Amis des Monastères à Travers le Monde
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AN INTRODUCTION TO THE AMTM, FRIENDS OF MONASTERIES WORLDWIDE
Who are we?
We are an association (according to the French Law of 1901) whose purpose is to help by our prayer and materially young monasteries observing the Rule of St Benedict, of which many have been founded all over the world, especially in developing countries. In Latin America, Asia and Oceania the number of Benedictine, Cistercian and Trappist monasteries grew from 16 in 1920 to 411 in 2004, and continues to grow at the rate of four or five communities each year.
When and why did AMTM come into being?
In 1959 it became clear to the Benedictine Order that the number of foundations both new and scattered in missionary lands, facing various and often similar problems, justified setting up a monastic centre to help them and co-ordinate such efforts. So in 1961 Abbot Marie de Floris, in the company of abbots from France and elsewhere, was officially charged by the Abbot Primate with setting up the AIM (‘Aid to Monastic Implantation’), which in 1997 became the ‘Alliance Inter Monastères’. The AIM is a monastic association under French Law with an international secretariat devoted to new foundations in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Oceania, and now also Eastern Europe. Its seat is at Vanves in France (92, Hauts-de-Seine), hosted by the Benedictine Sisters of the Priory of Saint Bathilde.
The AIM, which publishes a Bulletin in French, English, Spanish, Italian, German and Portuguese, accepts gifts and distributes funds. It has organised several monastic meetings on different continents. In order to support the monastic secretariat, the AIM, the lay association AMTM, ‘Friends of Monasteries Worldwide’ was set up in 1969, on the initiative of Abbot de Floris. The AMTM today numbers a thousand supporters who are also donors. Three times a year they receive a news bulletin, the ‘Letter to Friends’.
A monastic foundation costs, depending on the place and size of the foundation, between some tens of thousands and several million Euros. Costs of construction are practically as high in Africa as in Europe despite the fact that the standard of living is far lower. For example a cloister wall (essential for security) to surround a Benedictine priory of a little less than two hectares costs €53,000 in East Africa. This requires an enormous commitment from materially more limited supporters to enable a foundation to continue and develop.The AMTM, ‘Friends of Monasteries Worldwide’, has accompanied and encouraged this development for 40 years. The accompaniment occurs in two ways, community of prayer and sending financial help which enables monasteries worldwide to achieve projects which arise for the formation of monks and nuns, the construction of buildings and the purchase of material necessary for the life of the communities.