In this next example two Australian YCW leaders took on the work of extending the YCW into a new parish. They explain how they did this.
“The YCW Diocesan Team wanted to get a group going in a parish where there were a lot of young workers and many unemployed young workers. We were asked to take on this responsibility and this is how we did it.
The study stage
We drafted a letter and sent it to the priests of the parish. The letter said:
Our names are Jim and Helen. The YCW Diocesan Team has asked me to approach you with the idea of starting a YCW group in your parish. As you know the YCW is a movement that aims to form and support young workers in their lives as young Christian workers.
We will telephone you next week to organise an appointment with you and the other priests of the parish to discuss the idea. The things we want to discuss are:
• Why we are doing this. What the YCW means to us.
• How we would start the group – and what assistance we would need.
• What ice would be prepared to do over the first four to six months of meeting and the role of the chaplain in this.
• The support we are prepared to give the group after this time.
Signed Jim and Helen.
A week later we rang the parish and asked for an appointment. The parish priest seemed a little bit unsure but he agreed to see us.
We found the two priests and the parish sister waiting for us. We sat down and started to talk about the YCW. Helen was great in telling what the YCW had done for her and I could see that she impressed them with that. They asked a lot of questions and I could see that time was running out, so I asked them what they thought about having a YCW in the parish.
The parish priest started to talk about all the things presently planned in the parish. He said we should wait for six to nine months. I told him that we might not be available ourselves then and so we began to talk about what starting the YCW would demand of the parish staff.
We told them that we would need a place to meet and the names and addresses of young workers in the parish. These names could be got by getting a list of school leavers in the past three years from the secondary schools.
We said that we would do the visiting and get the group started and that we would attend all meetings for at least six months. It was agreed that the assistant priest would get us the list of names.
Well we finally got that list of names after a number of reminder phone calls to the parish. So, one Sunday afternoon, Helen and I went down to the parish house with the list of names and a road map. We looked up each address in the map and wrote down the coordinates (e.g. Map 21, M6) alongside each address.
Then we rewrote that names and addresses putting the people in groups – we put all the Map 21, M6 together and put Map 21, M5’s next to them. This would make the work of visiting easier.
The Parish Priest came in as we were finishing. He looked at our names and told us some that he knew were at university, and some he knew who had left the parish – so we crossed all these off our list. He told us some he believed would be good leaders – and we put a tick next to them.
On Wednesday night that week I went around to the parish house with a written notice and I asked the Parish Priest if he would put it in the parish bulletin. The notice said.
PLEASE NOTE: Efforts are being made to start a YCW in the parish. Over the next few weeks young workers of the parish will he visited by members of the YCW You are asked to make them welcome.
On Saturday night, Helen and I decided to go to Mass in that parish to see how many young people were there. The parish priest saw us. He not only read out our notice, but he also asked us to stand up and introduced us to the people
After Mass quite a few adults came up and told us how they used to be in the YCW and wished us well. We thought this was good and so we decided to go to the main Mass next day where we went through it all again.
The contact stage
Well we went out a couple of nights that week with little success. Then we went out Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon and had two good days. We had about 20 who said they were interested in coming.
I must say something about the work of visitation. Helen and I had decided that we had four clear aims in visiting each person. Our aims were
• To make a friend of the person – most important.
• To inform them that a YCW was going to be started in the parish.
• To tell them a bit about what the YCW is like.
• To motivate them to come at least for the Information Meeting.
On Thursday night after work I went around to the parish house with a copy of our invitation typed on paper with the YCW letterhead. I asked the Parish Priest if we could use the photocopier to make up 25 copies. Well he read the invitation and copied them for me – then he gave me envelopes and stamps to send them as well.
The invitation said.
YOU ARE INVITED TO A GET TOGETHER OF YOUNG PEOPLE OF ST MARY’S PARISH NEXT MONDAY 18 AUGUST AT 7.30 PM AT THE PARISH HALL
The YCW has a number of groups meeting in this area. Some people have expressed interest in getting a group going also in St Mary’s Parish.
The purpose of Monday’s meeting is to bring together a number of young workers to talk about how this could be achieved.
So this invitation is to ask you to come along and see who these people are, find out what the YCW is about, and decide if you would be interested in joining them.
The YCW is a Christian movement of young workers and unemployed people, run by themselves, and concerned about the issues these people face in their ordinary everyday lives. It offers the friendship of a local community of young people, plus the opportunity of friendship and involvement with groups all round our city, our country and indeed the world.
So, take this opportunity to come along and have a look. It costs nothing to have a look and there is no obligation.
Signed Jim and Helen
The introductory meeting
On Monday night 18th August, Helen and I got to the parish hall early. We had brought tea, coffee, milk, sugar and some biscuits. We got the urn going and boiled water. We turned on all the lights and started the tape recorder going with some good music and plenty of volume. One of the priests came in to wish us well and said that he would try to call back before the end of the meeting.
At 7.30pm there were only four people there with a couple standing around outside. So, we gave them all a cup of coffee and introduced them to one another. By 8.15pm there were 11 of us counting Helen and me – so we got started.
Yes, it was a lot of work and not always easy, but I really enjoyed it. I get a lot of satisfaction in thinking about that group, and in meeting their leaders now and hearing about what they are doing. I learned a lot also. It was great working with Mary. I think it was she who really won over the priests in the beginning. They really respected us.
I think it was because we had an organised plan and because we were committed and ready to work hard. Neither of them became really involved with the group but they were always ready to defend us and to help us when we needed things. This really helped the group.