YCS has its’ roots in YCW which was founded by Cardinal Joseph Cardijn in 1920s in Belgium after the 1st world war. YCS is an offshoot of YCW movement dates back to 1929 in Belgium.

Cardinal Joseph Cardijn inspired this movement.

- Born in Belgium on 13 Nov.1882

- His father had a small coal merchant’s business. As a small boy he was helping his father. His hobbies were talking to beggars, cobblers, sailors, bakers etc in the village square. He used to help them in their work. His mother used to give him money saying “Have money – you will meet beggars- give or spend. Choice is yours”.

- He was Sensitive to every type of human suffering. But one group got his attention. They were factory workers. He heard their cry. He used to peep and see them working from his home. Workers were going with their children to work. He used to wonder where the little ones were going - places they do not belong to! So as young he had a deep concern for people, a great sense of justice - qualities which YCS greatly values.

- After his school studies his parents thought of taking him a job in the factory with the other working class boys. But he had other ideas-to become a priest. He joined the seminary. After some time his father died. Seeing his father who had worked hard all his life, he swore to become a priest of the working people. While on holidays from seminary, workers saw him as a little priest who joined with other forces that oppressed. This wounded him. But he vowed ‘I will give my life to saving the working classes of the world’.

- He was ordained Priest on 22 Sept. 1906. He went around finding solutions for the workers from the trade unions, scouting etc but was not satisfied. In 1916 during the war, he worked actively in the underground. He was arrested for speaking against German armies. During this time in prison, he set plans and directions for YCW.

- First YCW: First he founded a group for young women needle workers and also a group for young working boys. He said “we are setting out to conquer the world”. In 1924 the young trade unionists became YCW with the founder Joseph Cardijn as National Chaplain.

- First: He wished to create the most powerful, strongest, most united organization in which workers feel the solidarity of their interests and the invincible power of their union.

- Second: To enable each worker to educate his own individuality, to uplift himself morally and intellectually so that he may feel the need of more wellbeing and more justice.

- Approach: Changing the whole environment that surrounded young workers. His saying “You don’t give tonic to the fish that is suffering from the effects of polluted water; you have got to change that water……the environment”

- In March 1925 Pope Pius XI received the founder in Rome and gave the Movement the sanction of the Church.

- On 12th Feb.1965 Pope Paul VI consecrated him as a bishop and made him Cardinal.

- Cardijn passed away on the night of the 24th July 1967 at the age of 85.

- “We are still at the beginning, we are always at the beginning, we are just beginning” was his famous saying.


  • "Can you see this vision? An ideal of life which must reveal the inviolable dignity of each young worker. The body of a young worker being a temple of the living God".
  • " We must change the water(culture) to change the fish(workers)"
  • "The factory, not a brothel but a templeWithout work there is no host, no chalice, no altar stone, no priestly vestments; without work there can be no churches, no religious, no worker families to give the church the priests, the missionaries, the apostles that she needs".
  • "We must shake hands and make up, and we Catholics must be the first to offer our hand in peace. After all, we keep proclaiming that we have the whole truth and this truth is charity, so we should be the first to offer our hand in peace."
  • "We are just beginning."
  • "Form people in its image of nothingness" then will Cardijn become fully alive in the church.
  • "We are always at the beginning",
  • "Lay apostolate is a necessity which does not have ecclesiastical origin but which is of the divine order, willed by God himself."
  • Pope Pius XI who approved Cardijn's plan for an autonomous lay movement among young workers exclaimed, "Here at last is someone who speaks to about the masses."
  • .And perhaps for the first time in history all humanity, including men of the greatest knowledge and vision, realizes in fear trembling the power of death and destruction to which the abuse of science and omnipotent technology can give birth, if humanity loses the sense of God, of faith, of eternity..."
  • Every young worker is worth more than all the gold in the world.The life of a young worker, a young worker is worth more than all the gold in the world because he / she is the son / daughter of God.
  • .The YCS is not a label which can be placed on any young peoples Movement. (It is essentially) action among students..

-Joseph Cardijn, Inspiration of YCS

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