The Year 1955: The Complacent 50s

Now it’s 1955 in the Complacent Fifties. Many Canadians are enjoying relative prosperity after the economic depression and wartime shortages of the two previous decades. Louis St. Laurent is Canadian prime minister. Elizabeth II has been queen for three years. Mao Tse-tung’s Peoples’ Republic of China is in its sixth year.

By 1954 the last Scarboro priests and Grey Sisters were exiled home from their Chinese missions. In 1955 more than 100 Scarboro priests are serving in six other nations of Asia, Latin America and the West Indies. China magazine was renamed Scarboro Missions in April 1950 in recognition of this widening apostolate to other lands. Fr. Stringer is editor in 1955 and a subscription still costs $1 annually.

The contents of 1955 issues and those a decade earlier are similar in many respects; understandably so, given the similar hazards and reversals the Society experienced in China in the 1940s and 1950s. In both decades Scarboro editors were preoccupied with these traumatic developments and ideological dangers they feared closer at hand. A sampling of the magazine’s advocacy:

  • “Wake Up Canada!” “This month we present for the serious consideration of our readers the revealing story of Fr. Arthur Venedam, S.F.M., who was expelled recently from China after spending two years in Red jails… Here is a graphic and gripping preview of what all of us can expect from Communism wherever it gains mastery.”
  • Fr. Venedam’s account, entitled “Away With Him!” concluded: “The miserable leaders of the West who connived at China’s undoing will one day go down in ignominy and despair for their share in handing over these millions of peaceful peasants into the hands of the new Imperialists, misnamed Communists.”
  • In a piece headlined “Through Pain To Paradise”, Fr. Pat Moore told of his “labour of love” in leading the Fatima statue pilgrimage across Canada and beyond. The Diocese of Victoria was one stopping-place on his tour.
  • “Her Plan For Peace”, Fr. Stringer’s book-length interpretation of the Marian messages revealed at Fatima, was promoted and favourably reviewed. Monsignor McGrath added his endorsement in the monthly column, “From the Crow’s Nest”.
  • The death of Monsignor McRae, first superior general, received extensive coverage. Fr. Chafe wrote: “It is noteworthy that right to the day of his death he had a young man’s enthusiasm for life around him… Anything that interested a student was also of interest to this old and lately blind monsignor.”
  • An eight-page photo feature introduced Japanese women to Scarboro readers. “Women in Japanese society still lack the degree of freedom had by their sisters in the West,” the text stated. “Nevertheless, Japanese women, with their untiring selflessness, exquisite modesty, keen intelligence, patience, courage and heroism, are considered among the finest in the world.”
  • A Scarboro seminarian, John Benoit, gave readers “a look at what goes on behind seminary walls,” including photos of seminarians at work, prayer and play. One observation: “Definite periods of manual labour, out-of-doors and indoors, are on the program for our students. Everyone is trained to use a hammer and saw, a pick, shovel, compass, square and level; thus a future Scarboro missioner is well prepared for any emergency.”
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