The International Assembly of AIC Delegates ended on March 24 with the election of a new Executive Board 2023-2026, which will be chaired by Tayde de Callataÿ. In her first speech after her election, Tayde expressed her gratitude for the trust placed in her. She also emphasized her optimism about the future of AIC, not only thanks to the Vincentian charisma and the Holy Spirit guiding the association, but also thanks to AIC volunteers’ extraordinary creativity and ability to adapt to the many crisis situations encountered in the field.
A unique opportunity to learn from one another
The joy of meeting each other in person again was palpable for the 150 delegates from 31 associations who gathered to celebrate the XXII AIC International Assembly in Frascati, near Rome in Italy, from March 21 to 24, 2023. Indeed, as the previous Assembly had been cancelled because of the pandemic, and lockdowns had not allowed face-to-face meetings to be held, contacts over the past 3 years have mostly taken place remotely.
In such a context, the 2023 Assembly proved particularly enriching, with volunteers sharing their experience, exchanging views, and celebrating their cultural diversity. The theme of the Assembly was “Citizens of the world, walking united in hope”. Several participants expressed how amazed they were to see the breadth of such an international network and the variety of actions set up by AIC volunteers all over the world in order to support people in need.
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle did us the great honor of celebrating the solemn opening mass. The 4 presentations of Father Gabriel Naranjo Salazar, CM, Spiritual Advisor for AIC Colombia, guided the volunteers’ reflection on topics such as sustainable development, networking, the path towards an effective charity, as well as actions to address different forms of poverty caused by the pandemic and other current crises.
AIC associations from different continents presented more than 20 projects they had implemented dealing with these topics, allowing participants to learn more about good practices in different contexts. “I had never left my country and I knew nothing about international work,” a volunteer from Panama tells us. “I learned about all the things other AIC associations are doing and I find it really wonderful.”
Throughout group discussions, volunteers reflected on what had struck them and what actions they wanted to take when returning to their country. A volunteer from Cameroon explains that one idea particularly struck her: the fact that “you have to take care of the Earth in order to take care of people living in poverty”. When going back home, she now wants to set up activities fostering sustainable development.
During an outing to the Vatican, the Outgoing President Rose de Lima Ramanankavana got to briefly greet Pope Francis at the end of the public audience attended by all participants. A visit to St. Peter’s Basilica was also scheduled afterwards.
Participants gained a lot from the presentations and discussions with volunteers from different countries. Many stated how much they had learned from the meeting and how much it had helped them renew their commitment to people living in poverty. A volunteer from the United States tells us she was inspired by “the humility and simplicity shown by some of the ladies from all over the world, the triumphs that they’ve actually overcome and the spirit of love that we’ve all shared.”
After days filled with discussions and reflection, festive and folkloric evenings showcased handicrafts from different countries and celebrated dances, songs and traditional wear.
Preparing the future of AIC
One of the key outcomes of the Assembly was the definition of new Priority Lines of Action, which will guide all AIC associations during the period 2023-2026. As a result of group work among volunteers, the following Priority Lines of Action were chosen:
- Rooting ourselves in the Vincentian charism
- Moving forward together
- Being open to and welcoming the change that is essential to get through crisis situations
During the Statutory Assembly, AIC-Laos was elected as a new full-rights AIC member, and AIC-India was accepted as a new AIC group in-the-making.
The new Executive Board was then elected, with Tayde de Callataÿ (AIC-Belgium) as International President and Guillermina Vergara Macip (AIC-Mexico) and Milagros Galisteo Moya (AIC-Spain) as Vice-Presidents. The 7 other Board members are: Gloria Amparo Benítez (AIC-Colombia), Josephine Edun (AIC-UK), Florence Odile Enganeben (AIC-Cameroon), Suzanne Johnson (AIC-USA), Lisette Maillet (AIC-France), Lucía Inés Sánchez (AIC-Argentina), Melba Vera Cruz (AIC-Philippines).
We wish the new Board all the best in fulfilling its mission! And a big thank you to participants from all continents, to the AIC Italy team for hosting us, and to the interpreters for facilitating the discussions in English, French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese!
EWTN video interview with Suzanne Johnson, USA Coordinator of the AIC Executive Board: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5BeSfgYskI
Vincentian Family article on the election of Tayde de Callataÿ, AIC President : https://famvin.org/en/2023/03/27/tayde-de-callatay-new-president-of-aic-the-oldest-lay-association-in-the-history-of-volunteering/
Vatican News article on the election of Tayde de Callataÿ (in Italian) : https://www.vaticannews.va/it/chiesa/news/2023-03/assemblea-frascati-associazione-internazionale-carita-presidente.html