ACI secretary, Stefan Gigacz, will present our April webinar marking the 150th anniversary of the birth on 3 April 1873 of Marc Sangnier, founder of the French democratic movement, Le Sillon, which had such a great influence on Cardijn and the YCW.
Deeply impressed by Sangnier’s movement, young Cardijn would later describe it as “the greatest surge of faith and apostolate that France has known since the Revolution.”
Welcoming Sangnier to Brussels in 1921, Cardijn lamented the closure of the movement in 1910 after Pope Pius X called on its leaders to resign and explicitly linked himself and his work to the Sillon’s heritage.
“The winds of the air and the birds of the sky carry off this seed and deposit it sometimes far away, in a field where God’s dew fertilises and multiplies it,” he told Sangnier.
The emerging YCW and other Specialised Catholic Action movements were the fruit of this inspiration with many early movement chaplains formed by the Sillon’s “method of democratic education,” which would provide the basis for Cardijn’s see-judge-act method of formation.
The Sangnier and Sillon influence also extended to the YCW’s sister movements, which would become known as the “Specialised Catholic Action” movements.
Across the Atlantic, Dorothy Day’s Catholic Worker also drew inspiration from the Sillon through her co-founder and mentor, Peter (Pierre) Maurin, who had also belonged to Marc Sangnier’s movement.
In 1950, Holy See nuncio, Angelo Roncalli, the future Pope John XXIII, would characterise Marc Sangnier as the greatest influence on his early priesthood.
Listen to the story of this remarkable man and his movement at our April webinar on Saturday 15 April.