WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

‘SEE, JUDGE, ACT’

WelCom September 2019:

Training Catholic Activists in New Zealand 1937–1983

Wellington author Rod Orange outlines his forthcoming book about Catholic Activists in New Zealand, which will be launched by Cardinal John Dew in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart foyer, Friday 4 October.

‘SEE, JUDGE, ACT’ refers to a method often advocated when making decisions. But what did the phrase originally mean? Was it a way of problem solving, that is, a management technique? Well it was this, but it was much more.

Older readers may remember how familiar the phrase was to Catholics of the 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70s. It referred to the study or enquiry method of the Catholic Youth Movement (CYM), the Young Christian Students (YCS), the Christian Family Movement (CFM) and the Young Christian Workers (YCW). These organisations together comprised a movement that formed its members spiritually, and trained them to be activists for what the Pope called ‘the reconstruction of the social order’.

SEE, JUDGE, ACT tells the story of these organisations: their origin, operation, development, and eventual decline. It shows how their Faith understanding and practice anticipated by more than a decade the teachings of the Vatican Council. They produced hundreds who became effective leaders for change in their social environments at whatever level: neighbourhood, work, education, social and community welfare, local and national government – many of whom will be known to readers. The book considers whether this training and experience should be made available again in addressing today’s secular world. And its beleaguered Church.

This is History as experienced by the participants, the lay people. It is based on evidence from Church records, former church newspapers Zealandia and NZ Tablet, and surveys and interviews of many former members. ‘We were shown how to be both fully Christian and fully lay person,’ one recalled.

SEE, JUDGE, ACT discusses the nature of a spirituality specific for lay people; and their role in the church. And it offers radical suggestions for the future.

SEE, JUDGE, ACT: Training Catholic Activists in New Zealand, 1937-1983, by Rod Orange, is published by Steele Roberts Aotearoa. It will be in bookshops after the launch. Rod Orange, former principal of St Dominic’s College Henderson, is a member of Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish, along with his wife Claudia.