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Training in Latin America: “Accompanying others: How and why?”

AIC training: A Latin American initiative to train Lay Spiritual Advisors to accompany groups of AIC volunteers.

From 19th-21st March, 63 people from 16 countries (45 AIC volunteers, 13 Daughters of Charity and 5 Priests from the Congregation of the Mission) had the chance to participate in the AIC Training Seminar on the theme “Accompanying others: How and why?” in Cochabamba in Bolivia.

This initiative was born out of the realisation that the number of consecrated Spiritual Advisors (Priests and Sisters) is constantly diminishing and the conviction that it is essential to find other ways to accompany local groups of AIC volunteers.

Faced with this reality, the Latin American Continental Coordination team wanted to offer volunteers from this continent the possibility of getting training to be able to guide the groups in a holistic way in accordance with Vincentian spirituality, promoting the creation of fraternal communities among volunteers so they can offer a better service to the most disadvantaged people.

More specifically, this Seminar aimed to achieve three objectives:

  • To raise awareness of the need to count on lay spiritual advisors to accompany local groups.
  • To provide the basic tools for the accompaniment of groups, using Christ, St Vincent, St Louise and some great Biblical figures like Moses and Ruth as models.
  • To create a systematic training process to strengthen the work of lay spiritual advisors over the next 3 years.

All the participants agreed that this meeting was a wonderful experience of sharing and faith.  In just three days, it was of course only possible to cover some aspects of the training.  However, the skill and especially the profoundly Vincentian charism of the speakers, combined with the active participation of everyone present, all in a wonderful spirit of fraternal communion, inspired many participants to commit to following this path and gave everyone new enthusiasm and renewed hope to pursue the mission entrusted to them of supporting the most disadvantaged people.

As one participant said, “We are not just leaving with more knowledge. We are also leaving enriched and revitalised thanks to an unforgettable human experience that has deeply transformed us”.

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