THE JUBILEE OF THE AIM (1961-2011)
P. Martin Neyt
President of the AIM
This year 2011 marks a happy coincidence: the AIM is celebrating fifty years of activity, and simultaneously the Bulletin is presenting its hundredth issue. Both are sources of joy and thanksgiving for everything achieved since the beginnings. To demonstrate this we take the opportunity to revisit the special evidence of several important moments which have occurred in the course of the history of the AIM. The humble beginnings were put in place by the Abbot of Floris, OSB, the Colloquium of Bouaké (1964), the great meetings with the monks of the East (Bangkok in 1968, Bagalore in 1973, Kandy in 1980) and other meetings in Latin America and Asia. There was also the birth of the Interreligious Monastic Dialogue (DIM) at the heart of the AIM, before the DIM, which has been such a source of sacred hospitality and the exchanges which have been such a feature of our age, became autonomous under the leadership of P. Pierre de Béthune, OSB, and currently Fr William Skudlarek, OSB. We must mention also the breadth of the work undertaken by P. Marie-Bernard de Soos (1982-1996) and the more recent development of the Secretariat under the guidance of Sr Gisela Happ, OSB, and Sr Placid Dolores, OSB.
In the case of the Bulletin no exhaustive history is needed, but for those who would like to review these fifty years in depth, a work is in progress. Furthermore, to celebrate worthily all the graces received which have marked the monastic expansion across the world, and all the links forged between monasteries, a great commemorative meeting is due to occur at the birth-place of the AIM, the Abbey of Ligugé. Our readers will be glad to know that the AIM has produced a film for widespread diffusion in partnership with the KTO chain, which will be in charge of diffusing the production.
To return to the present Bulletin, the articles pick out several strong points of the service offered by the AIM: the accompaniment of communities by listening, dialogue, discernment, financial help and the links which are slowly being established between communities. Thus the International Communion of Benedictine Women (CIB) was set up, consisting of a network of spiritually-inspired communication designed to promote feminine monastic life in the twentieth century. In an exceptional article the new President, Sr Judith Ann Heble, OSB, outlines the history and objectives of this joining-up. In 2011 the CIB celebrates ten years of unity at the same time as the fifty years of the AIM.
‘The most important factor,’ said the previous Abbot Primate, Marcel Rooney, OSB, ‘is the structures which lead to the love of God and of our neighbour.’ The regional groupings which have been gradually developed on several continents have contributed to the enrichment of mutual communion. The work is far from complete, and must make further progress in many places, Central Africa, the Great Lakes and elsewhere. Benedictine monasteries, whose roots go back before the schisms in the Church, have made it their objective to build bridges to Orthodoxy and Protestantism. In the United States two monasteries of women, Holy Wisdom in the suburbs of Madison, Wisconsin, and The Dwelling-Place at Martin in the mountains of East Kentucky, follow the Benedictine Rule and welcome into their community all the traditions of the universal Church. The links they have set up represent a real work of the Holy Spirit in our time.
The subjects mentioned here are offered as a humble evidence of the number and diversity of bridges built between different elements, outstanding witnesses to the richness and ebullient life of the monastic world.