Catholic Lay Mission Corps collection
- Creation: 1954 - 1976
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In 1958, St. Joseph's School in Killeen, Texas, needed teachers. Father Francis Weber, C.S.C., the pastor, wrote the various teaching orders of Sisters both in the U.S. and abroad, but none were able to assist. Together with his assistant, Father Fred Underwood, C.S.C., Fr. Weber then conceived the idea that if the great needs were made known to apostolic Catholics possibly, they would be willing to give a year or more for Christ, just as soldiers for their country and as Mormons do for the spread of their faith. The priests received a positive response, and the number of lay volunteers increased every year.
In 1959, Fr. Underwood formed the Volunteer Teachers’ Mission Service (VTMS). He was assisted by Father Joseph Haley, C.S.C. of Notre Dame, one of the most knowledgeable priests of the lay apostolate, particularly secular institutes. Also, for a short period, there was a collaboration between VTMS and the Institute of the Word, founded by Agnes Mahon of South Bend.
In 1961, VTMS’ name was shorted to the Volunteer Teachers’ Service (VTS) and in 1962, the name was changed to Catholic Lay Mission Corps (CLMC). This change of name coincided with an announced broadening of the organization’s purpose – from teaching in Catholic schools along to other forms of the apostolate. Though these other forms were concerned with specialized fields in education, such as catechetics, or related in some way to education – such as social work. Thus, school nurses, craftsmen, social workers, and other professions were invited to utilize their talents for the CLMC.
The program was not unique to serving Texas and as early as 1959, one of the VTMS members moved to Santiago, Chile. In 1960, another member was sent to Alaska and several others to South Carolina. In 1961, three more schools in central Texas were partially or wholly staffed by VTS in Dallas and in Austin. In 1962, two members of VTS opened the Panama project at the invitation of Bishop Mark McGrath, C.S.C. of Panama. The same year, 1962, saw the closing of the schools in Dallas and a CLMC move toward working in San Antonio. To solidify the base of operations, efforts south of the Texas border were called off from Monterrey, Mexico in 1963 and Panama in 1964.
The organization moved from Killeen to Austin due to Fr. Underwood’s 1962 appointment as pastor of Dolores Parish in Austin. There were obvious advantages to the organization’s move including nearby university facilities, a centralized location, the presence of apostolic priests and laity who wanted to help in the development of the CLMC. The corps became landowners in the summer of 1963 with the purchase of 106 acres of the former Camp Swift property north of Bastrop, Texas.
In 1972, Archie Gress, a member of the CLMC, formed the Volunteers for Educational and Social Services, which became a national organization until its closing in 2001.
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Language of Materials
The Catholic Lay Mission Corps (CLMC) was a volunteer organization for recent Catholic college-graduates to teach a year at an underfunded parish school in exchange for a small stipend. Correspondence, printed material, and photographs comprise the Catholic Lay Mission Corps collection.
The collection is organized into the following three series:
1. Institute of the Word, 1954-1960: Correspondence between Fr. Underwood and Fr. Haley regarding the Institute of the Word organization in Indiana and the early organization of the CLMC
2. Volunteer Teacher Mission Service, 1958-1962: Materials from the parish school of St. Joseph in Killeen and correspondence regarding the expansion of the program into Panama
3. Catholic Lay Mission Corps, 1959-1976: Correspondence of the CLMC director and promotional materials for CLMC
This collection was processed by Sr. M. Rita C. Ferraris, R.V.M., January 1997.
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Part of the Catholic Archives of Texas Repository
6225 E US 290 HWY EB SVRD
Austin TX 78723 United States