A witness for justice

The twelve Apostles, St Paul, St John the Baptist (the Gospel today is of his beheading), and St Maximilian Kolbe are examples of individuals who gave up their lives to witness their faith. 

The Young Christian Worker (YCW) movement has also produced its fair share of martyrs. The brothers Andre and Roger Vallee and Daniel Antero are among them. The Joseph Cardijn Digital Library lists individuals from the YCW or related to YCW who have died in witnessing their faith. 

There are martyrs, and there are those who live faithful lives every day without the need to be a martyr. We are all called to be a witness. And courage and bravery – witnessing for justice – can occur in ordinary life.

We witness the faith when:

  • We stand up for a family member, friend, colleague or community member who is being bullied or hurt.
  • We call out inappropriate behaviour by family, friends, colleagues, or community members. 
  • We hold ourselves and our leaders accountable.  


Injustice is a feature of human nature, primarily due to power imbalance. Powerful people often disregard the rights of those weaker than themselves.  

How do we respond to injustice? How do we strive for justice? How do we witness our faith?


Today’s Gospel passage is about injustice. We read how St John the Baptist – who Jesus Himself said was a great man – was beheaded by King Herod because of an oath Herod had made to the daughter of Herodias, who hated John the Baptist because he was pointing out her and Herod’s wrongdoing.

This is St John the Baptist, who we read, baptising Jesus some days ago. St John the Baptist accepted this without a complaint. He had prepared himself for this time.  

The YCW members who were martyrs did not use violence. They were prepared.


Will I be prepared to peacefully stand up for what I believe in, like the Valle brothers? 

Will I be prepared to peacefully stand up for what I believe in, like Daniel Antero?

Daniel Esquivel Antero, a lay jocist martyr

Daniel Esquivel Antero was born on 3 January, 1945 in Quyquyó (Republic of Paraguay).

As a teenager, he became a member of the YCW. In February 1970 he emigrated to Buenos Aires in search of steady work, settling in the area of ​​Villa Fiorito, where he worked as a construction worker, a painter, and as an electrician.

Along with other young compatriots, he founded a YCW for Paraguayan Immigrants. Soon after at Easter 1970, he encouraged and promoted the foundation of the Paraguayan Ministry Team in Argentina (PPA).

A biographer wrote of him:

His humble and dignified poverty did not prevent him from sharing what he had and bringing a message of hope to those who needed it. Many times he experienced the pain and embarrassment of destitution or even being assaulted many times, sometimes violently. But nothing dented his daily dedication to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in his devotion to the Virgin of Miracles Caacupé, patron saint of Paraguay, nor in serving the poor and needy.

Daniel lived the last years of his life in the diocese of Lomas de Zamora.

On 1 February, 1977 he was snatched from his home during the violence that engulfed Argentina during that period.

A few days later, the then Bishop, Monsignor Desiderio Collino Elso publicly denounced Daniel’s disappearance in his Lenten pastoral letter read in all parishes and churches in the Diocese of Lomas de Zamora,

We remember Daniel and his dedication to young workers.

Reflection author

Stefan Gigacz


Daniel Esquivel Antero (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)