Remembering Bernie Docherty, extension worker in India

Former YCW India leader, Joseph Arokyasamy, has penned this tribute to the late Bernard James Docherty, an extension worker from Australia, who helped launch the YCW in several Indian dioceses.

Greetings in the Name of Jesus our Lord.

I am sending a very short background, my experiences with Mr Bernie Docherty and Miss Betty King and their hard work to organising the YCW in Bangalore and Madras Archdiocese, Poona and Allepey Dioceses. I travelled with him to three Diocesan meetings.

Bernie and Betty came to India at the end of 1960 and stayed till end of 1963.

Bernie use to cycle to contact workers in various areas in the city and he used to walk to places close by. He was so simple, honest and humble person, very hard working, very sincere in his work and his words. His behaviour attracted many including myself.
I first joined the group during Christmas 1960, learning to know all about YCW. In 1961 I formally joined the group due to Bernie’s persuasion.

I was not good in English and he encouraged me every time I made mistakes. In Sacred Heart Parish there were seven members in the YCW.

Bernie used to visit my simple home and have black coffee from my mother. She was very much fond of him. He encouraged me to study and I joined a tutorial college for Matriculation in 1961.

Bernie organised a central committee with Fr Rajekaiar as Diocesan chaplain from St Francis Xavier church, St Joseph church, St Mary’s, St Patrick’s and Sacred Heart Church. Mr Joe Bastian was President.

YCW Girls Group

In the middle of July 191 along with Fr Thomas Joseph of Madras, he organised three days study at Coimbatore. Forty members from Madras, Mangalore, Bangalore, Allepy, Trichy along with seven priests also participated. Fr Thomas Joseph explained the methodology of YCW, what it stands for etc. All the workers were very happy to learn See, Judge and Act technique.

In 1962 he and Fr Thomas organised a seminar for seminarians at the Bishop’s House in Allepey.

I was invited to give a talk on contacts. It was my first experience on stage and I was very nervous but Fr Thomas helped me to complete my talk.

After a year and half Helen and Peter visited India and Peter found that there were many Joseph in the group. So they called Joe Bastian Big Joe and me Little Joe. Till today everyone calls me Little Joe.

Bernie and Betty organised three working women’s group with help of Cynthia Joneson. I was the one who introduced Cynthia to Betty when she was in my office.

Bernie organized five groups.

In the year 1963 Bernie married Philomena Dubiar from the Madras YCW girls. I was his best man. He left India in 1963.
Today there are more than 15000 men and women involved in YCW, CWM and CCI in more than 65 Dioceses in India.

Joseph Arokyasamy


Bernie Docherty, YCW extension worker in India (Australian Cardijn Institute)

Betty King (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Joseph Arokyasamy