Rome Maione was born in Montreal, Canada, to a family of poor Italian immigrants.

The eldest of seven children and an early high school dropout, he worked blue collar jobs with the Canadian Railway (CNR), then RCA Victor, and finally inserting valves into engine blocks at a Ford Motor Company assembly line in the United States.

He joined the YCW in 1948 at the relatively advanced age of 23 but rapidly became a leader.

He often told the story of one of his earliest actions, which was to take his father out to see a movie at a local cinema, an action that transformed their relationship.

Another early action was to attend a union meeting that led to him becoming a shop steward at a plant with 2000 workers.

In 1950, he attended an international training program for the YCW in London and returned home to become national president for the Canadian English-speaking movement in 1954.

Owing to his leadership talents and language skills, the IYCW sent him to Rome in 1956 to prepare for the International Pilgrimage and First International Council of the movement that eventually took place in August – September 1957.

At that Council, he became the first elected international president of the movement, a post he held until 1961.

As international president, he accompanied Cardijn and vice-president Maria Meersman to meet the newly elected Pope John XXIII.

After ending his term with the IYCW, he returned to Canada, he became assistant director of the Social Action Department of the Canadian Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

He subsequently worked for Canadian Labour Congress, the United Steelworkers, the Catholic Organization for Development and Peace and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

In 1979, he chaired a committee to oversee Project 4000, an organization set up by the late mayor, Marian Dewar, to assist 4,000 Vietnamese refugees to settle in Ottawa.

Romeo died in Ottawa on May 12, 2015 aged 90, survived by his wife Betty, four children and eleven grandchildren.

Compiled by Stefan Gigacz


Paul Harris, Romeo Maione (1925-2015) — Social activist influenced labour, government and Catholic Church, (The Ottawa Citizen)

Paul Harris, Maione a giant of Church in Canada (Western Catholic Reporter)

Paul Harris, Romeo Maione: A Modern Prophet (Madonna House)

Obituary (Legacy)


Sebastian Gomes, Few embodied lay leadership in the Canadian church more than Romeo Maione (Salt + Light TV)

Romeo Maione – A remarkable man in remarkable times (Development and Peace)

Mark McGowan, Catholics at the Gathering Place

Brian H. Smith, More Than Altruism: The Politics of Private Foreign Aid

Aid and Ebb Tide: A History of CIDA and Canadian Development Assistance

Brian Buckley, Gift of Freedom

Michael Attridge, Catherine E. Clifford, Gilles Routhier (Eds.), Vatican II: Expériences canadiennes – Canadian experiences