"Social Action Notes for Priests"
One of the first things Father John M. Hayes did when he became a staff member at the Social Action Department (SAD) was initiate a monthly newsletter for clerics. The first issue appeared Dec. 1, 1940, and, according to the Detroit labor priest Father Clement Kern, succeeded admirably. Three years later, he wrote Hayes that it was "read avidly" in the Motor City and "used a great deal in the labor school." The style was "ideal for priests," he continued, "the more news items and names of priests in the field from anywhere make it all better it seems to me. Works like a bonfire under the stubborn mule." By June 1944, there were 700 priests on its mailing list; in its next six months, perhaps fueled by the debate about Communist influence in the CIO's Political Action Committee, the number of subscribers increased to more than 1,100. In July 1946, there were 1,800. Hayes' voluminous and nationwide correspondence with labor priests is reflected in the first two Social Action Notes reproduced here. He not only provides concrete information about the labor schools that were being conducted throughout the country, but also an analysis of their successes and failures. The information reported in the third newsletter resulted from the questionnaires that Hayes sent to his contacts throughout the country
As you read this document, reflect on the following questions:
1. How did Hayes account for what he considered to be the small number of Catholic men who attended the labor schools?
2. Was Hayes upset by these low numbers?
3. What form of labor priest activity did Hayes consider most fruitful?
4. What impact did U.S. culture have on the schools’ students?
5. Are there similar ideas here as were expressed in “Priests and Reconstruction”?