Srs Gisela Happ, OSB, Marie-Pascale Dran, OCSO,
Isabelle Desarnaud, OCD


In the dark night of information technology, that is, more or less ten years ago, the internet site of the AIM was simply hosted on the larger site of the Order of St Benedict ( , of which it was one of the headings. One age succeeded another, bringing new technologies and new demands on cybernauts, to the extent that the AIM site achieved its independence and autonomy on 14th December, 2009. No need to go into detail here about the utility of this instrument of communication, for its universal use no longer requires demonstration. There we seek information or points for meditation, and share in projects. There we express our solidarity, our communion with one another. Communities can express what is happening in their lives, so that brothers and sisters can enter into contact with one another to provide help in a thousand different ways.

We propose to run through with you a few of its headings, to make its architecture more familiar to you.

The home page begins with a map of the world, because the AIM is something which includes in its view all the monasteries outside Europe, many of which were born from the old continent. The map is interactive, allowing the viewer to open the page of each continent and to search for each particular monastery.

On the right a little column, frequently updated, gives the titles of the principal special events of the large monastic families, OSB, O.CIST, OCSO, Bernardines of Esquermes, Bernardines of Oudenaarde, etc. Since the flow of RSS details produced by these monastic families could produce technical difficulties and a blockage, we have chosen to update manually most of these current events. A direct link sends the viewer to the corresponding page of the various orders.

At the top of the home page it is possible to click on tabs for the major headings of the site: profile of the AIM, Monastic life, Monastic families, Projects, AIM Bulletin and Contact.

Profile of the AIM: This page gives the elements for understanding the purpose, objectives and functioning of the AIM, the list of members of the international team and some financial assessments of the AIM during the last ten years.

Monastic life: two fundamental choices: the life of St Benedict, edited and illustrated by Sr Véronique Dupont (†) and the text of the Rule of St Benedict (in basic French). Next, several possibilities of consulting a page of applications in the realms of formation, the development of recent foundations (at least, those which have been recent, for this page needs updating). Among the choices is an association which is a member of the AIM, the AMTM (Association des Amis des Monastères du Tiers-Monde=Association of Friends of the Monasteries of the Third World).

Monastic families: All the foundations are listed under the status of the foundation, or at least under the status of independent priory, or abbey. The data for each community would benefit from being updated periodically by the communities themselves if possible, to ensure the accuracy of their location, their status, their responsible personnel, their needs. This would help to keep the information of the site up-to-date. Only at this heading is it possible to click on ‘research’ to find monasteries by continent.

The fact that at present new monastic communities are being founded chiefly from Europe makes us consider putting information on the parent communities on-line as well, since it is principally these communities which have brought these foundations to birth.

Projects: Classified under several categories, these projects detail the needs which new monasteries have communicated to us, whether it be for their buildings, the generation of an income, the environment, their development, the vehicles they need, etc. A brief description of the situation of the community, its work, its geographical and social situation gives an impression – often somewhat coded – of the financial needs of each community.

AIM Bulletin: Another tab gives access to the majority of articles published in the Bulletins since no. 70. Since it reflects forty-three years of experience of the concrete life of the monasteries, the Bulletin is a special place for discussion, formation and shared reflection on the Church and society. Each Bulletin includes three or four major subdivisions: monastic tradition today, Church and society, life of the monasteries and records of various monastic meetings. Articles which are simply a chronicle of the communities are not included in the section of the site on the Bulletin.

Contact: The last tab grants access to the co-ordinates (email and postal addresses, telephone numbers) of members of the international team. It also gives access – certainly far from useless – to the bank details of the AIM, to which the tab ‘support a project’ at the end of each request for aid under the heading ‘Projects’ points.

The site includes pages in English, Portuguese, German, Italian and Spanish, accessible from a tab on the home page. The original language of the site is French, but versions in other languages are being completed gradually as translations reach us, or as we receive original articles in other languages. These are numbered.

For the first year this work was executed by a professional programmer, and since then has been carried on by volunteer nuns who have completed a course of formation and have passed through the unavoidable steps of trial and error which are inevitable in such exact and exacting work.

The photo-gallery is still in its infancy, but could quickly be developed if monasteries were kind enough to send us good (or even excellent!) photographs which could then be digitized in such a way as to make them accessible even in regions where access to the internet is still through slow and unreliable connections. The general secretariat of the AIM would be glad to receive such documents at its postal or email address (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

The financial investment implied by the creation of the AIM site has inevitably been fairly considerable, and we hope that this site will now become a real instrument for communication to make known the development of monastic life outside Europe in the great family of St Benedict. Financial participation by monasteries possessed of significant financial resources could certainly help to reimburse the expenses incurred by the creation of the site during the two years of construction and initiation.

We wish you good surfing on this voyage of discovery about the monasteries, their life and vitality, drawing on the ever-fresh waters of the spring of the spirituality of St Benedict!