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International Colloquy of former YCW leaders on the 25th and 26th September 2016 in Aachen, Germany

« The contribution of past YCW leaders to the reinforcement of the IYCW mouvement today and in the future »

A two-day colloquy will be held on 25th and 26th September 2016 gathering around sixty former YCW leaders from all over the world. It will coincide with the opening of the XIV International Council of the YCW in Aachen

The former members will listen to the present national and international leaders presenting the face of young people today, as well as the challenges faced by the present YCW. The former YCWers will bring and share the synthesis of their testimonies.

The testimonies from the continental delegates will not only describe what the movement brought into their lives, but also what, according to them, the YCW as an organization, brought to the worker and social movements, to the Church, to the society, and answering the question of whether it is still relevant today and will still be relevant tomorrow

The former leaders will reflect upon the contribution they can make to reinforce the movement today and in the future. They can create or multiply national networks able to intercommunicate between them and with the International Cardijn

The opening session of the International World Council and of the Colloquy of former leaders will be held together with the presentation of the reality of today’s popular youth and the corresponding challenges.

Then the Colloquy will hear the synthesis of the preparation work, done by all the former leaders who wrote their testimonies, expressed by the continental delegates. As already mentioned, they will summarize not only what the movement brought into their lives, but also what, according to them, the YCW as an organization brought to the worker and social movements, to the Church, to the society, answering the question of whether it is still relevant for today and tomorrow

We strongly believe that the International Colloquy will be one key activity to bring together present leaders and IYCW former members from different countries worldwide.

International colloquy, a first step to “activate former YCWers’ networks”


The ad hoc group is preparing the Former YCWers’ Colloquy while the International YCW is preparing its XIV International Council. Indeed, the current and former leaders of the IYCW, from the grassroots to the international level, are devoting all their energy to continuing the preparation of the international council and the international colloquy.

The International Colloquy is seen as the first step of a project aiming to “activate former YCWers’ networks” wherever possible. Current leaders of the movement ask for support in different fields and levels, sometimes at the local level, sometimes at the international level, depending on conditions and contexts. They see the experience of former members as a force that may help strengthen the movement, e.g. in the analysis-action, planning, training, financial support, extension of the movement, networking, and advocacy. There is, therefore, a “demand”. Existing former YCWers’ networks, and those yet to be born, can offer their means, possibilities and competences to a greater or lesser extent, according to the situations. The Colloquy should therefore try to match “supply” and “demand” as much as possible. Existing or emerging networks could become “Cardijn Associations or Foundations” linked to each other and to the ICF (International Cardijn Fund).


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Collecting testimonies: The spirit of change through action remains strong among young and formers IYCW’s members

Thanks to the YCW and its See-Judge-Act methodology, we, as millions of young workers around the world have done since 1925, act to live in dignity. The spirit of the YCW encourages us to be aware of the living and working conditions in our community. Our methodology allows us as young workers, sons and daughters of God, to address the causes of the problems we face and to transform the collective reality towards reaching the values we believe in. This spirit of change through action remains strong among young workers thanks ….

A team of 3 people has started to work on these testimonies, not to achieve an exhaustive analysis of their content, but rather to highlight their similarities and identify their differences, specificities or points of concern. It is fascinating – concerning particularly the way we started in the YCW, our first steps in the movement, our first actions – to see how similar we may have been, and, at the same time, how unique the YCW call may have been for each of us, in what it triggered in our lives, and for the rest of our lives.

We will give some outline of the testimonies’ content during the International Council. Also, we have some ideas to use the testimonies as for example:

-          To write down a synthesis

-          To organize an exhibition made of significant sentences coming from various testimonies, with the name, picture, country and signature of their author… This exhibition could, further-on, be displayed as a permanent exhibition by Joseph Cardijn’s tomb in Laeken Our Lady Church.

-          To set a specific electronic site for the testimonies. We will let you know about it.

-          To arrange a “Bank of testimonies” within the YCW International Archives, where could be collected with our testimonies all the books and testimonies already available and sill to come.

All that would require some work and skill. If some of you feel interested and competent, please let us know, they will be most welcome.

To finish, we believe that with those testimonies, a seed has been planted and we have surely opened a window of opportunity for the reinforcing of the network of former YCW members and for our objective of strengthening the movement. The former members’ contribution has become a reality.

For the time being, we would like to thank you very sincerely for accompanying us along this path.

Long live young workers!

Long live the day-to-day building and constant renewal of our utopias!

Note: A registration to participate in the colloquy is required

A first view on the testimonies: the young worker’s dignity is just non-negotiable

This opening input aims at facilitating the sharing between the present YCW movement and its former leaders. It has been nourished by the answers of nearly 200 YCW former leaders to a questionnaire sent by the IYCW at the beginning of 2016. These numerous contributions, coming from all continents, paved the way towards this (very important in our point of view) meeting aiming at discerning the possibilities for the present national movements and the international secretariat to reckon on the support and assistance of some of their elders ready to help the movement which had contributed to form them.

Of course former leaders have their own commitments in all sorts of fields. But they still recognize the extent to which their experience in the movement has marked and shaped them up, and how it still helps them fulfill their present commitments and responsibilities. Our sharing during this colloquy should allow us to clarify the conditions and the areas in which the movement’s present key-leaders could count on their elders’ support. Finding concrete forms of collaboration and support will depend on our sharing. This input is just an attempt to highlight some important aspects of the former YCW leaders’ journeys since their involvement in the movement.

These testimonies show how the movement has guided their whole being and life. Most of them found their life orientation and commitment within the YCW, through the awareness and action it allowed them to develop at various levels. The movement worked as a trigger in their life. Even though they may have gone through highly different types of commitments or actions in the different contexts they encountered, they all reckon that their commitments and actions were rooted in what they had discovered in the YCW.

The former leaders who answered our questionnaire (and surely a number of others who did not do it) are highly concerned, if not worried, about the YCW capacity to still offer to the young workers of today, in all countries, the similar educational opportunities as the ones they benefited of in the past. It means that the young people who are in charge of the YCW must in all times be allowed to develop the movement in accordance with the various contexts they face: that is what the history of any institution or living organization is made of. Yet, on the other hand, the former leaders always note that any YCW member can be identified through some common constant behaviors, such as the way he relates with others, the way he refers to the reality and commits himself to change it.

That is what the beautiful diversity of the testimonies shows most: each person is unique in his or her way of concretizing his or her commitment. The context in which he or she lived, were different and the times have changed. Each narrative has its own color… but they all bring the same characteristics to light, the same “values” expressed a thousand fold through the same words: dignity, solidarity, justice.

The young worker’s dignity is just non-negotiable. Each generation of leaders stresses it again and again, often using Cardijn’s words. It is an inescapable landmark. This dignity is altogether a given characteristic of all young workers, and a still-to-be-gained characteristic in each one’s concrete situation. It nurtures a type of solidarity which does not restrict itself to punctual actions, but which inspires a permanent way of living: “the other one is my brother”. Such a society requires an unending struggle for justice, at all possible level, from the common daily life to the international realities, in all its individual and international dimensions. All these aspects always affect the way the reality is analyzed and assessed, and the action which is planned accordingly.

Finally, to conclude, the first read of the whole testimonies, a big thanks, first of all, to all who took the time of making themselves available to write down their testimonies: these testimonies are highly inspiring documents as they all speak of their past and present social commitments. Former YCW leaders were indeed, and still are, true protagonists of a new society.

Note: A registration to participate in the colloquy is required

Welcome to all of you: Agenda and venue of the International Colloquy

In Europe, where we write this letter to you from, summer time is almost finished. The time of long sunny days and holydays for many are almost ended and a new season will start soon. Yet, as you can imagine, the International Secretariat keeps fully busy with the preparation of the coming International Council, and so does the “Colloquy ad-hoc preparation committee” willing to make sure that the colloquy will take place in due time and be the success it deserves.

For the time being it is important to understand well the essential purpose of the Colloquy which is “to activate formers’ networks” everywhere it will be possible - mainly at country, continental and international level. That explains the framework of the agenda which reads as follows:


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IYCW International Council 2016

International Colloquy of former YCW leaders 2016