2020 in anniversaries – Updated

To start the new year, here is a starter list of significant anniversaries that fall this year.

1920: La Jeunesse Syndicaliste magazine: Although the Young Trade Unionists had started to meet in 1919, just months after Fernand Tonnet returned from war service, it launched its journal entitled, La Jeunesse Syndicaliste, in 1920.

1925: Cardijn’s meeting with Pope Pius XI: After Cardinal Mercier had concluded that he could not support the JOC and that it would have to close, Cardijn appealed directly to Pope Pius XI. This led to his legendary meeting with the pope in March 1925 where the pope gave his full backing to the movement, saving the movement from closure and opening up the possibilities for its international expansion. By the time Pope Pius XI died in 1938, the YCW had reached nearly 50 countries.

1925: First National Congress of the Belgian JOC and JOCF: Once Pius XI had given his backing to the movement, the Belgian JOC and JOCF were able to go forward in holding their own first national congresses, which are regarded as the “official” foundation of the movement.

1925: Manuel de la JOC: 1925 was also the year of first publication of the Manuel de la JOC (YCW Manual) that Cardijn had first drafted while a political prisoner during World War I. The Manual of the JOCF followed a year later, including the first mention of the iconic “see-judge-act” method. The Second Editions published in 1930 gave the JOC a global reach and helped the movement spread around the world, long before the invention of the Internet and the World Wide Web.

1935: First International Congress: This year is the 85th anniversary of the First International Congress of the JOC held in Brussels from 25-29 August 1935.

It began with the famous rally and mass at Heysel Stadium on Sunday 25 August. This is said to have gathered a crowd of up to 100,000 (although the photos of the event don’t seem to indicate that number!).

That date of 25 August has long been celebrated as the foundation day of the International YCW although it is usually associated with the Rome Pilgrimage in 1957, which also climaxed in St Peter’s Square on Sunday 25 August 1957. And in fact, the movement already celebrated its 10th anniversary in August 1945, just months after World War II ended in Europe.

1945: Deaths at Dachau Concentration Camp of Fernand Tonnet and Paul Garcet: JOC co-founders, Fernand Tonnet and Paul Garcet, who had both been arrested by the Gestapo in 1943, died in the Dachau Concentration Camp. Garcet died on 19 January and Tonnet on 2 February.

1950: Third International Congress of the JOC, Brussels: This congress was the first congress held in Europe after World War II (a previous congress had been held in Montreal in 1947). It helped set the scene for the First World Council held in 1957. And it also had a great influence on the preparation of the First World Congress on Lay Apostolate held in Rome in 1951.

1950: Death of Marc Sangnier, founder of Le SillonMarc Sangnier‘s movement, Le Sillon, which inspired many of the methods of the JOC, died on Pentecost Sunday, 28 May, 1950. Upon his death, Angelo Roncalli, the future Pope John XXIII, who was then Nuncio in France, wrote to Sangnier’s wife, saying: “I heard Marc Sangnier speak for the first time in Rome around 1903 or 1904 at a meeting of Catholic youth. The powerful charisma of his words and his spirit enthralled me. The most vivid memory of my whole youth is of his personality and his political and social activity.”

1960: Cardijn appointed as Member of Vatican II Preparatory Commission on Lay Apostolate: After Pope John XXIII called the Second Vatican Council in 1959, he created ten preparatory commissions including a particularly innovative one on lay apostolate that was his own personal wish. Cardijn worked hard as a member of this commission, writing nearly 20 papers in his battle to make known the jocist conception of lay apostolate and method of formation.

1970: Arrest of YCW leaders in Brazil: In 1970, the International YCW launched a worldwide solidarity campaign with the Brazilian JOC leaders who had been arrested under the military dictatorship of that period.

1975: IYCW 4th International Council and adoption of Declaration of Principles: The IYCW held its 4th International Council in Linz, Austria, adopting its famous Declaration of Principles together with other documents addressing The Task of Education and The Review of Life and Worker Action.

1975: “Disappearance” and death of IYCW lay collaborator, Jose “Pepe” Palacio: In December 1975, Pepe Palacio, a former leader from the Argentina JOC and a member of the Christian Workers Movement, “disappeared” just weeks after he had returned from a Workers Meeting in Bogota, Colombia, organised by the IYCW. He had only recently been appointed as the first lay collaborator for the IYCW. Years later, his family discovered government records confirming that he had been killed.

1995: Nelson Mandela flew into by helicopter on 26 November 1995 to open the 7th World Council of the IYCW held at Oukasie and Johannesburg, South Africa. Here is Mandela’s speech on his official website:


2000: International History Colloquy, Brussels: The International Cardijn Foundation (now the International Cardijn Association) and the IYCW held an international colloquy in Brussels to mark the 75th anniversary of the movement’s foundation.

Marguerite Fiévez

2000: Death of Marguerite Fiévez: Belgian JOCF leader and IYCW pioneer, Marguerite Fiévez, who had managed the IYCW Secretariat from 1945 to 1957 and who then worked as Cardijn’s personal secretary until his death in 1967, died on 5 June 2000, just weeks after the History Colloquy. She spent many years cataloguing Cardijn’s personal archives, the archives of the Belgian JOC/F as well as those of the IYCW. She was also one of the first members of the Pontifical Council of the Laity after Vatican II.

Most of these anniversaries (so far) concern the history of the YCW. I’d be grateful if you could signal me other movement anniversaries that could be included.

Stefan Gigacz



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