Adhere: Reasons for a choice (Torino, 2007)

Why adhere to the Federation Ars et Fides?
Reasons for a choice

Text presented and discussed at the General Assembly,
Torino (IT) – 29.4.2007

It is normal that associations regularly raise questions of identity, asking especially if their existence continues to have sense.

The Problem

Our Federation does not escape this essential question. Individual member groups must not only to be able to confirm their adherence to the principles of Ars et Fides (recently certain associations, especially out of France, have in fact left us), but the Federation itself needs to attract new member-associations, beginning with those which, after an initial contact, remain unenthusiastic about Ars et Fides.

Superficially, it might seem that the purpose of our Federation is simply to organize a beautiful succession of sessions, every two years, in places of great spiritual and cultural interest where we are received in a friendly way by a local association, member of Ars et Fides. Yet even on these occasions representatives of certain member associations are consistently absent.

A reminder of our objectives and needs

Actually we are all aware that our Federation is not a travel agency. It is there, above all,  to allow the meeting of representatives of associations coming from religious sites deeply different in their historical features, style and intended ‘public’ (cathedrals, basilicas, abbeys, parish churches, private chapels) in national and cultural areas (seven countries, six languages) of very different size and structure. Despite these differences, all the member-associations in the Federation share the objectives and needs defined in our Charter of Angers (1988) and our Resolution of Chartres (1995), summarized below:

  • Shared objectives:
    • our associations are open Christian communities, made up of volunteers who  welcome visitors and present a given ecclesiastical monument in its three dimensions: historic, artistic and Christian;
    • our associations serve the given religious site, seeking to communicate its  heart –its authentic spirit, the message of its stones, the experience of the faith-community for which it was first created.
  • Shared needs:
    • our associations, often isolated or too focused on their own beautiful monument, want to know similar groups in comparable sites, to be helped by, and to help, one another;
    • our associations want to be enriched through shared reflection, training, pedagogical methods, recruitment and exchange of guides.

Some achievements worth mentioning

As stated in the our booklet in several languages presenting Ars et Fides, the Federation offers a platform of exchange, particularly at the moment of our common sessions, which always reserve a significant block of time for shared reflection and dialogue.

As those who have attended such sessions know, Federation-wide meetings help develop friendly relations within our shared home, Europe, and help weave a true network of member groups. Concrete forms of Ars et Fides networking include:

  • contacts between associations of the same area (for example Tours and Angers, Reims and Paris);
  • reciprocal visits at the time which we are happy to profit from a privileged reception;
  • launching ARC projects with young people in Bordeaux and Tours in particular;
  • routing requests for information addressed to the secretariat of the Federation, which in turn retransmits them to associations concerned with candidatures of guides and specific requests for action;
  • exchanges of documents among associations;
  • translation of folders and booklets in several European languages.

Finally, we wish to underline a permanently useful, rich and available service that the modern techniques of communication offer: the Ars et Fides internet site, whose rich potential has yet to be explored.

  • it can still be enriched thanks to all the good ideas which abound in our associations; the only constraint is to communicate them to our secretary.
  • it provides various Ars et Fides texts, including an account of the discussion conducted at the preceding annual meeting;
  • it names all our associations with an automatic link for those who do have an Internet site;
  • it contains news of the Federation but also of individual associations with something to communicate, particularly those which do not yet have their own internet site;
  • it is presented in our six languages;

Future strategies

The ideas presented in this text issued by the Federation’s central committee or ‘Bureau’ reflect questions raised by many member-groups. There seems to be general agreement that in future Ars et Fides should:

  • Seek to reactivate « dormant » associations and urge them to come to the ordinary and extraordinary general sessions;
  • incite associations to envisage several representatives so as not to put  the whole burden of maintaining contact on the shoulders of only one person, always the same;
  • seek to call back associations which recently have left up Ars et Fides –we should not lose hope !
  • take up again the idea of an established association sponsoring a « new » group wishing to enter the Federation;
  • renew contact with individuals or associations encountered in the course of a site-visit or which have written inquiring about the Federation;
  • program contacts or meetings or exchanges between member associations apart from our spring sessions;
  • designate a member of the central committee or ‘Bureau’ to be responsible for reviving lapsed contacts and encouraging the  adhesion of member associations;
  • invite to one or two of the central committee meetings in Paris a person from one of our member associations to help in this task (a possibility envisaged in the statutes);
  • cultivate among member groups a sense of direct responsibility for the mission of Ars et Fides, encouraging those we may find guiding in places we visit and the local clergy and to consider joining our Federation.

Bernard QUENTIN, Bureau member
Translation: Mons. T. Verdon

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