The history of Aim

1957:  With the Encyclical Fidei Donum Pope Pius XII calls Christians to work assiduously for the spreading of the faith. Monks and nuns reply enthusiastically to this appeal.

1959:  The Congress of Benedictine abbots meeting in Rome proposes the creation of a centre of information and coordination for implanting monastic life in mission lands. Dom Benno Gut, the Abbot Primate, encourages the creation of a Secretariat. Abbot Tholens of Slangenburg and Abbot Guesquiere of Zevenkerken together with Abbot de Floris form a group to study the project. The latter moves into the Priory of St Bathilde at Vanves and there creates together with Sr Maura Esquerré the beginnings of the Secretariat.

1961:  The Abbot Primate officially sets up the Secretariat for the Missions with the name “Aide à l’Implantation monastique”. This is confirmed at Ligugé on the occasion of the feast of St Martin. Dom Sortais OCSO, Abbot General of the Cisterciens, supports the project. On 15th December an association is set up under French law to give juridical support to the Secretariat under the control of an administrative council. Donations are received for fondations in Africa and an informative bulletin comes into existence. En 1962 the Synod of Benedictine Presidents confirms the  work of AIM until the next Abbots’ Congress in 1966.

1964:  A panafrican monastic meeting takes place at Bouake on the Ivory Coast.

1966:  The Abbots’ Congress approves the creation of the Secretariat of AIM for Africa and extends its activity to Latin America and Asia. In 1967 Sr Pia Valeri OSB replaces Sr Maura Esquerré, while Dom Paul Gordan OSB, General Secretary of the Benedictine Confederation, joins the administrative Council of AIM. The Cisterciens of the Strict Observance are also represented by a delegate of the Abbot General.

1968:  The first panasian monastic meeting takes place at Bangkok (Thailand). The following year the Bulletin is published in English. In France a group of lay people found an association to support the work of AIM.

1972:  A Latin American monastic meeting takes place at Rio de Janeiro, followed in 1973 by a second panasiatic meeting at Bangalore (India). A secretariat of AIM is founded in the USA.

1974: AIM  develops its interest for Monastic Interreligious Dialogue (DIM-MID).

1975 : A second Latin American monastic meeting takes place at Bogota (Colombia).

1976:  AIM changes its name to “Aide Inter Monastères”.

1978:  In the USA and at Paris there are meetings of DIM-MID.

1979-1980:  Two international monastic meetings take place, the first at Abidjan (Ivoiry Coast), the second at Kandy (Sri-Lanka).

1982:  Fr Marie-Bernard de Soos OSB replaces Abbot de Floris, who retires due to ill-health. AIM is given a set of internal regulations that confirm its organisation, purpose, activities and relationship with the Benedictine Confederation and the Cistercian Orders. The first edition of the AIM Bulletin comes out in Spanish.

1984:  At the AIM Secretariat Sr Thérèse Rodrigues OSB replaces Sr Pia Valeri, who in turn is replaced by Sr Alma Pedri in 1996. Then in 1997 Sr Alma is replaced by  Mme Mazzoni, followed by another layman..

1994:  DIM-MID becomes an independent organisation and Fr Pierre de Béthune OSB appointed General Secretary until his retirement in 2007 when Fr William Skudlarek OSB succeeds him. A link between AIM and DIM-MID is maintained especially through publications and reciprocal invitations to their annual meetings.

1997: Following the retirement of Fr Bernard de Soos, Abbot Primate Marcel Rooney, with other members, restructures AIM in order to adapt and strengthen its service to the monastic world. Fr Martin Neyt OSB becomes President of AIM and is responsible to a Council which meets annually. Various members, representing the three Orders, make up the Executive Committee. This follows closely all the activities of AIM and meets twice a year, particularly to monitor the distribution of funds. Fr Jacques Côté OSB is appointed General Secretary with residence in Rome. AIM changes its name to “Alliance Inter Monastères”. Mutual exchanges between continents continue to develop and increase.

2001: Sr Gisela Happ OSB begins work at the AIM Secretariat at Vanves. Later she is appointed General Secretary and Vanves becomes the definitive headquarters of AIM International, using part of the Priory of St Bathilde. In 2004 a new internal regulation confirms the reformed structures put into effect in 1997.

2006: AIM sets up a Study Centre at Vanves, in the Priory of St Bathilde, to receive young sisters  who come to Paris from Africa, Asia and Latin America to continue their studies. AIM is now at the  service of over 450 communities spread throughout the world. Since the appeal of  Pope Pius XII in 1957, 4 or 5 new communities have come into being each year. On the other hand the number of monks and nuns in many large monasteries continues to decrease.