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AIC Assembly in Châtillon 2017: unforgettable hospitality for many volunteers

For AIC it was a “first” to have volunteers staying with local residents during an International Assembly.

Many AIC volunteers commented how impressed they were by the warm welcome they received and how touched they were by the many exchanges they had, sometimes despite a language barrier:

“Staying in French homes, we experienced such generous, kindly hospitality that we felt thoroughly cossetted!  Our hosts absorbed our 6 member UK delegation into their holiday farmhouse – a wonderful, authentic French experience! Our Spiritual Advisors had a similar welcome in their home. A huge number of local French AIC – Equipes St Vincent (Teams of St Vincent) – volunteers were deployed to prepare and serve our meals, drive us from home to venues and cheerfully and quietly cover our every need.”  (A volunteer from AIC UK)

“For me the Assembly was a new, unique and revelatory experience, full of unforgettable moments, such as being given the AIC Charter in the Church of Saint Andrew, the presence of Saint Vincent’s heart and the wonderful example set by all the volunteers and local residents of Châtillon, welcoming us into their homes, sharing everything with us and collaborating so that the whole Assembly was a success.” (A volunteer from AIC Spain)

“We were there to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the foundation of our groups, with volunteers from 42 different nationalities, which meant there were more than 350 people present. You can imagine what that means in terms of organisation, and I can tell you that everything, from start to finish, was executed perfectly.  Notably, more than 100 families from Châtillon and the surrounding villages had volunteered to accommodate AIC volunteers in their homes; we ourselves stayed with the sweetest couple imaginable.” (A volunteer from AIC France)

On their side, the residents of Chatillon really appreciated the opportunity to meet the volunteers:

“Thank you to all of you for having allowed us to be part of such a big event, which was rich in emotions, sharing and knowledge.  I will remember the evening of prayers for a long time because there were such intense emotions; the hymn to the Virgin sung by so many countries, I cried, all the more because I was at the altar of the Virgin!  Welcoming the volunteers we hosted was a moment of true happiness and I think we will stay in touch, there was something very strong between us, and this thanks to Saint Vincent. I really appreciated the moments where I was able to help out, they gave me the opportunity to meet other people and have other experiences (…), in life it’s amazing to be able to share your faith with so many people from different countries, and the Masses were a joy, even if we didn’t understand everything, we prayed with our sisters from all over the world in order to believe in a better world with a brighter future!!! (…) May St Vincent continue to accompany us with the grace of Heaven for many years to come.” (A resident from Châtillon)

David Barde, President of the 2017 Jubilee Association put it like this: “We can say without false modesty that the spirit of Saint Vincent de Paul was even more present this week in Châtillon-sur-Chalaronne. The AIC volunteers who came from all over the world brought a message of hope, peace and solidarity.  Humbly going about their service towards those living in poverty on a daily basis, we are reminded of a quote from Saint Vincent de Paul:

“The grace of perseverance is the most important of them all, it crowns all other graces.”

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