On 9 June 1960, Cardijn wrote to congratulate Cardinal Fernando Cento, who had just been appointed as the president of the Preparatory Commission on Lay Apostolate.
“I cannot prevent myself from expressing to Your Eminence my very great joy at this remarkable appointment as the head of a Commission which will study what seems to me to be one of the most serious problems for the future of the Church,” Cardijn wrote. “I address my warmest and most warm congratulations to Your Eminence.
Cardijn had known Cardinal Cento since his time as nuncio in Belgium. Indeed, Cento had assisted Cardijn and the JOC when the movement faced criticism at the time of the holding of its 25th anniversary rally and international congress in Brussels in 1950.
Cento was thus also certainly very aware of Cardijn’s key role in the negotiations leading up to and including the holding of the First World Congress on Lay Apostolate in Rome in 1951.
Cento’s appointment must therefore have come as a great encouragement to Cardijn. Moreover, it meant that Cardijn’s longstanding Vatican nemesis, Cardinal Giuseppe Pizzardo, was not in charge.
Cardijn evidently wanted to assist as far as he was able. Yet even at the age of 77, he continued to undertake a punishing travel schedule. As he explained to Cento: “I also take this opportunity to let Your Eminence know the program of my trip to Africa. I intend to visit a large number of countries, but above all to attend the Pan-African Congress and the National and Regional Congresses of the YCW in the Belgian Congo.”
But he confirmed his later availability: “I will be back by the end of October or soon after and if I can give Your Eminence some collaboration in studying one or the other issue (e.g. the apostolate of working youth), I will be very happy to be able to place myself at His disposal for the work of the Commission.”
All things considered, it was a relatively promising beginning for the Commission.