What a weekend.
We do not celebrate or remember many national, let alone international, centenary events in our lifetime. The events associated with the ‘war to end all wars’ has preoccupied many Australians for the past four years. For some, a chance to finally say “goodbye” to dead, known and missing. The pilgrimage to the war cemetery was always to be done…and that has been done. For others, to visit and ponder the absolute madness that changed the world and changed the involvement of the civilian population; all became combatants with the consequent horrifying loss of life and staggering numbers of refugees in the past 100 years. More and more we need the power of the Prophet Elijah to turn our “handful of meal” and “little oil in a jug” to feed the survivors!
In the midst of the destruction, two significant Priests were discovering what the Spirit was calling them to be and to do with their lives. Out of many experiences before World War Two began, both men aided by and accompanying wonderful baptised lay people, began significant movements in our Church that last to the present day. Joseph Cardijn from Belgium breathed life into youth and, behold, the YCW. His next-door neighbour was taken up by the Spirit of the YCW in his time as a branch Chaplain, and when approached to teach two young couples about the wonderment and sanctity of marriage basically said “I don’t know, but let us journey together.” They did, and the movement called in Australia ‘Teams- a Movement for Married people’ was born. His name was Henri Cafferel.
Both men remind me of the widow. They went to the Temple with basically empty pockets. The peace conference at Versailles fundamentally led by the rich and famous, set the conditions for WWII. The millions upon millions of dollars spent on arms since, has produced war after war, destruction and debris, broken nations, broken families and broken people. Bourke St Melbourne is yet a local testimony to the effects of war.
Cardijn and Caffarel left legacies of worldwide significance. The YCW is still found on all continents and is making a steady comeback in Australia. Teams recently held their six-yearly gathering in Fatima with nearly 9000 delegates from 80 countries.
As we pause and reflect on the sacrifice made in WWI and say thanks for all those who contributed, let’s also remember those who worked at a different level and whose contribution to our world still lives on.
Lest we forget!