This article focuses on the emergence of the youth Christian workers movement in Tonkin during the decisive decade before the Vietnamese Revolution (1935–1945). It explores the spread of the social doctrines and associational forms of the global Catholic Action movement among Vietnamese Catholics in a colonial context. How were these new forms of militancy disseminated among the Vietnamese Catholic communities, both clergy and laity? To what extent were Catholic youth mobilized by these perspectives of living their faith beyond the borders of their parish and its “good deeds”? An analysis of the Thanh Lao Công (TLC) or Jeunesse Ouvrière Chrétienne (JOC) [Young Christian Workers] in the three major northern cities—Hà Nội, Hải Phòng, and Nam Định—illustrates the adaptation of global Catholic ideas and organizations in a Vietnamese context. It shows the attempts of major figures to enact reforms within the Vietnamese church regarding economic and social transformations at the end of the 1930s. It highlights the initiative of the TLC’s young Vietnamese leaders who seized the opportunity of the promotion of youth movements during the Vichy period and participated in social and political debates in a context of nationalist turmoil.

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