John W. Casey has passed away

Date: 15 August 2017

John Casey
John Casey
John Casey

John W. Casey was born 18. September 1938 in Chicago, Illinois, USA. He earned both a Bachelors Degree and a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Loyola University in Chicago.

John W. Casey has had a profound impact on the YMCA movement, both as the president of the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago and then as the secretary general of the World Alliance of YMCAs where he was able to act on his unique global passion and vision for the YMCA movement.

John W.  Casey served Chicago YMCA for more than 20 years and was the President, CEO from 1982 to 1991. After bringing the Chicago Y from financial peril, Casey went on to serve the World Alliance of YMCAs in Geneva, Switzerland, as secretary general. This was a significant honor in the history of the YMCA movement as he was the first Roman-Catholic and first local YMCA executive to ever hold the post, as well as being the first American in that post in 35 years.

When his term of office ended in 1998,he could see two major processes successfully coming to their final stages and giving very important results for the future of the world movement of YMCAs. The first process he initiated together with the volunteer leadership of those days, was the Mission Review Process, giving the world movement a newly formulated mission statement called Challenge 21. This was finally passed at the World Council in Frechen, Germany, in 1998.

At the same World Council the so called Organization Review Process came to its final stage and delivered very tangible results helping the YMCA world wide to reorganize the top level of the organization in ways creating favorable working conditions for Area Organizations, National Movements and the World Alliance of YMCAs itself. Double membership of National YMCAs in the World Alliance as well as in the Area Alliances and the Principle of Subsidiarity later led to the development of the Governance Policy Agreement and the Global Operating Plan for Movement Strengthening.

John W. Casey’s experienced management skills led him to establish the Inter Movement Support System and in this way he distributed considerable sums of money to the development work in the Area Organizations. As responsible for the YMCA Europe development work in former communist Europe at that time, I remember how important this support system was for the reemerging YMCAs of Eastern Europe.

John W. Casey travelled extensively and always highlighted the need for a stronger influence of young people in the organization.

In 2013 he very deservedly was inducted in the YMCA Hall of Fame.

Only a few days ago I received the last letter from John. He was commenting on my recent meeting with UN leaders in Geneva and the new platform together with the Big6 to engage with the UN SDGs. Until the last days of his life John was fully engaged in the work of the World Alliance of YMCAs, and we exchanged messages and letters intensively for years. John always gave generously of his precious time and his letters were always crystal clear, convincing in his argumentation and often with a great sense of humor.

John was a dear friend of mine and today I received the message about his passing with great sadness. Having served in this position he knew all aspects of the job, and I had great pleasure in sharing both experiences and future plans with John.
John W. Casey’s positive influence in the world movement of YMCAs cannot be over- estimated.

The YMCA movement in USA and in the world has lost an outstanding leader.

I have lost a great friend.

Today our thoughts and prayers are with John’s wife, Pat, and the whole family.

May he rest in the peace and love of Christ.

Rev Johan Vilhelm Eltvik