MJ Ruben: Fr. Thomas Joseph, you have been involved in the YCW and other Cardijn movements for the past 60 years right from 1953 and you are fortunate enough to have met Cardijn on quite a few occasions. Can you tell us about your impressions on Cardijn especially now since there is a demand for his canonization all over the world. Can you talk to us Father?
Father Thomas Joseph: It was very fortunate for me that when I was on the way to Europe, the Archbishop of Colombo gave me the address of Cardijn and he told me make sure you see him when you are in Europe. I would have missed him but for the step I received from the Archbishop. When I wrote a letter (to Cardijn) that I would like to meet him I received a reply that you are most welcome, you can come any time.
So the first morning I went there, I took the trouble of going to Belgium and met him. I must say first thing that he was so excited that I met him. He said I would like to go to India, come with me, let us go to India. I told him my holidays are short and I won’t be able to go with him now. Then he said when you come back I will tell you/reply. That was my first meeting together. First of all I must tell you he was so excited and he said he will have a visit to India to build a movement for the whole country. I met him afterwards and he told me Madras will be the place where we will have a movement beginning. He said he has received a good reception in Madras and it has begun in that year.
Again I met him in Rome when there was a first international meeting. I was impressed by the way he met people. It was at Romos Mane where we were accommodated. At the corridor, he was speaking to a young man, a young worker from Africa and an Archbishop came and he wanted to see him (Cardijn). He said: "Excuse me your Grace, I can meet you afterwards. It is the young man I am speaking to; and I can come and see you afterwards. It is so important that I must spend my time with him." I was so impressed about the interest he has shown and he did not bother about the Archbishop or anybody. The young worker was more important for him.
Again I met him for a training program and I was a student in England. It was a program for the chaplains. He was so active in that. I was glad to see him. The next time I met him was in Madras. And I was at that time a teacher in industrial relations-full time it was. The he asked me will you kindly give up this and take up YCW. I said I would willingly do it if only my bishop allows. And both of us met the Archbishop (Louis Mathias) and the Archbishop willingly said "Ok, you are relieved and the institution (Industrial Relations) will be passed on to Loyola College". With that I began my life with Cardijn movements. I was impressed by the enthusiasm he had for the building (up) of the movement to (benefit) the young workers of India. Ok.