|Founded by St. Vincent de Paul
VATICAN CITY, 22 MAY 2006 (ZENIT)
Here is the description of
International Association of Charities which appears in the Directory of
International Associations of the Faithful, published by the Pontifical
Council for the Laity.
* * *
Official name: International Association of Charities
Acronym: AIC (Association Internationale des Charites)
History: The AIC dates back to 1617, the year in which St. Vincent de
Paul gathered together a group of women at Châtillion-lesDombes, France,
creating the first attempts to provide assistance to the needy families
in the parish.
It was from this experience that a number of different groups were
created, and rapidly spread throughout Europe and beyond. In order to
encourage the unity of these groups called "Confraternities of the
Ladies of Charity," later to be known as "Charities," the founder laid
down common rules based on the imitation of Jesus Christ, boundless
Gospel-based love, organizing activities, creativity, all designed to
find ever new means of assisting the poor.
Even though the Charities work completely independently in their
respective countries, they are very closely linked by the common
heritage of the Vincentian spirit. It was precisely this bond that led
them to enthusiastically welcome the proposal to set up a federation to
gather together the national movements: This was done in 1971 with the
founding of the International Association of Charities.
It was recognized by the Holy See as a Catholic International
Organization, and is a member of the Conference of International
Catholic Organizations (ICOs).
In its capacity as an NGO, it has consultative status with ECOSOC and
the Council of Europe, and has working relations with UNESCO.
Identity: AIC is concerned with different forms of poverty and
marginalization, and its work is based on the social teaching of the
Church, under the motto "combat poverty working together." The
operational guidelines of the association are set out in a basic
document agreed internationally, committing it to be present in three
dimensions of charity: through individual work, collective action, and
action on structures.
The interpersonal dimension of charity, community action and political
action are therefore experienced in the light of the Gospel. The basic
and specific feature of the Vincentian "style" is the personal meeting
with the poor in their own homes and environments, which demands serious
and continuing formation, based on and nurtured by a relationship with
Christ and witness of life.
The AIC volunteers do not merely meet the physical needs of the poor,
for they also accompany them spiritually and help them to recover their
dignity, hope, self-confidence, and to be re-incorporated into society.
Organization: The AIC is governed by the assembly of delegates which
meets every two years with decision-making powers on major issues such
as the election of officers; the executive council, whose composition
reflects the geographic distribution of the member associations and
which is convened by the president and the secretary-general; the
standing committee, made up of the president, four vice-presidents, the
secretary-general and the treasurer.
AIC has full members, which are associations or federations of
associations from the same country with deliberative vote at the
assembly of delegates; and associate members, which are local
associations or groups of local associations that are not organized at
the national level, with a consultative vote at the assembly; and groups
Contacts between the member associations are maintained by the regional
Membership: AIC has 47 member associations and 10 groups under
formation, and is present in 51 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe,
Middle East, North America, and South America.
Works: The AIC member associations run homes for the elderly, vocational
training schools, and food cooperatives; they organize literacy courses;
they finance the construction of schools; they support projects to give
disadvantaged and deprived groups access to work, and they work in the
field of educating and training marginalized women.
Publications: "AIC Infos," published semiannually
Web site: www.aic-international.org
Association Internationale des Charites
23, Rampe des Ardennais
Tel. (32) 10456353
Fax (32) 10458063
© Copyright 2006
Libreria Editrice Vaticana [adapted]