Remembering Flo Triendl

Today marks the centenary of the birth of a great American YCW leader, Flo Triendl, on 27 April 1923.

I got to know her during the International YCW History project organised by the International Cardijn Foundation from 1997-2000.

A remarkable person, who devoted her whole life to others, beginning with her YCW experience in Toledo, Ohio, then in Europe, where she worked as a translator for the IYCW, and was also active in the Belgian JOCF movement.

Later, she moved to South Africa, working with black communities and workers at the height of the apartheid regime.

Her story needs to be told in full.

But for the moment, here’s a brief biography from the Joseph Cardijn Digital Library, together with a few video clips that I made from an interview with her in 2012.

Rest in peace, Flo!



Flo Triendl first heard of the YCW at a Chicago meeting organised by Catholic Relief Services in 1947.Soon after she founded or re-founded the YCW in her home town of Toledo, Ohio.

In 1948, she went to work in Europe as part of the post-war reconstruction effort. There she came in contact with the Austrian and German YCWs.

Two years later, she took part in the International YCW 25th anniversary celebrations at Braine l’Alleud, Belgium, following which she was recruited to work as a translator at the International Secretariat.

For six years, Flo translated at international YCW bureau meetings as well as at private meetings of Cardijn, Pat Keegan and Marguerite Fiévez.

Following the first International Council and pilgrimage to Rome in August 1957, Flo was asked to go to South Africa and work as an extension worker among the local black community, which she did.

From 1957 to 1961, she worked with Eric Tyacke, Jean Pew and others the YCW expanded from 20 to 100 groups, mostly among the black community and at the height of the apartheid regime.

Afterwards she worked as a community organiser in Durban until 1970.

She then returned to the US where worked as a social worker in Florida until her retirement.

She died on 2 September 2019.


Flo Triendl (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)