|Meta and Brian O’Halloran (Courtesy Tony Robertson)
Former Brisbane YCW leader, Brian O’Halloran died on 23 January 2020 at the age of 87.
Born in 1932, Brian became a key leader in the Brisbane YCW and gave a memorable talk to the Australian YCW National Council in Melbourne in 1952.
“On entering into work a lad experienced a crisis because he was starting off in a completely new way of life,” Brian told the Council.
“The common attitude to work was wrong: rather than realizing that God meant young workers to be developed physically, spiritually and religiously through work, most considered that it was just something you have to do if you want to eat,” he continued in words that are still relevant today.
He also pointed out that “to some extent the schools were failing in so much as many lads left school without the knowledge that work was a vocation.”
“Further, school-leavers did not know what constituted a particular job other than by its title. As a result they had no idea to what type of job they were best suited,” he warned.
“God made every Young Worker with a Divine Destiny,” he continued, echoing the words of YCW founder, Joseph Cardijn.
“Even though we are affected by Original Sin, we are still meant to go to heaven through the world and not in spite of it. While the world is not serving the Young Worker there is a problem. The Young Worker today cries out for a chance to live. The Y.C.W. must answer this call by building a new social order.
“As Canon Cardijn said: ‘We have not come to start a Revolution, we ARE the revolution.'” he concluded.
Brian later married Meta, a Brisbane NCGM leader at the time, and together they had seven children. Brian and Meta’s son, John, also later became a fulltime worker for the Brisbane YCW from 1981-83 and a member of the Australian YCW National Team.
“I will always remember the welcome I received from both Brian and Meta when I moved to Brisbane to work with John in 1981,” commented former Australian YCW president, Stefan Gigacz.
John O’Halloran also noted that his father remained marked for life by his YCW experience.
Indeed, continuing his social commitment, in 1985 Brian became involved with the Brisbane Archdiocesan Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, later becoming its first executive officer.
“Brian was a learned, passionate and tireless worker for justice,” commented current executive officer, Peter Ipswitch, on Facebook. “Indeed, his whole life was devoted to working for justice. His was a
life well lived and we are very grateful to have benefited from his
In a meaningful coincidence, Brian passed into eternal life on the 75th anniversary of the death of Belgian YCW lay co-founder, Paul Garcet, who perished in the Dachau Concentration Camp on 23 January 1945 just a week ahead of his comrade in arms, Fernand Tonnet.
The Advocate, 14 October 1954