In the footsteps of Cardijn

A celebration in memory of Joseph Cardijn in Namur

A mass was celebrated in memory of Cardinal Cardijn in the Saint-Nicholas church in Namur, Belgium, on May 8, 2022, on the initiative of former members of Catholic action movements who used the See-Judge-Act method created by the founder of the Young Christian Workers, a movement whose 100th anniversary will be celebrated in 2025 and which has branches in some fifty countries around the world and an international secretariat in Schaerbeek, Belgium.

At the request of Mgr Warin, Bishop of Namur, the mass was presided over by Fr Joseph Bayet, former JOC-F chaplain and former vicar general in Namur, assisted by Fr Jacques Hanon, IYCW collaborator, and Fr Pierre Dejardin, the parish priest.

During the service, the Philippine Leizyl Salem, treasurer of the IYCW, who was accompanied by the Brazilian Arlindo De Oliveira, in charge of the International Cardijn Association (ICA), recalled that Joseph Cardijn's parents had accepted that their eldest son study to become a priest instead of going to work in a factory, because he wanted to help young workers to find answers to their difficult living conditions, using the famous See-Judge-Act method that he proposed later on.

Quoting testimonies from members of different branches of the IYCW, the dynamic spokesperson showed how Cardijn's legacy is still relevant today and how important it is for those young people to be part of the movement which "since its foundation, has always been committed to the development and transformation of young people's lives and work."

For example, Filipino Ronnel has to do all kinds of jobs to survive and had to stop his studies as a result of Covid-19. Venezuelan Eduardo earns $30 a month as a dance teacher and breadwinner, but has to work nights to earn an extra $20. Asian migrant and domestic worker in Saudi Arabia, Mara has been harassed by her boss, who has her passport, and she sees only her distant family and her faith in God as supports. A member of the Congo Brazzaville YCW, the visually impaired Audricia faces challenges in finding a job, discrimination and harassment! And, like the other witnesses, a young Australian said that he learned the importance of solidarity in the YCW and understood his rights as a human being and as a young worker through the See-Judge-Act method.

According to Leizyl Salem, these testimonies reflect the conditions of exploitation and injustice currently experienced by young workers around the world, for whom "the hope of a job and a dignified life is becoming more and more remote", while, "in general, economic exclusion and youth unemployment are only two of the main challenges they face". Indeed, "many young people in so-called developing countries are out of work, out of school, or working in the informal sector. And in the so-called developed countries, they are also often forced to accept temporary jobs, precarious contracts, unpaid and unregulated apprenticeships, or the status of 'bogus self-employed'.

Concerned by these situations, the IYCW will hold its 15th International Council in Peru from October 26 to November 8 this year, its treasurer said. "We will be able to discuss and analyze together the actions carried out by our different national branches and at the international level", she explained. Because, despite the hard impact of the measures taken due to the pandemic and its evolution, the young workers have not remained in 'confinement' and have continued to tackle the common problems existing in the world. Through the See-Judge-Act method and the inspiration of Joseph Cardijn, the International YCW has continued to adapt to the different contexts in which young people are. And the movement invites them to go "Forward", quoting the very words of its founder.

For their part, the initiators of the celebration once again emphasized all that they have received from Cardijn and said they hope to see him beatified and canonized by the Pope one day. On the other hand, the Cardijn Formation Center (Cefoc) organized a working weekend on May 7 and 8 on the theme "Stop Poverty".

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