Joseph Cardijn was born in 1882 in Schaerbeek, Belgium, the eldest son of Henri Cardijn and Louise Cardijn, née Van Daelen. He lived with his grandparents in Halle until his parents quit their job as caretakers and his father started business as a coal merchant, while his mother opened a café. Both deeply Christian, they agreed to let Joseph continue his studies to become a priest instead of going to work in the factory.
After studying at the College of Our Lady in Halle, Joseph went in 1903 to the Mechelen seminary. On 22 September 1906, he was ordained priest. By then, influenced by his parents and by his fellow priest Adolf Daens, he had decided to spend his life bringing Christianity back to the working class.
He became a teacher in Wavre, and travelled abroad in the holidays, meeting people like Baden Powell and Ben Tillett. In 1912, after being ill, he was appointed to the parish of Laeken near Brussels, where he started creating and improving workers' organizations in earnest. Twice imprisoned during World War I for so-called patriotic activities, he left Laeken in 1919 and devoted his time solely to social work from then on. The same year, he started the "Young Trade Unionists". At first these met resistance from within the Catholic Church, but after a while the organization and Cardijn became accepted, and in fact Cardijn received a blessing from Pope Pius XI in 1925.
In 1924, the name of the organization was changed to "Jeunesse Ouvrière Chrétienne", the Young Christian Workers. JOC grew rapidly throughout the world; its members were often known as "Jocists" (the movement was often called "Jocism"). By 1938, there were 500,000 members throughout Europe; in 1967, this had increased to 2,000,000 members in 69 countries.
On 12 February 1965 Pope Paul VI announced that he would create Cardijn a cardinal; on the 15th Cardijn was appointed a bishop in anticipation of his elevation to the cardinate. Leo Joseph Cardinal Suenens consecrated him as the Titular Archbishop of Tusuros on 22 February 1965, and the next day Cardijn was elevated to the cardinate with the title of Cardinal Deacon of St. Michele Arcangelo.
In addition to Young Christian Workers, Joseph Cardijn's See, Judge, Act model influenced a number of lay movements around the world, including Young Christian Students, Student Catholic Action, Paulian Association, Young People for Development and Palms Australia.
In North America during the 20th Century, Cardijn's approach was applied in Catholic Action movements including the Young Christian Workers, the Christian Family Movement, and Friendship House by such leading Roman Catholic chaplains as Louis J. Putz and Reynold Henry Hillenbrand.
In Noarlunga Downs, South Australia, Cardijn College which is a Catholic Secondary School has been named in his honour. The school's motto is adopted from Cardijn's model.
- Biography of Cardijn on the Irish Young Christian Workers website
- A boy from Flanders – The life of Joseph Cardijn
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Joseph Cardijn.|
- "Biography at". Catholicauthors.com. 22 September 1906. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
- "Biography at". Belgium.be. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
- iPad iPhone Android TIME TV Populist The Page (26 September 1938). "Time magazine article from 1938". Time.com. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
- iPad iPhone Android TIME TV Populist The Page (26 September 1938). "Obituary in Time magazine, 1967". Time.com. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
- "Young Christian Workers' biography of Cardijn". Ycw.ie. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
- David M. Cheney. "Biography on Catholic Hierarchy website". Catholic-hierarchy.org. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
- "Report on Latin American bishops' communication with the Pope". Clericalwhispers.blogspot.com. 13 June 2007. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
- Ian Macqueen, PhD Thesis (2011). "Re-imagining South Africa: Black Consciousness, radical Christianity and the New Left, 1967 – 1977". University of Sussex.