The Year 1965: The Turbulent 60s

The year is 1965 in the Turbulent Sixties – a decade of both creative and destructive changes. In China, Mao’s Red Guards spearhead a violent ‘counter revolution’. In North America and Western Europe the ‘sexual revolution’ and ‘Beatle mania’ are two among many significant signs of changing times. In Canada, Prime Minister Mike Pearson’s minority Liberal government, with New Democratic support, introduces national Medicare. In Rome, Pope Paul VI presides at the final session of the Second Vatican Council where over 2,000 bishops are initiating a far-reaching renewal of Catholicism. Just before the Council was to open in September 1962, Scarboro’s founding father, Monsignor Fraser, had died in Osaka, Japan, 60 years after his first mission journey to the Orient.

Still costing only $1 a year, Scarboro Missions is edited by Harold Oxley.

The social upheavals of the 1960s and especially Vatican II had a lasting impact on the monthly magazine. In 1965 and succeeding years, readers witnessed an accelerating transformation in the periodical. Compared to what subscribers had read in previous years, the editorial emphasis, much of the content and eventually the overall appearance changed dramatically.

A January editorial, titled “Thinking Of You”, signaled the changes underway and still to come: “You unsuspecting lay folk may not know it, but we priests have been thinking a lot about you lately. We feel that you might bring some original approaches to the work we have been trying to do for years… And it’s not just coincidence that we are all thinking this way; we’ve been told to – especially by Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI.”

Mission experiences far beyond Canada still received priority attention. Instances: Fr. Tim Ryan described the maiden voyage of the Santa Teresena, Scarboro’s 40-foot houseboat on Brazil’s Amazon River. From Japan, Fr. Thomas O’Toole reported that Western customs had become so common they were no longer considered novelties. Fr. John Bolger described a coal miners’ retreat at Kaize, Japan. Fr. Vincent Daniel wrote about the training of lay catechists in the Brazilian jungle. Editor Oxley found time to compose several articles on Scarboro mission efforts in British Guyana.

In shock and sadness, Scarboro members and magazine readers learned that Fr. Arthur MacKinnon had been murdered June 22 in the Dominican Republic. ” A Martyr For Social Justice” by Fr. Paul Ouellette, Scarboro’s regional superior in that Latin American republic, introduced a detailed account of the tragedy. An excerpt: “Fr. Art truly sympathized with the aims of the revolution in the Dominican Republic – although not with the Communist elements involved in it. He recognized, as all of us do, the many social injustices, which have existed so long in the country, and he saw the urgent need to correct these abuses… Since Fr. Art was very outspoken, the police and army in Monte Plata had listed him as a ‘rebel’ and even as a Communist. (The police still do not make any distinction between ‘rebel’ and ‘Communist’, but the fact is that most rebels are not Communist.)” Issues of social justice and peace were a recurring theme in editorials that year. Examples:

  • “Christ sanctified poverty of spirit, not the poverty that degrades… Having been so blessed by God, what right have we (Canadians) to be relieved of guilt we have brought on ourselves by our refusal to share our good fortune with others? May God have mercy on us. And may the poor of the world also have mercy when they sit in judgement on us.”
  • “A missionary lives and works in a world of real people and real problems. And he must bring the personal interest of Christ to all of these problems even when they seem unrelated to the work of conversion.”
  • “If our work is really to advance, priests must do much more than beef up the manpower statistics wherever they are sent… One thing we hope from them is that they will take some original thinking to the problems of their missions… Each generation must make its own contribution to the solution of our problems.”

Besides the monthly editorial, other regular features (departments) in 1965 included I Remember, one-page accounts of vivid experiences by Scarboro members; Come Follow Me, reflections by Fr. George Courtright, vocation director; short items of Mission News, and Scarboro’s Junior Missionaries, now reduced to one page.

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