CATHOLIC EXPERT'S STARTLING TOUR OF 50 U.S. CITIES
150,000 FORM NUCLEUS OF MONSTER CAMPAIGN
By a Cif. Reporter " IN A FEW YEARS GREAT MASSES OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE MAY BE CONVERTED TO CATHOLICISM."
PAUL MAGUIRE, EXPERT ON CATHOLIC ACTION, WHO HAS JUST RETURNED FROM A FOUR AND A HALF MONTHS' LECTURE TOUR OF THE UNITED STATES, WAS IN JUBILANT MOOD WHEN I SAW HIM ON TUESDAY. HE WAS ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT THE POSSIBILITI ES OF CATHOLIC ACTION IN U.S.
They didn't come, these audiences, just for a nice rest with maybe a spot of cheering. They came to find out what Catholic Action was, and
where, how and when they could get the Action started. There were no awkward silences at question times. Forty questions was the average number asked. In New York inquisitiveness was highest, there 262 questions were asked.
Y.C.W. MOVEMENT STARTED IN OKLAHOMA " The work of regrowing the Christian community in America is the work of Catholic Action, and it is," says Paul Maguire, " already healthily evident to the most unobservant."
An American branch of the Young Christian Workers' Movement has been started. For some years Y.C.W. has been strong in Canada, where there are at present 40,000 individual members, and in the similar organisation for older workers more than 60,000 families.
Now the Y.C.W. has come to America. A priest of Oklahoma, Father Kanolly, who knows and understands the workers, who was himself once a garage hand, has been made American director of the movement.
EVERY WORKER A SHAREHOLDER Paul Maguire told me of the increase of study clubs all over America. "In Newhaven, town of 300,000 people, there are 200 study clubs, and that proportion is not exceptional."
He told me also of the growth of labour schools, particularly in Detroit diocese; of the growth of Catholic Rural Action, by which farmers are formed into co-operative unions, similar to those organised by Fr. Tomkins among the fishers and miners of Nova Scotia; of parish credit unions, especially in those parts where German Catholics are in the majority (in Cincinnati there are now so many parish credit unions that they have been able to form their own central bank); and of profit sharing by Catholic employers, industrialists.
In one Catholic firm, whose premises he examined on his tour, he found every !worker a shareholder, and the president of the board of directors a negro floor sweeper.
But most remarkable sign of the vigour of America's Catholicism was the !Catholic Action school at Chicago.
HITCH HIKED 400 MILES TO C.A. SCHOOL According to Maguire : " Three hundred and fifty people, priests and laymen, attended the course of Catholic .Action given by him at this school. There were conferences each afternoon for the priests, and each evening for the laymen.
" All the laymen present were delegates from Catholic societies. Some of them, youths between eighteen and twenty, from Toledo, had hitch-hiked 400 vales in order to get to the conference.
"These youths represented a group of Catholic workers, founded on Jocist lines, which has in four months grown from seven to two hundred.
" This Fall in eighteen strategic cities, schools of Catholic Action, like the one of Chicago, only of more permanent character, will be set up. I shall go out to America again this winter, but this time on no lecture tour, but simply as lecturer to these schools."
Maguire had great admiration for the Catholic Worker movement, originated by Dorothy Day.
" The Catholic Worker movement has quickened the American conscience."
BLACK v. WHITE There are vast problems that Catholic !Action has to overcome somehow in America, Maguire talked on these problems.
Out of twelve million negroes only a !quarter of a million are Catholic, and a lot of the White Catholics are as intransigently contemptuous of the negroes as the Southern Protestants are.
The bright hope is the Inter-racial Group, through which Fr. John LaFarge, S..% editor of the famous Catholic weekly, America, has been instrumental in helping many negroes to become nuns and priests.
CATHOLICS GO TO BIG CITIES
But Black v. White isn't the only racial problem, All the different sets of immigrants have tended strongly to remain together as a racial community, rather than disperse among the other peoples. So that Catholic Action undertaken by the Poles of Chicago is very often not known or not considered by the Germans of the same city. This kind of racial isolation is breaking down gradually, but it still severely restrains action.
A third big problem Is that Catholics have concentrated themselves in the big cities. Maguire puts it this way :
"Forty per cent. of Chicago is Catholic, 70 per cent. of Boston, most of San Francisco, New York and Philadelphia are also Catholic. The birth rates of these cities tend to fall, and naturally the Catholic birth rate Is affected by the fall."
Maguire thought the chances of America emerging in not so many years as a Christian community, particularly strong. This confidence is based on all the signs he saw, in the churches, and in the daily lives of the people, of a vigorous devotional life.