By Fr Charles, National YCS/YSM Chaplain


Miss Betty King!!!. A name we have heard many a time.

Yes. She came to India in 1950s and spread YCW and YCS movement in India, especially in Chennai and Bangalore. I had mentioned about this person to the members of YCS/YSM India while introducing history of YCS/YSM of India. I never dreamt of meeting her one day rather thought she was just a history. But this time when I visited Melbourne, Australia on the invitation of Fr. Prakash Cutinha, I came to know about her and was thrilled to meet her. She is helping Fr. Prakash in all his parish activities. Almost every day I met her and one day she drove me to the YCS Chaplain of Melbourne Fr. Michael and helped me meet some members of YCS Melbourne about which I have a detail report in the latter pages. She is just 83 years young and still doing a marvelous job at the parish. Almost all the people in the vicinity know her well. Here is an excerpt of our meeting for you.



An Interview with Betty King of Australia

Introduction: Ms Betty King is from Australia who visited India in 1957 to spread the YCW Movement and also was instrumental in starting YCS movement in some schools. She worked in India till 1960 and did a marvelous work at an early age and she is graded as one of the pioneer of this movement in India.

Q 1 : You had been to India at a young age, what prompted you to come to India?

It was simple. I was not very young at that time. I was 30 years of age. When I was participating in a YCW programme in Malaysia Fr. Thomas Joseph put forward a request for an extension worker for YCW in India who is able to speak English. I had no plans but could go since I was able to speak in English. I spoke to my Australian Chaplain Fr. Tim and showed my willingness to go to India. He worked for me to have a work in India to sustain myself and also work for the movement.  Indian movement was not able to support me; hence I wanted a work to sustain myself.

When I landed in India as an YCW representative to work as office secretary, Fr. Thomas Joseph arranged for me a job in British Council of Education department in cooperation with Tamilnadu government. My job was to teach English language as a campaign for all Tamil medium teaching teachers and teach them English in modern ways. I worked with Don Smith for two years. My working hours were from 7am to 1pm and then as YCW extension worker.

Nuns at the Presentation Convent who run a school for girls showed interest in YCS and it prompted me to start YCS there. They liked the methodology of the movement See, Judge and Act and the heads of the school supported me. The Parish Priest was the spiritual director.

Q 2 : What was the scenario of YCS Australia when you visited India?
I was a member of YCW in Australia then. We had some guidelines and we wrote some books about it. YCS existed in Australia at that time but it was only for girls. I was also a member of YCS in my school days. It was working very well.





Q 3 : What was the response of Indian students when you introduced YCS in India?
It was excellent. They adapted the methodology well as their way of life. They were called the apostles of peer groups. In India the response was very positive. At the same time I found the response of the students was negative in Australia. In India helping poor people, visiting mercy homes, respecting every human beings, etc were the deeds we were doing. I worked 2 years in Madras and 1 year in Bangalore. I talked to Good Shepherd Convent sisters but the response was rather negative. YCW did well and grew stronger in India.

Q 4 : What is the situation of YCS Australia now?
It was a huge movement. All the priests were helping and were interested in it. Rector of the Seminary was willing to send the seminarians for this work. It was very effective with the teenagers then. Today I feel it is very small with few groups. I don’t know what has gone wrong.

Comparing YCS with YCW I feel YCS is better accepted. YCW is something like imposing a few things on the members but YCS is accepting oneself as a real human being. But the only problem in YCS is students come and go as members for a short time. So continuation is difficult. Today we may not have any school units but we do have some parish units in Australia.

Q 5 : Do you think YCS can help the students even today? If so what way?
Yes, of course. It can do well with the university students too. Don’t mind the names whether YCS or XYZ. I would give preference to university students who really need it today. I think there is nothing other than YCS for our students and teenagers. It is not how prayerful they are but how they value persons.

Q 6 : Do you still recommend YCS for Australian students/teenagers? If so how do you think we can address them now?
YES. But I don’t know how to respond to them now. I am too old to comment on this. They should be happy with YCS. It can be done and should be done. I feel sad to see the state now. They were called bachelors or losers at that time. Today it needs to be done but it is not well accepted in some places.

Q 7 : What is the link between YCS movement and you today in general?
Very little. There are a few groups of YCW even today but I differ in the way they are functioning today. There are two groups of YCW now in Melbourne. They have a separate identity. I feel it is better in Adelaide.

YCS in parishes is going on well with a few groups. But it is not functioning in Schools anymore here. It is for the age group of 16 to 20. I know Mr. Devett Obrien from Brisbane, who has become the IYCS Secretary General. He is a good person and I wish him well.

Q 8 : How did YCS help you to mould your life or to become what you are today?
The concern for the other is the basic thing which helped me to mould my life and made me what I am today. I was interested in Gospel discussion and I applied it to my life using the YCS methodology. Jesus was better known to me than God. Maria Maasim from Belgium who was instrumental in teaching me Cardijn’s thought of life. The education and respect for persons and continue to see that good in others influenced me more. I could also speak to Jesuit seminarians at that time which was a rare thing at that time. The Rector of the seminary was very helpful to me.

Q 9 : What is your feeling when you see the seed sown by you in India 1957 which has grown so big today?
I feel very happy and specially coming to know you have made me very glad. I am happy at the growth of the movement in India. It is not the number but the reach out to the needy students is the basic thing. Stick on to the YCS methodology which will change anyone who encounters this movement.

The credit goes to all the nuns (Sisters) who supported this movement in their institutions and who supported me when I was in India. The social work, girls working at the university and the importance of value of life helped me to work for this movement. I remember Mother Basil who was a great support.

I remember many people at Nungambakam, Porur and Bangalore even today. I wanted to go back but could not. Burnie married Philomena and they had contact with me as Indians. Now I don’t have any contact. It was nice knowing you and rejuvenating the old memories. I had good memories of Madras car drivers who were very good to me. They used to say “Car is made for us and we are not for Cars” when I commented on their way of keeping it not so clean.

Q 10 : What is your message for YCS/YSM India?
Appreciate the value in everyone. It is like the relationship between mother and daughter. It is like the love of God to us. God is same for me and you. Do that always.

But I am sad for Australia. People are walking away from Church and God. They are changing life for bad. There is no community feeling here. We need it very much today. Keep it up in India. 

Q 11 : Tell us about your family?
Oswald Edward and Mary Elizabeth are my parents. We are 4 children and I am the 4th one. I was born on 3rd Sept 1930. I studied in St. Joseph’s till grade 8th and 2 years commercial studies in Santa Maria College.  I had no time to get married. I worked with students and YCW all my life. I still live in the same old house built in 1922.

My father was a kind man. I have a fond memory of my father sharing his meal with another person of other origin. It was politically incorrect but was a good idea for exchanging ones value for the human being with the other which I learnt from my father.

Q 12 : Would you like to visit India again and what would you like to see?
I would like to see in India the community feeling which the basic thing I experienced in India is. It should reach to all the corner of India and that is my dream and I would be happy to visit India again.




Conclusion: I thanked Ms Betty King for doing what she had done for us.  We are reaping the fruits of her hard labour. I invited her for our next National Council to be held in Shillong in 2013 and hope to see her again if God wills. It was a memorable moment of my life as the National  Chaplain to meet the one who sowed the seed of YCS in India.


Comments powered by CComment

Home | News | Sitemap | Contact Us

Copyright © 2011 - www.ycsysmindia.com . Powered by eCreators

Contact Us

YCS/YSM National Office,
Archdiocesan Pastoral Centre,
25 Rosary Church Road, Santhome,
Chennai - 600004, Tamilnadu
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phone: (+91) 9891792505