WHAT IS THE C.Y.M.S.?
By TERENCE McQUEEN
HUNDRED and thirteen years ago, a
saintly Irish priest, Dean Richard Baptist O'Brien, founded in his parish in Limerick a Society which aimed to foster "by mutual union and co-operation, and by priestly guidance, the spiritual, intellectual, social and physical welfare of its members".
Not more than two dozen men attended the first meeting, and they were mostly all labourers with claims to nothing more than an elementary education.
Yet within a year, the Society, named the Catholic Young Men's Society, had enlisted 2,000 members. It spread to England in 1854, establishing branches at Sheffield. Manchester. Liverpool, Bradford, Stockport and Oldham.
Today, its proud claim is that it is the oldest lay society for Catho
lie met, in Britain. How it has stood the test of time and faced up to challenges of the present day can be seen in even the briefest examination of its organisation and activities.
Training and information given through the CYMS is enabling many Catholic men to take an active part in Trade Unions and
Local Government, Earlier this year, a member of a CYMS District Council displaced a Communist in the Amalgamated Engineering Union elections. For many years, scholarships for the Catholic Workers' College, Oxford, have been awarded by the CYMS.
Countless numbers of CYMS branches undertake to sell the Catholic newspapers every week and distribute C.T.S. literature, thus helping in She vital task of creating a well-informed laity.
Pre-marriage training courses, meetings in prisons, parish youth clubs and libraries. are being sponsored by the society. Weekend schools for serious study are also being promoted up and down the country.
Several CYMS branches have "adopted" various parts of the
mission fields, supplying literature and raising funds for mission schools and churches.
The task of taking a census in the Leeds diocese was given to CYMS members by Bishop Dwyer last year. Work among the lapsed was assigned to members in the Liverpool archdiocese by Archbishop Heenan.
It was as a result of representa Fr. Denis Hickling, ChaplainGeneral of the CYMS, with Mr. L. J. McLaughlin, MA., of Glasgow, the immediate Past President of the society.
Last year, Fr. Hickling travelled
"The knowledge which we should seek should not be the merely academic knowledge of the lecturer — an agglomeration of facts and theories, but the practical knowledge which will goad our wills to act with energy. courage and perserverance, so as to transform our own lives and the lives pf those with whom we come into contact.
"The field of our apostolate is not pagan Britain in the abstract. It is the people of your own town or village". the manual tells CYMS members. "It is the people of your own parish, of your own nearly 50,000 miles on CYMS work. There are over 320 CYMS branches in Britain. The society's strongest areas are the Liverpool Archdiocese (90 branches) and Birmingham (66 branches).
clear, and strong resolutions to act.)
This year, "The Plan" concerns Unity. Bulletins to help its development and suggest how its principles can be put into action are being sent out at intervals by CYMS headquarters. These bulletins, printed in two colours in editions of 15.000, are crisply written and highly professional in appearance.
Consideration of "The Plan" is the main purpose of every CYMS branch meeting, The main object of that consideration is the acquisition or recollection of some Catholic ideas which will lead to effective action by each CYMS member.
Every activity in a branch has a "Promoter". For example, there is a promoter for the society's Daily Mass crusade, another for retreats, another for youth work. First-hand reports of what is being done in their area are sent by the promoters to CYMS headquarters in Liverpool.
Presidents of branches attend GYMS Diocesan Council meetings regularly, pooling ideas and exchanging details of action taken and anticipated on a parish basis. Members of the diocesan councils in turn relay the business of the meeting to the society's national executive. which devises the National Plan.
Each branch of the CYMS is under the jurisdiction of the parish priest, and is available for the sponsoring and development of a vigorous and healthy service in the parish, covering every form of religious, cultural, social and recreational activity.
The society's diocesan Councils arc each directly subordinate to a bishop. and the National Council to the whole Hierarchy. The intermediary between the CYMS and the Hierarchy, the link which hinds one to the other. is the branch chaplain.
Chaplains meet annually at Buxton to report on steps, taken and determine steps to he taken. This year's meeting (three days) begins on February 26.
While the principal duty of each chaplain is to attend to the spiritual formation of the branch members, as outlined in "The Plan" and contained in the society's perennial "promotions" of Daily Mass crusade, Rosary, retreats, spiritual reading, he also adapts "The Plan" to the resources of his branch, choosing possible speakers among his men, suggesting to each what to read and how to put together their short papers and how to deliver them to greatest advantage.
Thus at every meeting, the whole branch can be fired with enthusiasm and zeal to carry out "The Plan" by action, by influencing others, in their own parish, their own factory and profession, their own environment.
For men in areas without any branch, theCYMS has established a central branch. This seeks, by postal contact, from national headquarters. to give men who are unable to join a proper branch. some opportunity of carrying out the fundamental work of the society.
The CYMS Headquarters are at 152 Brownlow Hill, Liverpool 3.
MONKS FROM the Benedictine Abbey of St. Pierre de Solesmes have left Paris to open a monastery in K eur-Moussa. Senegal. at the request of Archbishop Lefebvre C.S.Sp., of Dakar.