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5 Saints who grew in holiness through Catholic Action

Pope Francis audience with the Italian Catholic Action Association (Azione Cattolica) in St.Peter's Square at the Vatican on April 25, 2024

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Philip Kosloski - published on 04/09/24

In the early 20th century, many saints were spiritually fed by the formation received from Catholic Action, which was popular throughout Europe.

In reading the lives of many European saints from the 20th century, one common thread that unites several of them is the organization called Catholic Action.

Bishop Robert Barron describes it in an article published on Aleteia.

Pope Francis just met some 50,000 members of Italian Catholic Action in St Peter’s Square on Thursday, April 25, as they gathered for a meeting between parents, grandparents, and children. (Photo above is from this meeting; more below.)

In accord with the framework proposed by Belgian Cardinal Joseph Cardijn, the founder of Catholic Action, priests would meet with relatively small groups of parishioners who shared a common interest or vocation — say, physicians, or lawyers, or financiers, or business leaders.

The spiritual leader would interpret Scripture or lay out some relevant teaching of the Church and then invite his interlocutors to “see, judge, and act.” That is to say, he would encourage them to be attentive to the area of their professional interest, then to judge the situations they typically face in light of the Gospel and Church teaching, and finally to resolve to act on the basis of those judgments.

When it was functioning at its best, Catholic Action involved priests and laity, each operating in their proper spheres and working together for the transformation of the world.

Here is a list of five saints who grew in their faith while being involved in Catholic Action.

St. Gianna Beretta Molla

According to the website Catholics in Action, “While working in the field of medicine –which she considered a ‘mission’ and practiced as such — she increased her generous service to Catholic Action, especially among the ‘very young.'”

St. Richard Pampuri

St. Richard: “Since his boyhood he was involved in Catholic Action so when he arrived at Morimondo to practice medicine, he gave valuable assistance to the parish priest and helped him to set up a musical band and a Catholic Action Youth Club of which he was the first president.”

St. Alberto Hurtado

A priest from Chile, St. Alberto, “was asked to assume the role of Assistant for the Youth Movement of the Catholic Action, first within the Archdiocese of Santiago and then nationally. He performed these roles with an exceptional spirit of initiative, dedication and sacrifice.”

Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati

Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati “joined the Catholic Student Foundation and the organization known as Catholic Action. He became a very active member of the People’s Party, which promoted the Catholic Church’s social teaching based on the principles of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical letter, Rerum Novarum.”

Venerable Antonietta Meo

While still a child, Antonietta Meo was officially registered as a member of Catholic Action. She attended meetings and had the newspaper read to her.

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