharistic leagues, which aimed at putting into practice the teaching of Pius X, and Study Circles of lads and girls at work, which encouraged Christian propaganda and evangelism in the factories. The Study Circles carried out certain enquiries into the moral and physical environment of young people at work, which revealed how appalling conditions were, and how they made the practice of Christianity virtually impossible.

The founder of the J.O.C., Canon Cardijn, as a young seminarist was impressed by the horror of the conditions in most factories; his father died as the result of overwork. He was also impressed by two other factors. When he went home during the holidays from his seminary his old school friends, now at work, refused to have anything to do with him; he was now a member of a body which seemed too much bound up with the established order of things to help the workers, and for whom it seemed to have no message. The other factor was the English Trade Union movement; he spent many of his holidays round Manchester studying their methods, and was deeply impressed by their religious earnestness.

Such was the outlook of the young priest who went to work in 1912 in the industrial suburb of Laeken, outside Brussels. Much of his time was spent in house-to-house visiting, examining at first hand the conditions under which his people lived. He came across a group of girls, not more than thirteen or fourteen years old, working for twelve hours a day under very bad conditions and not knowing how to read or write. These he banded together in a group, first teaching them the elements of education, and then showing them that by working as a body they could develop their own Christianity and at the same time secure more Christian conditions of employment; he carried on something similar amongst the lads of the parish. Then came the war. In 1917 he was imprisoned by the Germans on a charge of espionage, and while in prison he had time to think out the whole problem of youth and industry and to plan the principles and methods by which the Church could deal with the problem.

At the end of the war it was felt that the time was ripe for the Church to do something more definite and concrete to help the young worker. The Eucharistic revival, started by Pius X, had meant a new outpouring of the divine life into the hearts of the faithful; there was an idea in the air of a movement amongst young Christians at work, carried on by themselves with the express purpose of winning the world of labour for Christ In 1919 Cardinal Mercier made Canon Cardijn general adviser for the social welfare work of the Church in Brussels, and a small paper, La Jeunesse Syndicaliste, was started. Under the leadership of Cardijn and other clergy interested in matters of sociology, groups of lads round Brussels began meeting to discuss the conditions of their work in relation to Christianity. In 1920 the groups were formed into a Federation; when they were only three hundred strong a monthly paper was started. Each Monday evening a central Study Circle met, consisting of some forty members, each in turn acting as chairman and secretary. Here they worked out the lines on which a great Christian movement amongst lads and girls at work might develop. The meetings proved a training ground for the future leaders of the J.O.C. The years 1921-1923 saw the gradual building in of these groups into the parochial life of industrial parishes, a process not accomplished without many set-backs and difficulties.

In the summer of 1924, after a lengthy discussion at a Congress of Christian workers and a conference on the subject amongst priests in charge of social work in the Walloon part of Belgium, the J.O.C. definitely came into being with a programme of Christian action amongst youth in industry. Young workers in each district were assembled at whole-day Study Circles, and there listened to explanations of the movement. They received it with enthusiasm, and went back to their various communes determined to bring it into being. The Belgian hierarchy put Canon Cardijn in charge of the movement. In April, 1925, a first General Congress was held and Canon Cardijn expounded the movement's programme. In 1926 it spread to France. In Belgium it now numbers some eighty-five thousand lads and girls, 15 per cent, of the whole population between fourteen and twenty-five; in France fifty thousand. There are branches in Holland, Switzerland, Portugal, certain South American States, Canada, and at Wigan and North London amongst English Roman Catholics.

Since it began the Liturgical movement has been exercising considerable influence on the Continent. Much of the spiritual teaching of the J.O.C., especially in its emphasis on corporate worship and the nature of the Church as the mystical body of Christ, is based on the latter movement.

The origins of the J.O.C. reveal certain important facts which we might well bear in mind in the Church of England when thinking about our youth work.

1. It was the result of a definite trend of theological, sociological and devotional teaching; it represents the practical expression of the thought of two great Popes, Leo XIII and Pius X.

2. The founder of the J.O.C. had thought out his principles before starting; he knew exactly what he wanted to do; and, what is even more important, his programme was based on realities; as much as any priest can, he knew the actual conditions which the lad or girl at work had to face.

3. The movement has gone hand in hand with a revival in liturgical worship and a renewed understanding of the Church as the mystical body of Christ.

4. There are very definite evils and abuses in the industrial life of many continental countries for such a movement to combat—evils and abuses which have long since disappeared in England.

5. The teaching of Leo XIII had familiarised the rank and file of the Roman Church with the idea of Christians acting together for Christian ends.


It is difficult to sum them up in one sentence. Canon Cardijn in explaining the movement starts from our Lord's words, “I am the life.” This sentence from St. John's Gospel provides the best summary of its teaching. A jocist looks on these words of our Lord as meaning that not only our life in the Church, our devotional life, is to be brought under His rule, but that every part of man's life as a public and private individual is to own His kingship; to Christ belongs the whole of human life. The thought of Christ the King plays a great part in the spirituality of Jocism.

From this two considerations follow:

1. The Church has a special care for the temporal as well as the spiritual welfare of young people at work. The lads and girls who leave school at fourteen are quite unfitted spiritually or morally for the new problems which confront them. Frequently they are thrust into jobs for which they have no aptitude or vocation. It means the end of all real education, just when they have reached the age when it is most necessary and valuable; night schools, from which all religious and spiritual teaching is banished, give them a materialistic outlook on life. They engage in forms of leisure which, if not morally harmful, are usually stupid. The physical conditions under which they work often permanently damage their health; death or permanent disablement may result from lack of adequate precautions against accidents from machinery. The moral atmosphere of a large works, especially where both sexes are employed, makes it almost impossible for them to keep straight. The strained relations existing between employers and employed give them a wrong idea of industrial life. They never hear of the principles of Christian sociology, and so are liable to be carried away by the erroneous teaching of Fascism and Communism, which they pick up in conversation with their mates. To sum up, this state of affairs produces in lads and girls a hostile or indifferent attitude to religion, an anti-social mentality, a lack of any conscience about their work and a moral and physical decadence.

But the foundations of modern society are built up on the world of industry and labour; the future of society depends on the character of those engaged in industry, more particularly the younger members. The present state of the latter must therefore cause grave fears about the future of society. The Church, which exists to make the kingship of Christ a reality, is bound to take notice of conditions which are making the practice of Christianity a virtual impossibility amongst those who are the future leaders of the industrial and mechanist civilisation which is to be.

2. Lads and girls in industry are souls for whom Christ died; they are not animals, slaves, or instruments of production, but sons of God with an eternal destiny. They were created by God to share in His nature, His life, His love. The sole reason for their existence is that one day they may enjoy the beatific vision. God has called them in this life to be workers; that is their vocation in life; and chiefly by their life at work they will achieve their eternal destiny. The Church, because they are her children, must help them to achieve this divine destiny through the sanctification of their lives and their work. She must plant the standard of Christ the King over the workshops and factories of the world because on what happens there hangs the fate of the most priceless thing in the world, the immortal souls of her children.

But the Church officially can do very little; for the nineteenth century witnessed one of the great tragedies in Christian history, the divorce of religion from industrial life and the alliance of Christianity with the propertied classes. To the average man in a factory Christianity appears as part of a system which for years has sought to deprive him and his fellows of their just rights and to make them instruments of production; he regards it with indifference, if not active dislike, and has no use for the Church or the clergy. A situation has arisen which the clergy themselves cannot deal with effectually.

In the light of this, Canon Cardijn while in prison in 1917 came to see that there was a need for some organisation, run not by the clergy, but by Christian lads and girls at work, which would help them to lead a life in accordance with their divine destiny; it would have to be an organisation which was at one and the same time a school, a social service, and a body able to represent, speak and act for Christian youth at work. These three things the J.O.C. claims to be.

1. It is a school which aims at making its members conscious of their rights and duties as Christian workers; it does not try to make them ashamed of working with their hands or turn them into black-coated workers; rather it impresses on them the glory of human labour and makes them proud of working with their hands, since the eternal Son of God worked in a shop in His shirt-sleeves. They have a statue of our Lord as a young workman in His shirt-sleeves, holding a carpenter's plane. It is a school which embraces the whole of their life, their individual, social, professional and emotional life, and teaches them to examine it, criticise it and live it in accordance with their destiny, both temporal and eternal. It teaches them to look forward to having a Christian home, and trains them to be Christian husbands and fathers. It fills them with a desire to work together as a body for the material and spiritual welfare of their town, their country and humanity.

2. It is a social service aiming at the transformation of the working surroundings of its members through the spread of Christian ideas on the organisation of society and industry. It fights the miseries and evils in the world of labour and seeks to re-Christianise that world through those who are its members.

3. It is an organisation which fights for the rights, both material and spiritual, of the young Christian worker. Through information acquired in the questionnaires which the J.O.C. issues from time to time to its members, it has been able, for instance, to amass evidence in Belgium of the consistent underpaying of those between fourteen and twenty, and also of the moral degradation resulting in mixed factories from inadequate cloak-room accommodation, evidence sufficient to compel the public authorities to take the matter in hand and remedy these evils.

In short, Jocism is something which through and by its members seeks to rebuild our industrial civilisation on the basis of Christian justice and equity under the Kingship of Christ, Himself a worker. It aims at making the young man at work proud of being a Christian and of the beauty and grandeur of the destiny to which God has called him ; it sends him out in a spirit of victory and conquest to fight the paganism of the modern world. Its ideal is a new generation of Christians- one, in the words of the Jocist song, “vaillants, fiers, purs, joyeux et conquérants.”2


The centre of the J.O.C, in Belgium consists of two General Secretariats in Brussels; one for girls in the Rue de la Poste, and one for lads at the opposite end of the town in the Boulevard Poincaré, about two minutes' walk from the Gare du Midi. The latter is an imposing building. On the ground floor is a large restaurant which caters especially for Jocists. Upstairs are the offices of the movement, bedrooms where Jocists whose home is not in Brussels can live, and a chapel beautiful in its austerity, with a moving statue of St. Joseph as a workman in modern dress.

The male and female sides are organised separately. The present writer saw very little of the work amongst girls; but he gathered that it works on more or less the same lines as that among lads, but not so developed. This booklet deals only with the male side. The male and female sides are further organised in two departments, one for the Flemish and one for the French speaking Belgians. The movement, incidentally, seems to be one of the few things in Belgian national life which is trying to unite the French and Flemish traditions.

The unit of the J.O.C, is a Section, which may consist of anything from twenty to forty members; thirty to forty sections form a Regional Federation; in Belgium these number seventeen. To each Federation is attached a paid Propagandist, a young man who has been a worker; he guides the policy of the Federation and keeps it in touch with the headquarters at Brussels. The leaden from all the Federations meet in Brussels at intervals; the leaders of each Section in a Federation meet monthly, usually on a Sunday and for the whole day, to discuss mutual difficulties and plan future lines of action.

The working of a Section is best grasped by looking at the way it starts in a parish. The Curé or a Jocist from the Regional Federation picks out two or three likely lads, preferably about seventeen in age and employed in the most important works in the parish. Canon Cardijn says that in every parish there is one such lad waiting to be found. These the Curé or Jocist from outside gathers together in a Study Circle, and there trains them as the future leaders of the Section, or Militants as they are called. Canon Cardijn emphasises the need of keeping the initial group small; it should be what he calls “un petit noyau.”

The development of the future Section proceeds by well- defined stages. The two or three future Militants have first to be convinced that the ordinary lad at work needs helping, and that without a full and living Christianity his life is futile and aimless. When they have grasped this point they have to be inspired with a desire of bringing the Christian Faith to their fellows. Gradually they come to see that it is only through the J.O.C. that the youth of their town will be helped and a new Christian world built up. The Study Circle then follows a syllabus outlined in a pamphlet, Comment lancer une Section. It meets once a week and each member in turn keeps a record of the proceedings. The programme, which is timed to last about an hour and a quarter, falls into three divisions: Bible study, a discussion of the progress of the Jocist idea in the parish, and an enquiry into some problem of industrial life.

The Bible study consists of a passage read by one of the members, followed by an explanation relating it to their work. The Curé is advised to leave this as much as possible to the members, so that they may get used to talking about their Faith and be able to defend and propagate it in the language which they and the people they work with understand.

Bible study is followed by a discussion of the possibilities of spreading Jocism in the parish ; lists are made by streets of lads who are at work ; the members of the Study Circle see how many they know and plan out how they can get in touch with them and attract them to the movement. At subsequent meetings they recount the results of their efforts and talk over the possibility of getting those who seemed interested to take in the Jocist weekly paper, La Jeunesse Ouvrière; they think over who among these are likely to make future Militants. At the same time they are making practical enquiries about the conditions under which young people live and work in their commune, the incidence of employment, the wages paid, the state of their homes, the places they frequent in their leisure hours. All the information which each member acquires is brought to the Study Circle and pooled and digested. The method, known in the jargon of the movement as an enquête, enables them to see what Christianity has to face in trying to win the working lad in their town and to plan the movement in accordance with local conditions.

The third division of the Study Circle is occupied with the examination of some problem of industrial life. In the pamphlet Comment lancer une Section the subjects dealt with in the first two months are: the choice of a career and getting a job; apprenticeship; wages; conditions of work and unemployment as these affect the young; the housing problem. The subject is usually opened by one of the members, after preparing it with the Curé or, if possible, one of the Regional Committee, and dealt with by question and discussion. The method adopted is that of reviewing all the facts at issue in connection with the problem, judging them in the light of the Christian ethic, and talking over the possibilities of some practical action either as individual workers or as members of the J.O.C. This is the famous Jocist method of conducting a discussion group, summed up in the French phrase, “Voir, juger, agir.”

The syllabus in Comment lancer une Section is planned to last five months. During this time the members of the Study Circle have been getting in touch with and making friends with likely future Jocists; by propaganda each member has collected round him a small group of lads at work, whom he tries to inoculate with the Jocist idea. The group is known as his équipe. He prays for them and tries to make them good Jocists; within the group a spirit of camaraderie and friendship develops. A group will work together, perhaps, in carrying out some piece of Christian propaganda, in making enquiries about local conditions of labour or preparing for the monthly General Assembly of the Section.

By the time the original Jocists in a Section have completed the syllabus in Comment lancer une Section, three meetings of all those whom they have been able to interest have been held. This type of meeting, which eventually becomes the monthly gathering of the whole Section, is called a General Assembly. It is very carefully prepared for; each leader and his group make themselves responsible for some part of the programme or the necessary preparations. The leaders of each group see that their members turn up. The programme is of a far more general nature than that of the Study Circle. It consists of a subject of interest to working lads, introduced by one of the leaders, and partly of games and amusements.

When a Section has come into being it will be managed by a Committee, made up of the two or three original members, which is responsible for the working of the Section. It is usually chosen by the Regional Federation; and if efficient kept in office over a fairly long period. Committees elected by the Section have not proved a success owing to the members being chosen more for their athletic qualities than anything else. It meets at least once a month. There will be a weekly Study Circle for the more promising members of the Section, where they are trained as Militants; it will be presided over by one of the Committee called a Dirigeant. There will be the monthly meeting of the whole Section in the General Assembly.

The work of the Sections is laid down in a monthly publication called the Bulletin des Dirigeants. This means that each month the whole of the Belgian J.O.C., both male and female, is studying and acting as one body and one organism. Here will be found the business to be dealt with by the Committee, the subjects to be discussed in the weekly Study Circles of the Militants, the programme of the General Assembly. In July, 1938, for instance, the Militants at their first and last Study Circle discussed certain practical objects which the J.O.C. was trying at the moment to accomplish, at the second the apostolate of our Lord and their share in it, at the third the question of physical health and its relation to the life of the soul. The meeting of the General Assembly in the same month aimed at making Jocists use their leisure in attending physical health centres and making excursions. The programme consisted of prayers, a Jocist song, minutes of the last meeting, welcome to new members, another Jocist song, a few words from the Curé on the apostolate of our Lord and the parallel between our Lord's life as a worker and their own, a talk on the right use of leisure by one of the Militants on the threefold basis of “voir, juger, agir,” and at the end more songs and games.

The present writer was privileged to be allowed to attend a Study Circle of Militants in a Brussels parish. The Section comprised some sixty-five members. The Study Circle met in a small upstairs room in the local, what in England would be a parish institute. There were thirteen present and two came in late; they were mostly about seventeen and employed in large stores and works. One of their number about twenty-one took the chair; the Curé sat next to him. The meeting began with the Jocist prayer, led by the chairman, and two songs, the Jocist song referred to above and a new one which the members were learning to sing when out hiking. The secretary read the minutes, and a discussion followed on what had happened to the absentees and details connected with the running of the Study Circle. One or two were given the opportunity of bringing up anything which had struck them' at their work since the last meeting. A member, by arrangement with the chairman, read an article from a French paper on some subject connected with factory life. The paper had no religious views; but when the reader had finished, the chairman related it to Jocist principles.

The subject of retreats next came up; four or five had recently been to one, and they said quite openly whether they had kept or not kept the resolutions which they had made there. They talked about difficulties in the way of coming to Mass and making their Communion. One said it was hard as he had to be up at six each morning; but he was told by the rest that he could quite well get up earlier and go to Mass before going to work.

The chairman spoke about the arrangements for a rally being held in honour of Rerum Novarum; they were to meet at a definite spot in a white shirt with the Jocist badge and tie (which is orange or maroon) and march to the place where the rally was to be held. Speeches were to be made in praise of the Christian view of society; the whole thing was intended to be a great gathering of Christian workers. One imagined that it was meant to be a Christian counterblast to the May Day celebrations of the Socialists.

After dealing for a few minutes with the part Jocism should play in the parish and family, the meeting listened to a talk from a young man from the Regional Federation who spoke on the difficulties and temptations of young lads at work. He emphasised them especially in the matter of religion, and showed how a lad could be helped by belonging to a Christian Trade Union. He spoke too of the possibility and rightness of strikes on the part of Christian workers. But the main portion of his talk was devoted to stressing the point that a new social order had to be built up on a relationship of Christian justice and equity between employers and employed. It would never come by Christians acting apart; individualism was not enough; Christians must unite and act as a body. Questions followed on Trade Unionism and unemployment; and the meeting ended with the speaker impressing 'on the Study Circle the importance of belonging to a Christian Union.

Such, briefly, is the way Jocism works in a parish; the methods adopted make the reasons for its success obvious.

1. It inspires in its members a sense of friendship and brotherhood, and in a far finer sense than these words are usually understood in England. Each Jocist is convinced that Christianity is the one thing that can give any meaning to the lives of his fellow-workers, and the one thing that can help them spiritually and temporally. He wants the people whom he meets each day at work to find a meaning and purpose in their life which only Christianity can give. He wants their work to be organised on Christian principles; he wants them to be real Christians, really to pray, to find in Christianity their soul's desire.

2. It is essentially a lay movement and is run by the members themselves. The clergy outwardly" play little part in it. Its activities are run by the members. The leaders, for instance, of a Regional Federation will meet for the whole day by themselves and plan the future work of the Federation without any clergy being present; yet all their discussions will be carried on with a deep sense of man's spiritual destiny. In a parish the clergy-advise but do not direct; and for this purpose a priest, called an aumônier, is attached to each Section. In the handbooks the clergy are advised to keep in the background when a Section starts in a parish, so that possible recruits may not be frightened away. The laity are trusted ; they are given something big to do, and they respond.

3. Each member of the Section has a job, either individually or as a member of a group. It may be selling the Jeunesse Ouvrière, making enquiries about conditions in local factories, winning to the movement certain definite people whom they meet at work, taking part in the preparations for the monthly General Assembly.

4. It works on a distinction between leaders, in this case the Militants, and ordinary members. The Militants are trained to be the real strength of the movement, and form a nucleus round which a new type of Christian working lad can gather. The business of the clergy is confined to training Militants who in their factories and workshops will save the souls of their fellow-workers.

5. It does not make a god of numbers. Each Section works in small groups. The Study Circles for the Militants are seldom larger than twelve; a Section often starts with one or two. The handbooks advise waiting till the right person is found before starting in a parish. Beginning with the wrong kind of person has usually been fatal to the success of the movement in a district. The smallness of the groups makes for friendship and a free interchange of views, especially on religious topics, impossible in a larger unit.

6. Each Section develops in its members, especially the Militants, a sense of responsibility and leadership. Nothing is free; each member pays a monthly subscription and, considering the rate of wages, it is high. In the French number of the Jeunesse Ouvrière for the beginning of July, 1938, there was an account of how three Militants in a small Section on a French industrial town discovered that a great deal of harm was being done to young men in their works through the circulation of immoral literature. They found the kiosk where it was sold, and succeeded in getting the public authorities to forbid the sale to those under twenty-five.

7. The planning of the work from headquarters well in advance gives to the work of each Section a sense of aim and direction, of getting somewhere.

8. The Jocist handbooks all emphasise that the work of a Section in its meetings and Study Circles is not an end in itself, but a means to an end, the re-Christianisation of their environment at work. Their training at the Section meetings looks the whole time towards their work. By what they are able to accomplish in the factory or workshop that training is judged.


In Belgium the J.O.C. provides much which is done in this country by friendly societies and the State. It has a hospital service which from the Secrétariat-Général in Brussels keep in touch with all Jocists who are in hospital. If necessary, it secures them longer time in hospital than would normally be allowed, and afterwards sees that they go to a convalescent home. It has a fund for giving sick Jocists small luxuries. If a Jocist is in hospital he receives a letter regularly from the Secrétariat-Général; he is visited by other Jocists, and is encouraged to make converts and spread the principles of Jocism in the ward. The movement has gained many new adherents in this way. A picture specially printed for sick Jocists is sent to him to hang over his bed ; he is taught to use his illness and to offer his prayers while in bed for those preparing for the priesthood. In one sanatorium the director, a Socialist and freemason, refused to allow a sick Jocist to see a priest; the J.O.C. took the matter to the governor of the province and secured the director's dismissal.

It runs camps for Jocists who are unemployed; they pay, if they can afford it, ten francs a day. A young working man is in charge of the camp; there the lads are taught something of the discipline and glory of work, so that when they find employment again they may be capable and competent workmen. Each day begins with prayers before the Blessed Sacrament, physical exercises and Mass; while the Mass is going on the prayers are often said aloud in the vernacular by a layman to help them take their full share in the service. Silence is insisted on after evening prayers, so that in the quiet they may have an opportunity of learning to pray. Before the periods of work the whole camp visits the Blessed Sacrament, and the Jocist prayer is said offering the work to our Lord; the Angelus is said by all at the usual times. These camps have been described as a magnificent realisation of Christian communism.

At nineteen every Belgian has to serve seventeen months in the army, though in certain cases exemptions can be' obtained. Jocism prepares its members in a realistic manner for the temptations to which military life exposes them; it encourages a sense of brotherhood amongst Jocists in a barracks; and the older ones are taught to look after those who are beginning to serve their time.

When a Jocist comes out of the army he is encouraged to think about marriage; evening parties are held in a parish under the supervision of parents, where he has a chance of meeting the other sex. There are Study Circles in preparation for marriage, and the wedding itself is looked upon as a family event of the whole Section; the photographs of the couple usually appear in the next issue of the Jocist newspaper.

The movement has a horror, on the whole, of mixed activities; plays are produced by the sexes separately; dances are forbidden by the Belgian hierarchy in any building owned by the Church. At one time mixed Study Circles were tried, but they were a failure.

The forms of leisure most encouraged are cycling and camping, though in the Jeunesse Ouvrière there is always a section on what films are worth seeing. Camping is done in parties; a Militant always goes with the party, and he is responsible for seeing that the party goes to Mass on Sunday morning. In some parts the movement has its own hostels with a chaplain attached.

When Jocism had been going for a number of years it was often found difficult to help a boy starting work at fourteen because he was completely unprepared for the life of a factory and liable to get a totally wrong conception of working life before he could be drawn into the movement. Of late years there has developed what is called Pré-jocisme, a department of the movement dealing with boys from eleven to fourteen; it aims at preparing them for their life in a factory or workshop; it is usually run by the Militants of the Section in a parish; it has its own paper, Mon Avenir, a kind of Christian Merry and Bright. There are monthly meetings, consisting of a discussion on working life among the pre-Jocists, a talk by someone in a works on his job (and if possible he brings his tools with him), a talk from the Curé, and games. The pre-Jocists can undergo a medical examination, provided by Jocism, to see what work they are best fitted for; and Jocism has its own employment bureau to find them the right kind of work. Before they actually start work, they have a quiet day or retreat in preparation for their earthly calling as Christian workers.


Jocism, with its emphasis on the temporal welfare of the worker and its elaborate scheme of social services, is apt to give the impression that it is nothing but a humanitarian organisation with a veneer of Catholicism. Such is far from the case. Even the shortest contact with the movement as it is found working abroad leaves no doubt that religion is its heart and soul. The Jocist looks on his religion as a light capable of illuminating all the problems that trouble the conscience of the young worker.

The centre of its religion is naturally the Mass, and special emphasis is laid on the sacrificial aspect. The Jocist prayer card has a picture of a priest offering at the altar a paten with one large host and many small ones; the latter represent the lives of the Jocists offered in the Mass to God in union with our Lord's most perfect offering. Jocists are taught to communicate at least once a month; often they communicate on a week-day and afterwards go straight to work, eating nothing till the dinner hour; for they have learnt to realise that their religion means sacrifice and self-discipline. Each Section is usually represented at the daily Mass by one of its members. Canon Cardijn has publicly stated that he wants to see the working day begin much later, so that those who go to work may have an opportunity of beginning their day by making their Communion; daily Communion is the vision he sets before the Jocists.3

When a Jocist becomes slack in his religious duties other Jocists look him up and try to bring him along with them; the Curé only steps in when this has proved unavailing. The Militants make a retreat once a year, and once a quarter they have a quiet day. The movement encourages its members in their private prayers to pray with the Church. The Jocist missal suggests that when making their Communion outside the Mass they should use the prayers of the Mass as their preparation. It also gives them a form of Prime to say as their morning prayers.

The most remarkable expression of their Christianity is what is known as the Easter Campaign. This is a campaign to secure a certain amount of observance of Good Friday, which in France and Belgium is a working day, and to bring people back to their Easter duties. As an observance of Good Friday it aims at the stopping of all work and keeping silence for a few moments at three o'clock in the afternoon. About the middle of Lent a special edition of the Jeunesse Ouvrière is brought out. In the 1938 number the front page, in order to attract people, was occupied with articles on physical health. The modern pagan and sub-Christian after he has digested these articles naturally turns to the centre pages and finds articles dealing with the health of the soul, explanations of the meaning of Good Friday, and the reasons for making one's Confession and Communion at Easter. Full directions are given on how to make one's Confession and Communion.

This paper the Jocists distribute all round the factories and from house to house. Often they are met with jeers and laughter and get it thrown back at them. They ask people whatever they may be doing to keep a few moments' silence at three o'clock on Good Friday afternoon and to pray. In each parish on Easter Day the Jocists bring lapsed young people back to their Communions, and afterwards a breakfast is held. It is said that this campaign has meant that some 60 per cent of the population in some places in Belgium made their Confession and Communion at Easter.

The Jocists through Lent practise great self-denial as an act of intercession for the Easter Campaign. They ask the manager of the factory or shop where they work to allow everything to stop on Good Friday afternoon at three o'clock for a few minutes; in some places where their request is granted a bell is rung to announce the stopping of work. But whether the manager grants their request or not, every Jocist, wherever he is, whether at work, in a barracks or at home, kneels down at three o'clock on Good Friday afternoon and says aloud the Jocist prayer, while onlookers often stand round and jeer. This simple act of witness must be one of the most converting things in modern Christianity.

Two points especially are stressed in the spiritual teaching of Jocism; that the life and work of the laity is an extension of the priesthood and that our Lord was a worker. The Mass is regarded as summing up and giving meaning to the whole of life; for the life of each Jocist is to be consecrated like the Host to God. The work he does is an extension of the priest's Mass and is to be offered to God in union with our Lord's offering. Their workshop is to be their Church, their table or bench their Altar, their work their Mass.4 In Canon Cardijn's words, “All life ought to sing Glory be to God on High, all life ought to be a public confession of faith, a Credo, a Preface to the glory of the eternal Trinity.”5

The best illustration of their thought on Christ as a worker is to be found in this year's number of the Jeunesse Ouvrière dealing with the Easter Campaign.

“Christ was a worker like us. He is the divine worker, the Son of God, God Himself. Each worker, each young worker, is His brother, His friend. Comrade, never forget this. In His time labour was something only for slaves and outcasts; the workers just suffered and toiled for their masters without any freedom or choice in the matter. But by His example the Christ, the divine worker, has shown that labour is not something degrading, since He the Son of God was a worker. By His teaching on charity He has delivered the workers from slavery. For He taught that every man, however small or insignificant or unhappy, was His brother, a child of God whom one must respect and love. In Christ and in Him alone the workers find true freedom, and their real grandeur and dignity. Comrade, Easter is coming. It is the time when all Christians go to receive their God in Communion. You are a Christian, for you have been baptised and made your first Communion. You also should go then to your Easter duties. Come with us to receive into your heart this friend beyond compare, Christ our God and our Brother.”6


Can such a movement as the J.O.C. help us in our youth work in the Church of England? It is said that we cannot use the grave material evils of modern industrialism as a point de depart in the same way as the continental J.O.C. Up to a point this is true. In the South of England, at any rate, these evils on a large scale are almost non-existent; our factories from a material point of view are model factories, and those who are in work get, comparatively speaking, good wages. Many of the social services which are a source of strength to the J.O.C. are in this country provided by the State or friendly societies. In England, too, the State has at heart many of the sociological aims of the J.O.C. But while the sociological policy of the J.O.C. is Christian through and through in its inspiration, the social and industrial legislation of Parliament and the efforts in this country to improve the conditions under which the mass of the population work and live, are mainly humanitarian and often frankly pagan. They stop short at the body and forget that man has an immortal soul. Exactly as in Belgium, the lad or girl who at fourteen goes to work drifts away from the Church. Though he is not exposed to the same material evils as his Belgian counterpart, his position from a moral and material point of view is much the same. He is quite unprepared for the new life at work, its problems, difficulties and temptations. Money may be good, but he has never learnt to use it; it is spent in amusements which give him a wholly false view of life. His mind is corrupted by the passing of obscene literature and the constant foul conversation in the works and amongst his friends. After the novelty of going to work has worn off, his attitude towards it becomes dull and listless; it is a means of livelihood and nothing else. Lads' clubs, with their non- sectarian and non-religious outlook, only succeed in inculcating a healthy paganism; they have been deservedly castigated as the pests of the age. At home because he is now a wage- earner he is allowed to please himself and enjoy a freedom which he has never learnt to use.

We certainly need something similar to the J.O.C. in the Church of England. But its outward manifestations would naturally be different from those on the Continent. The Church of England for one thing, though claiming to be a national Church, is not like the Church of Rome in Belgium, a Church embracing practically all the community who wish to be thought Christians. It is only one amongst many other Christian bodies. But this need not deter us from thinking about a J.O.C. of our own; for it flourishes in a country like Switzerland, where the Church of Rome is not in sole possession of the Christian field.

We need, however, two things before we can think of inspiring our own young people with the Jocist vision of a new Christendom. The first is a definite Christian sociology. Our own sociology lacks the great broad principles and the clear grasp of the supernatural which mark Rerum Novarum and Quadragesima Anno. It is far more often sociological uplift than sociological thought. Whereas, too, the Roman Church in France and Belgium has made its sociology part of the mental make-up of the ordinary thinking laity, our sociology has failed to influence the mass of Anglicans. Its ideas are completely foreign to them, and they are accustomed to regard them as an insidious form of Communism. The working community of our country is quite ignorant of the ideals for which Westcott and Gore stood or of the work of the I.C.F. and such periodicals as Christendom. It has never grasped the fact that the God we worship at our altars lived as a worker on this earth, and that the religion of Christ alone gives meaning to the work of everyday life. Anglicans as a whole need to be taught and to let England learn in turn what the Christian Church teaches on such questions as wages, hours and conditions of employment, and that this teaching is not coterminous with democratic Socialism, Communism, Fascism or Capitalism, but a teaching with its own discipline and ethos.

Secondly, we must bring back amongst our people a deepened sense of the sacrificial aspect of the Eucharist and a realisation that the sacrifice which is consummated on our altars is something in which the whole Church and the life in its totality of each of its members are offered in Christ to God. We must learn to see that what is done at the altar alone gives meaning to life and represents the fulfilment and completion of what man should try to be and to do in his daily life. This does not necessarily mean the Parish Communion; for the latter is often an attempt to pander to man's innate laziness and to destroy the one means of preparation for Communion which simple people understand—namely, fasting. Unless there is real sacrifice in the lives of those present at the Eucharist, it is difficult to see now they can with any reality share in Christ's own offering. We are frightened of the word “sacrifice” in connection with worship; but sacrifice is the heart of Christianity. Until we come to terms with it in our Eucharistic thought and practice we cannot hope to conquer modern paganism for the Kingdom of God.

As Anglicanism learns these two lessons it can adopt into its youth work the fundamental principles of the J.O.C.: its insistence on the Christian aspect of labour, its idea of the redemption of the whole of life, its vision of a new world and a new people brought in by the Christian revolution, the fruit in turn of the sanctity and devotion of the Christian working lad and girl. Canon Cardijn ended a speech to the international Jocist Study Week held in 1935 with these words:

“Jocists, I am sending you back to your homes, your work, your Sections, your countries, with this watchword — 'Conquest.' Conquest of yourselves, Conquest of your comrades, Conquest of your surroundings at work, Conquest of your families, both those of to-day and those of the future.

“Jocists, be the glory of the Church; Jocists, be the glory of Christ; Jocists, be the honour of your country; Jocists, be the hope of our time.”7

Cannot we give our young people in the Church of England the same task and fire them with the same vision?


Lord Jesus, I offer to Thee my whole day, all my work, my struggles, my joys, and my sorrows.

Grant me and all my brother workers to think like Thee, to work with Thee, to live in Thee.

Help me to love Thee with all my heart and to serve Thee with all my strength.

May Thy Kingdom come in our factories, our workshops, our offices, our barracks and our homes.

May the souls of the workers who to-day will be in danger remain steadfast in Thy grace.

And by the mercy of God may those who have died through accidents at their work rest in peace. Sacred Heart of Jesus, bless the J.O.C.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, sanctify the J.O.C.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, may Thy Kingdom come through the J.O.C.

Queen of the Apostles, pray for us.



Kothen: Catholic Action and the Young Christian Workers' Movement, Liverpool Archidiocesan Board of Catholic Action. (The best account in English.)

Young Catholic Workers, a 1 ½d. pamphlet to be obtained from the offices of the Catholic Worker, 16, Darlington Street, Wigan.

The Sign, March, 1937, art. “Jocism, a Christian Challenge.” (The Sign is a periodical edited by the Passionist Fathers in U.S.A.)

The Young Christian Worker, a monthly publication of the Jocist movement in the Church of Rome in England. Blackfriars, October, 1938, art. “Progress of the Y.C.W.”

Bayart: L'Action Catholique Spécialisée.

Cardijn: Vie Morale des Jeunes Travailleurs.

Cardijn: La J.O.C.

Cardijn: Ite, Missa Est.

Programme GénéraI de la J.O.C. (The most useful account in French.)

Semaine d'Études Internationale de la J.O.C., 25-29 Août, 1935.

L'Appel de la J.O.C.

Comment lancer une Section.

L'Action de l'Aumônier.

Le Comité.

L'Assemblée Générale.

Le Guide Préjociste.

La Jeunesse Ouvrière, the Jocist weekly paper.

Bulletin des Dirigeants, a monthly publication which contains the subject matter for Jocist meetings for each month. Invaluable for anyone responsible for running youth fellowships and Study Circles. The subscription is twenty Belgian francs a year.

The English publications can be obtained from the headquarters of the J.O.C. in England, 22, Blantyre Street, Wigan

An experiment on Jocist lines is now running in the Church of England. It is known as the Christian Workers' Union, information on how to start and run branches can be had on application to the Secretary, The Christian Workers' Union, The Priory, Chaucer Close, Parson Cross, Sheffield 5.

Printed in Great Britain by Billing and Sons Ltd., Guildford and Esher


1Published by the Liverpool Archidiocesan Board of Catholic Action under the title, Catholic Action and the Young Christian Workers' Movement.

2This song is a Christian counterpart to the “Red Flag.” Its chorus runs:

“Forts de nos droits, soyons vaillants, Fiers, purs, joyeux et conquérants, Serrons les rangs ! Hardi ! serrons les rangs !

Jocistes, en avant!" The English Jocists have a similar song entitled “Rouse Up.”

3 Ite, Missa Est, pp. 19-20.

4 L'Ame d'un Militant, p. 45.

5 Ite, Missa Est, p. 9.

6 La Jeunesse Ouvrière, March 24, 1938.

7Semaine d'Études Internationale de la J.O.C., August, 1935, pp. 64-65.