June 12 – YOUNG CATHOLIC STUDENTS AND CRUSADERS IN CANADA
YOUNG CATHOLIC STUDENTS AND CRUSADERS IN CANADA
The Ph. D. thesis which Br. Jean-Paul Desilets defended successfully at the faculty of psychology and education in Ottawa was concerned with changes in the structures of the movement Young Catholic students in Canada. He knew this subject from the inside, as he had witnessed it come into existence; he had been leader of local teams and been appointed permanent member of the diocesan committee.
The movement had come into existence thanks to a zealous young Brother, Br. Evariste (Zephir Bourassa) who had read all publications on the movement for young workers started by Fr. Cardijn in Belgium; he wanted to·apply the same principles (to see, to judge, to act) in schools. At St Gabriel’s School in Saint-Stanislas-de-Champlain he founded a movement, Young Catholic Students, which was to spread to all the schools in the Quebec district. Then he turned the Saint-Vincent-de-Paul youth club in Montreal into his headquarters; Br. Rembert-Marie (Romeo Gervais), joined him as federal deputy Director of the movement, and also. Br. Robert-Fran ois (Lucien Carpentier) as editor of the movement’s magazine.
The following was written by a young Brother to his Trappist Brother in the 1940’s: “I am sure you know that a movement started by the Holy Father himself is ‘all the rage’ in our secondary and primary schools; it is the Young Catholic Students movement whose motto is: ‘A new world for a new youth’. Well, dear Brother, do join us, we rely on you, help us to win to Christ as many souls as possible. Yes, it is the whole Province of Quebec that we must win to Christ our leader.”
In all the Gabrielite schools in Canada there were members of the movement that supplemented other existing Christian movements. The League of the Cadets of the Sacred Heart, which had been started in the 1920’s in the schools in Montreal and Saint Romuald, was superseded in 1930 by Vanguard for senior students, and the Eucharistic Crusade for younger students. The Eucharistic Crusade spread everywhere: 25% of the students in Montreal-East, and 50% in Saint-Martin and Ville-Marie were Crusaders. In the inter-war period, the Crusaders used to parade proudly behind their flag, wearing white berets, and white cloaks adorned with red crosses.