Mass at the Catacombs

On Saturday 21 October, ACI, the Cardijn Cardijn Community and the two YCW Internationals (IYCW and ICYCW) hosted a special mass at the St Domitilla Catacombs to celebrate the memory of Blessed Enrique Angelelli and Jose Serapio (Pepe) Palacio, the co-founders of the YCW in the Diocese of Cordoba, Argentina.

This year also marks the centenary of the birth of both men, who were born in 1923.

Both were also killed by the military during Spain’s Dirty War in 1975 and 1976. As a result, Amalia, Pepe’s wife, also a former YCW leader, was left alone to raise their children.

Celebrating the memorial Mass were Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, Bishops Shane Mackinlay (Sandhurst, Australia), Bishop Dante Braida (La Rioja, Argentina), Fr Clarence Devadass (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), and Mgr Josef Sayer (Germany).

Mass participants included Synod subsecretary, Sr Nathalie Becquart, Clémence Otekpo (ICYCW), Basma Louis (IYCW), Stefan Gigacz (ACI), Kris Kummari (International Catholic Rural Youth – MIJARC), former ACI president, Brian Lawrence and others.

Pepe Palacio

Pepe, a trade union leader, was active for many years with the YCW and also with the Christian Workers Movement. He had only recently been elected as the first lay collaborator (chaplain) of the International YCW and he had only recently returned to Argentina from Bogota, Colombia, where he took part in a Workers Meeting organised by the IYCW before he “disappeared.”

Amalia Palacio

Amalia Castano de Palacio

In another kind of martyrdom, Amalia, Pepe’s wife was left to raise their family alone. She died without ever finding out what had happened to her husband. Years later after the end of the dictatorship, their son, Jose Luis, was able to confirm his death at the hands of the military from information in the national archives.

Bishop Enrique Angelelli (left) with local people

Enrique Angelelli

As well as being a YCW chaplain, Enrique Angelelli was also a chaplain to the students movement, the JUC. And as a bishop in La Rioja, he worked closely with leaders from the rural Specialised Catholic Action movements.

Bishop Angelelli was also an original signatory of the Pact of the Catacombs adopted by Vatican II bishops, who wished to commit themselves to the poor and to the poor. Their pact was inspired by Joseph Cardijn’s consecration to the working class in 1903.

He was killed while returning from a mass in homage to two fellow priests, the Franciscan Carlos Murias and the French fidei donum priest, Gabriel Longueville.


Catacombs Mass (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

The Mass

Pepe & Amalia Palacio

Enrique Angelelli

Pact of the Catacombs