School leavers

The fate and destiny of young workers was Cardijn’s lifelong concern.

And so he also emphasised the importance of the transition of young people from school to work.

Education and the School-Leaver

(Reprinted from New Life, May-June, 1957.)


Young workers, like all others, are destined to the glorious life of heaven and to eternal happiness. This eternal destiny is the supreme end of their life, the source and the basis of all their rights and of all their duties; this is the essential truth which must enlighten and guide the whole of the earthly life of the young workers.

The development of their intelligence, the formation of their wills, training for their job or profession, the preparation and founding of a family are the means willed by Providence for their personal protection and for their social mission. In the fulfilment of their temporal destiny, the young workers should be the conscious and free collaborators of the Creator and the Redeemer. Their temporal welfare and their eternal happiness depend essentially on this.


Learning to know and to love this temporal and eternal destiny — that is the task of the Christian education which the young workers should receive.

The task falls first to the parents; it is the basis of their authority over their children.

Parents must he able to obtain by their work the resources necessary for this mission of education.

Parents should be aided by the school which must be the collaborator and not the substitute of families in the work of the Christian education children. A neutral school education cannot satisfy thh demand. It will he inevitably irreligious and against the family.

It is for the Church to make known to parents and teachers the demands of this Christian education and to create the necessary institutions for its accomplishment.

This Christian education does not finish with the period of school. it must be given to young workers as to all other young people during their adolescence and their youth, which are par excellence the axe of true education,


The action of the Y.C.W, with those beginning work must begin it year before they leave school. At this time all the Y.CW. sections should get to know all the young people of their locality who are beginning their last year at school.

In our own schools the list can he obtained by an approach to the headmaster or teacher concerned. In other schools other means may have to be sought.

Collaboration with the teaching personnel should be a constant pre-occupation with chaplains and Y.C.W. Committees.

Teachers who take the last-year in school, if they are won and helped by the Y.C.W., can orientate all their teaching towards the life of work. Lessons and responsibilities given can be based and related to the problems which the lads and girls will soon have to        meet. Collaboration with the families of the school-leavers should be sought as much as possible, by visits to their homes and parents’ meetings.

One or two good leaders of the section should be given the responsibility of recruiting and grouping the lads or girls in the last-year at school and these meetings of the school-leavers should be quite distinct from the ordinary Y.C.W. meetings. The school-leavers’ meetings follow the programme outlined in the Pre-Y.C.W. booklets and should be simple, enthusiastic and friendly affairs, and not too long. The programme of meetings should include recreative events and activities adapted to the particular group.

They should be inspired from the start with the spirit of conquest and they can be trained in a concrete fashion, through useful tasks and real responsibilities, such as the sale of the magazine and acts of service in the neighbourhood.

Outings, games and general meetings specially for the school- leavers, build up the bonds of friendship in the group and provide the leaders with useful opportunities of contact and influence.


Concrete initiation into the life of work supposes contact with the latter. Those beginning work should be able to know ahead what is a factory, a work-shop, or an office. They should have a chance of forming and expressing their impressions and building up ideas and sentiments which will stand them in good stead when they are actually working in these places later.

Moreover, in the right choice of a job or profession, the choice and taste of the boy or girl is an important element. This demands that they have at least had the chance of seeing people working in the different trades or occupations among which they will have to make their choice.

Leaders will, of course, need to accompany the school-leavers in these visits, to places of work and the groups should be fairly small, to allow for the attention of all being directed to the essentials of the visit and for discussion and questions.

Later in their group meeting their comments and remarks will give plenty of opportunity for building up a right altitude and conviction towards the life of work.

It is the task of local and regional Pre-Y.C.W. leaders to organise and prepare these visits.


Entry into work is a great event in the life of young people. To inspire all concerned parents and the rest, with the sense of this, every section should organise during the course of the year a series of school-leavers’ meetings. All the members of the section should be associated with these, for their own formation and renewal.

Details of these meetings will vary. Smaller sections may need to get together to run a joint event. Besides the actual meetings, with demonstrations and discussions between the young workers and school-leavers, there should be religious ceremonies, with instruction on the Christian meaning and supernatural value of work and a special Mass and Communion.



Joseph Cardijn, Education and the school-leaver, in The Catholic Action Chaplain 1957 Vol. 2 N° 3A, p. 14 – 16.



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