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The IYCW in Lumen: Cardijn's method and message today.

With the slogan "Joseph Cardijn inspires us", the Lumen Vitae International Centre, in collaboration with the CEFOC (Centre de Formation Cardijn), organised a day of study and exchange in Namur, Belgium. A very diverse audience gathered: it was composed of students of the International Centre who are, themselves, from the most diverse backgrounds, social activists, many of them members of the current IYCW, the ICA -International Cardijn Association, former YCW members, or leaders from the GEPO (European Group of Workers' Pastoral), Vie Féminine, CSC (Christian Trade Union), CEFOC (Cardijn Training Centre), members, staff and guests of the Lumen Vitae Centre... all with the same objective, i.e. to deepen and enhance Joseph Cardijn's See-Judge-Act method.

Joseph Cardijn and his method, as we well know, have inspired many organizations and social action movements around the world, especially the youth movements of Catholic Action: JAC, YCS, JIC, YCW and JUC, and adults such as Catholic Women's Action, the Christian Workers Movement, but also training centres, Church practices and orientations and liberation theologies. In Belgium the Christian Trade Union (CSC) and the Christian Workers Movement are large and powerful movements that have Cardijn as their inspiring Father.

It was on the beautiful sunny day of April 30, 2019, the eve of Labour Day, that Namur saw us enthusiastically discussing the importance of the method, Cardijn's message and the fruits of his time on this earth because, as the current President of the IYCW put it, "the YCW was founded with the mission of making heaven on earth - justice, peace, solidarity". Discussions and questions - such as: Joseph Cardijn, who are you? What have you become? Cardijn's influence and heritage, the influence and heritage of his intuitions and action to date, the implication of the "See Judge-Act" method at the level of society and the Church - motivated the participants throughout the day.

Sarah Prenger, President of the International YCW, took the floor and through the testimonies of the young workers of the world was able to reaffirm the importance and relevance of the method for the development of an in-depth analysis of the reality of either the specific reality of young workers or the economic and structural situation in the world; for the review of life and action carried out by young workers all over the world; and especially for the process of education, training and organisation of young workers, in the IYCW but also elsewhere in the different social movements, the Church, trade unions...

The testimonies were quite emotional and reaffirmed the convictions mentioned above. According to Fatima Hussain, 24, a member of the Pakistan YCW, for example, who tells us that it was "at a base group meeting that I learned how the YCW is changing the lives of young workers through the ROLWA method (See, Judge, Act)".

In today's world, challenges to continue Cardijn's message and method have also been highlighted, among others:

- The economic challenges, because reality in the world, for the working class and specifically for young people, suffers from constant changes and a stifling speed: in labour relations and precariousness, technological and cultural changes such as individualism....

- Another challenge is the possible trap in the use of the See-Judge-Act method. The different aspects of the method should never be divided up. In addition, the other important dimensions of the YCW method must be respected such as: do it, do with and let do and promoting organizations where their members organize themselves among themselves, by them and for them.

A glass of friendship was served to conclude this very productive day!

And finally and to be able to go further, here are three essential videos to watch: one on the history, the personality of Joseph Cardijn and the social context in which he revealed himself and developed his method; another one with the presentation of the President of the International YCW; and a third one on the See, Judge, Act method, seen by a former chaplain of the IYCW and now Bishop in Brazil, Mgr. Reginaldo Andrietta.

Enjoy watching the videos !




A Brief Update on the International Colloquy of Former YCWers

The ad hoc group is preparing the Former YCWers’ Colloquy while the International YCW is preparing its XIV International Council.

Towards the International Council of the IYCW

At its meeting in August, the current international team of the IYCW defined the programme for the preparation and launching of the International Council. From now on, all national movements are invited to prepare and discuss in greater depth the trends, challenges and developments of the plan of action 2012-2016, as well as the future of the movement. Some Council Support Groups have been set up in Germany and the base groups are eager to welcome delegates from different countries and exchange about their realities. The IYCW and the national movements are all looking for funds to ensure this important international event. As former members, we are all invited to contribute in various ways to the success of the programme and of this debate about the movement.

The International Former YCWers’ Colloquy: Where Do We Stand?

Some twenty countries have been reached since last June. Key people have contacted us or have been identified and solicited. In at least five countries, former YCWers’ networks (more or less organized) were already operating with occasional meetings. Around fifteen testimonies have been sent (from Germany, Brazil, Canada, France, Gabon, Mexico, Venezuela, and even from the USA). Some books – personal testimonies or collective stories – already exist and are being sent to Brussels. A very interesting and positive sign!

We can already tell you that the circulation and exchange of emails is very active and dynamic. We are so happy every time someone contacts us and tells us how they are doing.

It is also very exciting to see that in some countries, the current and former YCW members are already connected – to a greater or lesser extent -, sometimes even with specific objectives. The concrete preparation of the International Council and of the Colloquy will further help.

Looking to the Future: Prospects

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).

Participation Forecast

This has not been finalized yet. But we have already defined some criteria which seem important, for instance:

  • The idea to ensure participation of at least 5 people for each big region (Africa, the Americas, Asia), and a somewhat larger participation from the European countries since the International Council and the Colloquy will take place in Germany.
  • Find a balance between generations and regions. Since the initiative is mainly to serve the current and future generations, priority should be given to “former members who are not too old”, who are still operational and able to provide the services effectively needed and solicited. From this perspective, priority should go to those who are already in action with some national movements and/or are motivated to continue this work after the Council and Colloquy.


As always, funding is of course necessary to ensure the holding of the Colloquy. Specific project applications – separate from those submitted for the International Council – have been submitted to several organizations. We have stated that the holding of the International Council is a priority and that the holding of the Colloquy will depend on the means available. All former YCWers from Europe, North America, Australia, and some other Asian countries, should self-finance their participation (travel and accommodation expenses), either themselves or, if need be, through a solidarity contribution among former members in their country/region.

This is, dear friends, a brief update. Our next meeting will take place in March.

Father Reginaldo Andrietta, Former Chaplain of the International YCW, Was Appointed Bishop by Pope Francis

A Recognition of his Commitment with the Working Youth

Pope Francis named José Reginaldo Andrietta bishop of Jales, in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil. His appointment as bishop was announced on Wednesday 21st October.

Reginaldo Andrietta was born in Pirassununga (Sao Paulo) in 1957 and ordained a priest in 1983. He has known the YCW since his time at the seminary and has dedicated his life to young workers ever since. He was chaplain of the Brazil YCW in the 1980s, of the Americas YCW from 1991 to 1995, and of the International YCW from 2000 to 2006.

He holds a master's degree in catechesis from the Institut international Lumen Vitae in Brussels, Belgium, and a licentiate in pastoral theology from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium.

He started the process of extension of the YCW in Argentina and the United States and is currently pastor of the “Sao Judas Tadeu” parish in Americana (Sao Paulo), where he is working to establish the YCW.

The International YCW is delighted over this appointment. Reginaldo’s contribution, or rather Mgr Reginaldo Andrietta’s contribution to the International YCW was most valuable over all his years as a chaplain. He provided moral and spiritual support to many generations of YCW members and national movements throughout the world, in particular in Africa and the Americas, following in the footsteps of Mgr Joseph Cardijn and contributing to the rich history of the movement.

We will never forget Reginaldo’s vitality to develop the YCW methodology (See-Judge-Act) and the Review of Life and Worker Action. We are convinced that his contribution to the church as a bishop will be huge.

In his new function, he will be able to continue voicing the young workers’ aspirations within the church and society.

The International YCW is joining those who know Reginaldo Andrietta’s life and commitment to the young workers to congratulate him with all our hearts and wish him all the best in this new stage in his life.

A Young Worker is worth more than all the Gold in the World

Let’s go on with our continuous struggle for, by and with the young workers!

For, as Cardijn said, “A young worker is worth more than all the gold in the world.” Over a century ago, in 1912, Joseph Cardijn was named curate of the parish of Notre-Dame at Laeken, a suburb of Brussels, Belgium. He immediately discovered the situation of young workers, particularly that of the exploited girl apprentices. What he saw led him to create the initial groups of workers of what was to become a movement, the Young Christian Workers (YCW). More than 100 years later, the YCW remains very active and contributing with the struggles of young workers, not only in Belgium but in more than 40 countries across the world. Local groups developed in Belgium first, but soon the movement crossed the borders to reach other European countries, and finally other countries around the world.

On 25th August, 2015, the International Young Christian Workers movement (IYCW) celebrates its 58th anniversary. It commemorates the great world assembly held in Rome in 1957, which brought together 32,000 young workers from 85 countries. A Sunday mass took place on 25th August 1957 at Saint Peter’s basilica, and Pope Pius XII joined the young workers that afternoon on Saint Peter’s Square. And that was the moment and day of the birth of IYCW.

The IYCW celebrates its anniversary every year on 25th August. In 1912, Cardijn created the first YCW groups because he was appalled at the terrible working and living conditions of young workers at the time. Today, more than 100 years later, the IYCW continues to set up local groups on all continents around the world to fight the situations of exploitation and injustice faced by young workers and promotes the campaign for Social Protection (Just Work, Gender Equality and Quality Education) for all young workers. Through its action, the movement has achieved a lot throughout its history, but a lot remains to be done in its struggle for decent working and living conditions for each and every young worker. Because, as Cardijn said, “Every young worker is worth more than all the gold in the world”.

Source: International Cardijn Foundation (ICF), – 75 year of action

Cardijn's Life


Video produced by the Australian YCW


Is it natural that Cardijn always felt that the original groups of young workers that he had founded in the parish of Laeken en 1912 – 14 best incarnated the YCW ideal that is also known as the « YCW mystique ». Here is what he wrote himself in 1958:

« The most fundamental characteristic of the beginnings of the YCW ( before the first World War ) was the call to an apostolate, a total and complete apostolate for several young women workers who would train and raise up the others.

It was also the time of great apostolic demands and of great apostolic commitments: leaving a « good job » for a workshop, a factory, a dirty, repugnant, sub-human job; accepting to share meals with women workers in the workshops of factories making rabbit fur, rubber, artificial silk; or going to live in an attic in Rue Haute in the midst of an environment of prostitution ».

The story of this « golden legend » has never been written down. However, it is the only explanation for the extraordinary power of the YCW, the YCW mystique. I believe that is the essential condition of the true worker revolution. Without it, the YCW is doomed to bourgeoisification: this is perhaps the greatest present danger.

This jocist mystique, this call to a total apostolate in the only explanation for the extraordianry power of the YCW.


1882 – 13/11 Birth of Joseph Cardijn

1906 – Cardijn is ordenated priest. Travels abroad.

1912 - Cardijn, curate in Laeken. Local unions for young women workers.

1916 – 18 Cardijn imprisoned by the Germans twice.

1924 – The two organisations take the names JOC and KAJ respectively ( Young Christian Workers or YCW in English ).

1925 – Belgian YCW statutes. Cardijn meets with Pope Pius XI.

1935 - YCW in Poland. 5/6: First YCW international representative action before the International Labor Office.

1938 – Cardijn travels to Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia.

1939 – Preparation of the YCW world-wide pilgrimage to Rome.

5/9: Planned date for the YCW pilgrimage to Rome cancelled owing to the war.

1942 – 11/6: Cardijn and the two Belgian national presidents are arrested.

21/9: Cardijn released from prison.

1957 – 23/8 – 4/9: Rome ( Italy ) Gathering First Internatinal Council and official foundation of the IYCW.

1961 – 2-11/11: Second International Council in Rio de Janeiro ( Brasil ),

1965 – February: Cardijn is made cardinal.

30/11 – 14/12: Third International Council in Bangkok ( Thailand ).

World survey on leisure activities of young people. Plan of Action of migration, big cities.

1966 – IYCW world enquiry on leisure.

1967 – 24/7: Death of Cardijn.


More information can be found here:

IYCW International Council 2016

International Colloquy of former YCW leaders 2016