Continuing the Paulian Vision

On Saturday October 18th, 2008, we will celebrate a Golden Jubilee.* We will pay tribute to the many inspiring and dedicated individuals who have devoted themselves to the work of the Paulian Association and Palms Australia. We will celebrate the ongoing efforts that strengthen the noble vision of Roy Boylan.

Roy’s vision is most fully explained in the booklet “Paulian Association: First 25 Years”, written by Sr Anne Ihlein and Barry Morris. Perhaps the best way of understanding the essence of this vision is by looking to the preface of the booklet, which was written by Fr. Cyril Hally (Boylan’s advisor, friend and, to this day, a deeply valued supporter of Palms Australia). Cyril alludes to a striking and character-defining incident in the early part of Boylan’s life when as a soldier during WWII, and whilst fighting in Crete, he was captured and spent the next three and a half years in a Bavarian prison camp.

This was undoubtedly a traumatic period of Boylan’s life; but, according to Hally, his response was, very strikingly, both enlightened and liberating:
“Roy returned to Australia not only with a respect, but even with an affection, for his German captors. He was able to penetrate the linguistic, cultural, social and military barriers to reach the common humanity shared with his captors.” (Pg 3)
In other words, by truly making the effort to recognise his captors as people who shared the universal need for understanding, acceptance and care, Roy was able to get past the more superficial divisions that had been the main cause of the conflict.

This attitude helped to sow the seeds of both the Paulians and, soon after, Palms. It helped Roy to recognise that getting past divisions, and using our different gifts to achieve true community was, as St Paul had recognised, the true call of Christianity. It was a call that appealed strongly to lay people at that time and continues to drive the organisation today.

Inspired by Hally to study Cardinal Cardijn and the YCW (Young Christian Workers) movement in Belgium, Boylan established the Paulians who provided many forms of community support in branches throughout Sydney and programmes around Australia. Throughout the 1950s and 60s, the Paulians gained in numbers, strength and effectiveness. Their most prominent areas of concern included: social justice (in particular, Aboriginal Affairs), supporting solo parents, refugees and youth, and promoting ecumenism.

Getting people involved in sharing their skills to reduce poverty in global communities by becoming volunteers was a significant priority for Boylan and became the enduring programme of the organisation. Today, through the volunteers and supporters of Palms Australia, Roy Boylan’s vision of people working towards the building of community and mutual understanding has been extended to positively influence the lives of many people throughout the world. In his report on page two, our Executive Director, Roger O’Halloran explores Palms’ mission, in which we see the significant legacy of Roy Boylan’s influence.

It is a sincere hope that all join together in October as we pay tribute to the work of Roy as well as to all the other individuals involved in the formation and development of what we know today as Palms Australia.

* Paulian Association: First 25 Years has the Paulian Association being first established in 1956, however, when discussing a celebration for that year, Mary Gilchrist (who was either secretary, volunteer or Director 195?-1999) suggested it was not formally constituted until 1958. This, and the fact that Palms was moving offices and setting up the Fair Trade Coffee Company in 2006, is the main reason why we are celebrating the Jubilee in 2008.