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Dreams and realities : some insights into the National Catholic Rural Movement


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Madden, Kathy 1994 , 'Dreams and realities : some insights into the National Catholic Rural Movement', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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"They _frightened me, old friend. All they want for a rural policy is a sheep, a goat, three acres -
and a migrant." So commented a former Governor General returning from a rural conference in
Albury, according to Alan Reid, a political journalist writing a newspaper story in October
1954. Who were the mysterious they? Forerunners of the communes of the sixties, perhaps the
cult movements of the seventies? Certainly it was a religious organisation, but one where most of
the members belonged to that oldest form of institutionalised Christianity - the Roman Catholic
Church. Co-operation was an esteemed principle, but the freedom "to do your own thing" was
not. The National Catholic Rural Movement (NCRM), as it was called, was an expression of
Catholic Action, a concept formulated in Rome, but which the Australian hierarchy was
struggling to establish in a country far removed from Europe. Yet, with a mixture of somewhat
naive romanticism and ironclad ideology, the NCRM had its own idealistic visions for Australia,
much as the poet McAuley was to write in 1956.
"Help of Christians guard this landfrom assault or inward stain.
Let it be what Christ has planned His Eden where you reign."
By 1950 the National Catholic Rural Movement had about 6000 members, 300 rural groups and
a periodical, "Rural Life" The NCRM, however, was never a truly 'grass roots' rural based
movement nor did any initiatives develop from the country branches. During the period of its
growth, post war reconstruction was a subject of wide interest and debate in Australia and there
was strong support for such concepts as decentralisation and land settlement which were central
to NCRM theories. Yet attempts to implement NCRM policies provoked suspicion and
antagonism because they ran counter to values deeply held in Australia at that time. With the
incoming tide of new technology and cultural changes in post-war Australia the assumptions
basic to the NCRM's vision crumbled as surely as sand castles on the beach.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Madden, Kathy
Keywords: National Catholic Rural Movement
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1994 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Library has additional copy on microfiche. Thesis (M.Hum.)--University of Tasmania, 1995. Includes bibliographical references

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