2021 in anniversaries

As the new year dawns, it’s time to glance at the significant anniversaries Cardijn and Cardijn-movement anniversaries that are coming up in 2021.

1891: Pope Leo XIII publishes his landmark social encyclical, Rerum Novarum. Nine-year-old Joseph Cardijn reads it to his illiterate father.

Marguerite Fiévez and Jacques Meert, Cardijn, Chapter 2 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

1911: Cardijn travels to England in August-September 1911 to study the trade union movement, meeting the Christian Socialist, Ben Tillett, and other leading trade unionists.

Joseph Cardijn, Worker Organisation in England, 1911 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Joseph Cardijn, A visit to England (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Marc Sangnier as a student at L’Ecole Polytechnique

1921: Cardijn welcomes Marc Sangnier, founder of the Sillon movement, to Brussels, explicitly linking himself and the embryonic JOC to the Sillon.

Joseph Cardijn, Bienvenue à Marc Sangnier (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Marc Sangnier, Une visite à Bruxelles (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Joseph Cardijn, Welcome to Marc Sangnier (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Marc Sangnier, A visit to Brussels (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Stefan Gigacz, The Sillon and the YCW (Le.Sillon.net)

1931: First international meeting of JOC chaplains in Brussels in late 1931, including the unexpected participation of Fr Henri Roy from Canada, the founder of the JOC there.

Marguerite Fiévez and Jacques Meert, Cardijn, First Intenational Congress (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Henri Roy (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

1931: Pius XI’s encyclical, Quadragesimo Anno, which made specific reference to the JOC in §140:

“Moreover, the ranks of the workers themselves are already giving happy and promising signs of a social reconstruction,” Pius XI wrote. “To Our soul’s great joy, We see in these ranks also the massed companies of young workers, who are receiving the counsel of Divine Grace with willing ears and striving with marvelous zeal to gain their comrades for Christ.”

And in §135 we find another passage that appears to borrow heavily from Cardijn’s booklet on “intellectual and moral distress of young workers”: “Truly the mind shudders at the thought of the grave dangers to which the morals of workers (particularly younger workers) and the modesty of girls and women are exposed in modern factories.”

Joseph Cardijn, La JOC et la détresse intellectuelle et morale des jeunes travailleurs (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

1941: Official foundation of the Australian YCW in Melbourne on 2 September 1941.

History of the Cardijn Movements in Australia

1946: 75th anniversary of the foundation of the International Young Christian Students (IYCS-JECI) movement.


1951: French novelist, Maxence Van Der Meersch, who wrote a novel “Pêcheurs d’hommes” (Fishers of Men) about the JOC in Lille, France, died on 14 January 1951.


1951: Cardijn delivered the keynote address to the First World Congress on Lay Apostolate held in Rome in October 1951.

Joseph Cardijn, The world today and the apostolate of the laity (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Brazilian Bishop Helder Camara later described the impression made on him by this speech as “one of the greatest of my life.”

Stefan Gigacz, The Leaven in the Council, Joseph Cardijn and the Jocist Network at Vatican II, p. 171.

1961: John XXIII publishes his encyclical, Mater et Magistra, the encyclical proposed by Cardijn and the first encyclical to “canonise” the see-judge-act method in §236.

“236. There are three stages which should normally be followed in the reduction of social principles into practice. First, one reviews the concrete situation; secondly, one forms a judgment on it in the light of these same principles; thirdly, one decides what in the circumstances can and should be done to implement these principles. These are the three stages that are usually expressed in the three terms: look, judge, act.”

1961: Second International Council of the IYCW in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

1971Octogesima Adveniens, Paul VI Letter to Cardinal Maurice Roy, the president of the Pontifical Council of the Laity and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace for the 80th anniversary of Rerum Novarum. Cardinal Roy was in the fact the cousin of Fr Henry Roy, the founder of the Canadian JOC, and an early JOC chaplain himself.

Octogesima Adveniens was also explicitly structured in a See-Judge-Act format as follows:

Diversity of situations

Fundamental aspirations and currents of ideas

Christians face to face with these new problems

Maurice Roy (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

1971: 50th anniversary of the death of Mgr Pierre Haubtmann, French JOCF chaplain, national chaplain of the ACO (Action Catholique Ouvrière or Christian Workers movement), chaplain to the ACI (Action Catholiques des Milieux Indépendantes, a movement for professional workers and business people). Pierre Haubtmann was also the compiler of the final version of the Vatican II Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the World of Today (Gaudium et Spes). He died tragically in a hiking accident on 6 September 1971.

Pierre Haubtmann (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

1981: Extraordinary International Council of the International YCW at Mechelen (Malines), Belgium followed by an Intercontinental Meeting of IYCW movements in Bogota, Colombia, which led to the healing of a split in the IYCW International Team that dated from 1979.

1991: 6th International Council of the IYCW in Adelaide, Australia.

2001: Death on 3 August of Jacques Meert, one of the “founder trio” of the YCW.

Jacques Meert (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

2001: Foundation of the Cardijn Liaison Committee now Cardijn Community International at a “Networking for Development” conference in Bangkok.

Please let me know of other anniversaries that I’ve missed or that you’d like to add!