Pastoral Letter from his Eminence
Patrick Cardinal Hayes
December 27, 1936
Feast of the Infant Savior, 1936.
Reverend Dear Father:
In January of this present year I announced the establishment of the Catholic Youth Association as our diocesan agency for the provision of a constructive use of leisure time for our young people. I now most earnestly desire that there be established in every parish of our diocese a permanent active organization for youth.
Youth is the hope of the world. Upon youth the future must be builded. Today in many nations youth, as never before, is being organized, regimented and zealously trained, not always in honest fashion nor always for holy ends. The world realizes that any investment in the care and training of the young pays surer, higher and wider dividends than any other work on earth. Apostles of discontent, growing daily more numerous and aggressive, openly avow their purpose of stealing our young and training them to anarchy and theism. They offer much to youth, so much as to deceive, if possible, even the elect. Their zeal is a challenge to us. We cannot sit back and leave the field to them. We must care for and protect our own. We must be watchful shepherds.
Religious and farseeing parents have through the years committed their children to our training and care. It is their glory that the greatest achievement of the Catholic Church in New York is our school system. More than 114,800 pupils are now enrolled therein. We rejoice that to so many of our children a proper religious training in thus assured. All Catholic children – those in public as well as those in Catholic Schools – are our charges, yours and mine. Others also there are, and they are many who, leaving our parochial schools at a tender age, lack that intimate and strengthening influence of the things of our Faith so necessary to the practice of their religion. These, too, are our charges. To provide for them a constructive use of their leisure time, to keep alive in their hearts teachings of our Faith, to keep them close to Our Holy Mother Church, and build upon them the future of our Faith, we most earnestly desire the enthusiastic cooperation of our people in the activities and program of our Catholic Youth Organization. Our Lord, Himself has said: “Whosoever shall receive one such child as this in My name, receiveth Me”. *
And St. Hilary, in his Commentary on the Gospel of St. Matthew, points out correctly, “What can be more fraught with danger for the world than the rejection of Christ?”*
It is our fervent hope that all Catholic children know their Church and their parish priests more intimately. To attain this end it will be necessary to organize leisure time activities which will attract and hold our young people. This task cannot be accomplished by our priests alone. The men and women of the parish, must lend assistance.
Enthusiastic parochial participations is the very foundation of the Catholic Youth Organization. I call upon you, therefore, to organize a permanent unit of the Catholic Youth Organization in your parish under your general supervision and directed by the priest designated by you. Herein is presented a splendid opportunity to serve God and country. This is a great undertaking and one that will pay an hundredfold in Divine blessings.
The establishment of a successful C.Y.O. unit in each parish, together with the magnificent work of our Catholic School system, will bring about a gratifying gain in the number of young people frequenting the Sacraments. There will be a substantial decrease in the number of those who, unfortunately, become careless in the practice of their Faith. That great doctor of the Church, St. Thomas, emphasized this point when he wrote: “Nature intends not merely the generation of the offspring but also its development and advance to the perfection of man considered as man that is, to the state of virtue.:**
Confident that you will zealously cooperate with the Catholic Youth Organization by following the plans that will be recommended to you, and especially by enlisting the service of your assistant priests, I am, with a blessing.
Fraternally yours in Christ,
Patrick Cardinal Hayes
Archbishop of New York