Year of new growth, progress and opportunity predicted
Catholic Herald Reporter
CATHOLIC organisations and societies
throughout Britain are this week confidently predicting that 1963 will be for them and for the entire Catholic community "another year of growth, progress and opportunity."
Socia I, educational and missionary groups are all planning for increased membership. a wider range of activities and greater results.
A CATHOLIC HERALD Survey of some of the leading national societies this week produced the following overall picture :
The Sword of the Spirit is planning to concentrate its attention during the next 12 months on stimulating a sense of personal responsibility to the developing countries. The aim is to help Catholics in this country to give effective help to the people in the developing countries through a deeper understanding of their needs.
Adult conferences and schools' conferences will all be angled on this theme. The work of the National Chaplain for Overseas Students will be supported by means of joint study groups for Europeans and Africans. Asians, Latin Americans, on specialist problems. Special conferences and social functions are to be arranged with overseas students.
The Sword of the Spirit's National Secretary, Miss Margaret Feeny, said that three special objectives for the coming year were : (I) To publicise the opportunities for service overseas and to encourage Catholics to volune teer; (2) to promote and extend the word of the Sword's book-aid scheme. sending more and better books to needy centres and colleges overseas; (3) to create active support for the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development.
Within the next few weeks. the Sword will be publishing a pamphlet on religion and Communism in Africa, by the late Walter Kolarz. There will also be a survey of Communism in Asia, written by Douglas Hyde.
Anonymous donations received by the Sword before Christmas included £1,000 (to help provide extra staff. etc. for the enquiry and consultative work involved in finding volunteers for overseas' work). and £500 (to help pay the rent for new premises, etc.. used in the Sword's book-aid scheme).
The Young Christian Students' national organisers held a conference on Friday for nuns, priests and lay people from schools and parishes wheie YCS groups are active. The theme of the conference was the student apostolate and problems which teachers will have to overcome in the New Year to help students to be apostles.
Next Wedneaday, heads of YCS sections in various parts of the country will be meeting in Manchester to draw up a study-andaction programme for the new year. This will be on Europe and the student arrl problems of dialogue.
Fr. John P. Fay, YCS National Chaplain, said this week: "This question of dialogue with Europe is a must now. and the student
world has to get down to taking a good look at Europe, seeing how much we can learn and benefit from European countries. The YCS programme for the coming year hopes to work this into our student thinking '.
Leaders of Young Christian Worker groups throughout the country will be starting an enquiry next week into new problems of working life, discussing these problems at the local level and sending relevant data to the London headquarters for compiling into a national survey.
In February. a two-week residential training course in advanced leadership will be held by the Y.C.W. in North Wales. There will also be a weekend conference at Shetlield for some 60 Y.C.W. leaders who are concentrating on preparing school-leavers for working life.
Mr. R. Walsh, National Secretary of the Catholic Social Guild, said this week that the Guild's chief concern in the New Year would be to provide basic education material. To assist studies in Catholic Social Doctrine, the Guild is publishing a book. "Planned Social Study", early in January.
Ten thousand copies are at the moment being printed of a 24-page pamphlet written by Fr. Charles Pridgeon, S.J., to give a questionand-answer analysis of Muter et Magistra. The Knights of St. Columba and the Catholic Young Men's Society will be helping to push sales of this. and it is hoped that the print order will be increased to 30.000 by early summer.
Two paperbacks also to be published by the Guild in the New Year will be "World Population and World Hunger". by Fr. A. McCormack, and a study of general economic questions by Dr. J. Jackson of Queen's College, Dundee.
The Catholic Missionary Society, which gave well over 100 missions throughout the country last year, is preparing for another year during which the eight priests will be "booked to capacity" in the words of Fr. Kevin O'Brien, the Society's Superior.
"We also run missions in places with few Catholics, to which nonCatholics are invited," Fr. O'Brien added. "At the normal missions, there is a great deal more interest by teenagers than was formerly the case. They come more often and ask intelligent questions."
Fr. Herbert Keldany, organiser of this year's Unity Octave which takes place from January 18-25, said that he hoped interest in the Octave would pick up after Christmas, when the parish priests had more time available.
Mr. Thomas Rittner, General Secretary of the Catholic Truth Society, which is printing the Unity prayer leaflet at f I per thousand, said that demand for the leaflet was slower this year than last but thought that this was probably due to the fact that the bishops had not yet issued their Ad Clerum message dealing with the campaign.
The C.T.S. generally. he said, was looking forward to another year of increased growth and membership. This year's net gain in members has been almost 1000, and he thought that the Society has sold more pamphlets than ever before.
At the Newman Association, Miss Rosemary Ellerbeck told me that the Newman would continue to have offices in Portman Square until the end of March. Negotiations for the new premises had not yet been completed.
Once the question of premises has been settled, a new drive for membership will be launched, especially in London, where Catholic graduates will be offered a full social and educational problem, including many week-end functions.
Modernisation taking place in the crypt of St. Patrick's Church, Soho, which will be occupied by the London group, will possibly be the subject of a pictorial and verbal study designed to help other Catholic societies who are trying to renovate premises.
Mr. R. F. Cunningham, Secretary of the Catholic Education Council. said that the Council would be moving into new premises in the New Year, which they would share with the Catechetical Centre. Important announcements about the new Catholic Teachers Training Colleges could be expected, and the membership of the Council was being broadened to give fuller representation to Catholic societies.
"In all," Mr. Cunningham added. "we are looking forward to another year of rapid growth. and more and better Catholic schools, providing more Catholic educational opportunities."