2015 AMI activity

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December 16, 2015 – MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR 2016!
Merry Chritmas
This picture I took on Puig de Randa/Mallorca in the “Santuario de Nostra Señora de Cura”, when I was on the island for cycling.
The Presidency and the Secretary General of AMI wish you all MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR 2016!
May Christ will bring peace to all soldiers, their families and all trouble spots worldwide. We will pray for peace and justice!

Next year we concentrate on our upcoming conference in the Netherlands!


November 11-12, 2015 – Visit of the AMI-President and Secretary-General at the Vatican
Rome 1 Rome 2

Wednesday and Thursday, 11 and 12 November 2015 the AMI-president MajGen Norbert Sinn and his Secretary General Nelleke Swinkels-van de Vorst as well as vice-secgen Chief Chaplain (ret) Jan van Lieverloo travelled to Rome and the Vatican to inform the for AMI most important bodies, about the developments of last year.

We had meetings at the Council for Justice and Peace, the Council for the Laity and the State Secretariat.

A quick visit and courtesy call with Padre Cerchietti from the Congregation for Bishops and the Council for Culture were possible, as well as courtesy call to His Royal Highness Prince Jaime of the Netherlands, Dutch ambassador to the Holy See.

We handed over our AMI jubilee-book and talked about the contents of the conference in Santiago de Compostela. Furthermore our newly gained status as an NGO was on the agenda and the intentions of AMI for the upcoming year. Concerning questions of Armed Forces, AMI can be seen as the expert, to which the Vatican can turn if an expertise is necessary in questions concerning ethics, moral, fighting, living and needs of soldiers.

AMI received everywhere great hospitality and some excellent advice concerning our work in the upcoming years.

Rome 3 Rome 4
Rome 5 Rome 6
Rome 7 Rome 8

Terror in Paris

AMI sent a letter of condolence to the President of the French Republic, François Hollande.

Expressing the deep sorrow we feel and that AMI could support even France in questions of moral and ethics of Armed Forces. It even should be possible to give more room for Christian values and education in the Armed Forces.

OCTOBER 27-28, 2015 – Enquête of the Institute for Religion and Peace/Vienna
Enquete 1 Enquete 2

From 27 to 28 October this year´s
Enquête of the Institute for Religion and Peace took place in Vienna. On the agenda was the question:

Soldier, warrior, killer? – Soldatenbild und militärische Kulturen im 21. Jahrhundert.

Military Bishops from Poland and Slovakia and military chaplains from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Croatia, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Slovakia and Austria assisted both days of the conference.

AMI had the opportunity to assist not only this highly interesting conference, but to present to the auditory goals and work of the Apostolat Militaire International.

Some 25 high ranking persons like Military Bishop Rabek from Slovakia and Military Archbishop Józef Guzdek from Poland listened to the President of AMI, MajGen Norbert Sinn.

At the end of the conference, in front of almost 80 persons listening, AMI-president thanked again Military Bishop of Austria Werner Freistetter for his hospitality, support and friendship to AMI. On this occasion the AMI president handed over the AMI jubilee-book to the (former) ecclesiastical advisor Military Bishop Werner Freistetter.

AMI used the conference to meet for a working session in the frame of Presidency and General Secretariat.

Under discussion were our upcoming visit and report about our work to the Vatican, the next steps to organize our work as an NGO, and of course our next conference.

AMI is delighted to inform you all, that most probably ACOM, the Dutch member of AMI is going to host the conference of 2016 in this beautiful country. It is not quiet sure but we are very hopeful. As soon as we know more details about time, date and exact place we will inform you all.

Enquete 3 Enquete 4
Enquete 5
SEPTEMBER 6 -11, 2015 – 50th General Assembly and Conference of the Apostolate Militaire International in Santiago de Compostela
AMI Delegates in santiago 2015

Gaudium et Spes and the Declaration Nostra Aetate, 50 years of AMI and the need for interreligious dialogue” – under this overall theme the Apostolate Militaire International celebrated its 50th General Assembly in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

The invitation of the military archbishop of Spain, Msgr. Juan del Río Martín was responded by delegations from 15 nations, coming from four continents, to make a pilgrimage to the place on the stars field where the Apostle James has his final resting place.

With great joy we had learned that his Majesty King Felipe VI, adopted the honorary presidency on the conference.

With the help of lectures on the history of the “Camino” of Santiago, inter-religious dialogue, and the present condition of the world and the needs of military members in it, the Apostolat Militaire International gathered again in Santiago de Compostela, 50 years after it was originally conceived here in 1965 to reexamine its mission and goals. From our beginning, AMI has been a, so to say, group of Military pilgrims from different countries traveling through life in, what Vatican II reminds us, is only one world and one human community.

For preparation of the conference topics were with lecturers of the University of Tilburg in the Netherlands Prof. Dr. Marcel Poorthuis, and Prof. Dr. Fred van Iersel, the University of Salamanca Prof. Dr. Francisco Javier del Real Buide and the University of Granada, Dr. D. Jose Luis Sánchez Nogáles, available. Moreover, it was performed by officers from Spain, Germany and Austria on the subject.

The Spanish Armed Forces made it possible to become familiar with the goals, tasks and missions, but even provided us a deep insight-look to spirituality and Catholicism within the Armed Forces. And we were grateful having the opportunity to listen to the lectures of Admiral Javier Pery Paredes as personal representative of the Minister, and Admiral Teodoro E. López Calderón, from the Spanish Command for operations.

Another colloquium took place concerning the most dangerous situation and negative development in the Ukraine and its influence on security in the north-eastern part of Europe.

With its newly acquired status both as a Vatican recognized lay organization and a NGO, AMI has a special ability to be a forum for exchange of “best practices” among member military organizations and is able to share those same experiences, as a template or a stimulus, for each nation, finding their own pilgrim way through life’s challenges. This could include anything from promoting inter-religious dialogue within the military, developing methods of encountering the media, or confronting terrorist challenges to living virtuously: ways of protecting one’s population without degenerating into revenge.

Conference 01 Conference 02
Press Release AMI Conference 2015
Final Results AMI Conference 2015

During the conference, AMI also presented to the public the book:

“The Christian Soldier in the Service of Just Peace – AMI anniversary publication 1965-2015”

This publication is, not only at a retrospective and a synopsis of the past fifty years, but of course also an overview in the present and future of AMI by the President of AMI, Major General Mag. Norbert Sinn.

Professor Fred van Iersel from Tilburg University explained this with a lecture on the topic

The Catholic Soldiers’ moral experience in the midst of the paradoxes of the use of force”.

The printing of the book was supported by the Federal Ministry of Defence and Sports in Austria and ACOM, a Christian Union of military personnel in the Netherlands. Col. Michael Jedlička from Austria took, thankfully, the editorship. The photos on the 50-year history have been compiled by Lieutenant Colonel Andreas Preuss, of the German Federal Armed Forces.

With the help of the grace of God and the intercession of St. James, the first apostle to lay down his life for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, may we all follow the pilgrimages we each are called to, together with our fellow military pilgrims, and arrive one day at the fullness of the Kingdom of God.

We are convinced that the way of AMI is a right one. In this sense and with overwhelming impressions AMI left Spain with the anticipation of the next conference.

Conference 03 Conference 04

JULY 2015 – Ordination of Mgr. Dr. Werner Freistetter as Military Bishop for Austria – June 11, 2015
On June 11, 2015 the Episcopal Ordination of Bishop’s Vicar Mgr. Dr. Werner Freistetter, same time AMI ecclesiastical assistant since 2005, took place during a solemn ceremony, led by the Apostolic Nuncio for Austria, Archbishop Dr. Peter Zurbriggen and supported by 18 Bishops, a lot of Chaplains and Deacons, as well as a huge number of military people and civil servants of the Austrian Armed Forces.

Among the guests, the Austrian Minister of Defence, the Governor of Lower Austria, the Chief of Defence Staff and several guests from Austria and abroad. Many delegates from AMI-member states assisted the ceremony too.

The ceremony took place in the morning at the Cathedral of Wiener Neustadt. Afterwards Military Bishop Freistetter celebrated his first Holy mass as a Bishop, followed by a reception and a Te Deum in the St. George’s Cathedral of the Theresian Military Academy, which will be, as in the past, the see of the newly ordained Military Bishop.

AMI assisted by presence of the President, both vice presidents, secretary general and vice secretary general. AMI held an official meeting and used time and place to talk to a lot of good friends and interested people we hope to meet again in September 2015 in Santiago de Compostela!

All our blessings will accompany Military Bishop Dr. Werner Freistetter!

Ordination 01 Ordination 02
Ordination 03 Ordination 04
Ordination 05 Ordination 06
Ordination 07 Ordination 08
Ordination 09
Ordination 10


MAY 2015 – Latest News about the conference of AMI in Santiago
His Majesty, King Felipe VI, will take upon him the PRESIDENCY OF HONOUR concerning our conference in Santiago de Compostela.
We all feel deeply honoured and are happy about this Royal sign of appreciation for our work.

decree King Felipe

What have you done with your brother?”In the “Holy Year” 2015, the 57th International Military Pilgrimage to Lourdes took place from May 15 till 17. More then 12.000 soldiers from about fifty countries and from all continents participated in this wonderful, spiritual event. Also AMI was strongly represented.

President, Major General Sinn, both Vice-Presidents and of course the Secretary-General Nelleke Swinkels – van de Vorst and Vice-Secretary-General Jan van Lieverloo were present.
The ecclesiastical assistant of AMI, Monsignor Dr. Werner Freistetter, led this time, as the designated new military bishop, the Austrian delegation. It was with great joy AMI delegates could congratulate our ecclesiastical assistant with his new assignment. Similar to a family celebration, many friends of AMI were welcomed during the pilgrimage.

In addition to the spiritual and religious highlights, the soldierly virtue of camaraderie was not neglected. Vice President Markus Stromberger invited the friends of AMI to a typical Carinthia snack, which was gladly accepted. In a comrades-circle the future of AMI, the pilgrimage and many other things were lively discussed. Of course a key topic was the question, who could take over the task of our AMI ecclesiastical assistant in the future.

Also the preparations for the next AMI Conference in Santiago de Compostela were discussed. During this conference in September AMI will celebrate its 50th Anniversary.

During the opening and closing Holy Mass we heard extremely interesting homilies, by the Military Bishop Ravel and Cardinal Marc Ouellet of France. You can find all information on: http://www.dioceseauxarmees.catholique.fr/pelerinage-militaire-international-2015.html

Even though the weather was not that good, the pleasure in the Sanctuary and the belief in the goodness of Our Lady outshines all rainy days.

Finally, the time just flew by and all pilgrims and of course our AMI friends agreed that we will meet again at the 58th military pilgrimage from May 20 till 22, 2016.

For the complete pictures follow this link to our Lourdes Picture gallery.

MAY 2015 – AMI wishes all of you a peaceful and enleightening Pentecost. May the Holy Spirit come upon you!

APRIL 23, 2015 – Conference on intercultural and Religious Differences in current Conflicts in Budapest

First time in Hungary, a one day’s conference concerning the political, social, religious and ethnic questions of current conflicts took place in Budapest, organised by the University on Administration, the Military Ordinariate of Hungary and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.

H.E. Cardinal Dr. Erdő Péter spoke about Vatican’s diplomacy in current conflicts, others about the development of the conflict between extremist Muslim organizations and the Western world and its consequences, especially for Christians living in the Middle East (Dr. Ujházi Lórand).

AMI President MajGen Norbert Sinn contributed to the conference with a lecture about goals and work of AMI, including the questions of responsibility and ethical behaviour of soldiers, even if the enemy does not so. He even mentioned the possibility of founding lay military organisations within the Armed Forces as a means to foster and strengthen military people in a Christian sense and as support of the Military Chaplains of all confessions.

Military Bishop Bíró László, who assisted all the conference, showed high interest in the work of AMI and promised to think about sending a delegate to Santiago and our next conference.

APRIL 16, 2015 – Mons. Dr. Werner FREISTETTER new Military Bishop of AUSTRIA

This afternoon we heard the news that Pope Francis appointed the Episcopal Vicar and Ecclesiastical Assistant of Apostolat Militaire International (AMI), Mons. Dr. Werner Freistetter to be the new Military Bishop of Austria.

Mons. Dr. Werner Freistter

The Presidium of AMI would like to congratulate, on behalf of all AMI Friends, the new Military Bishop and wishes him all the best and God’s blessings.
We are very grateful for all the work he has done for our organization as Ecclesiastical Assistant. We certainly will miss his knowledge, his excellent cooperation and friendship.

more information at mildioz.at

APRIL 2015 – HAPPY EASTER to all our members, friends and associates
Gotischer Altar in Burgund

Retable de la Crucifixion, 1390 AD

MARCH 6-8, 2015 – PREPARATION CONFERENCE at Santiago de Compostela


The first weekend of March General Sinn, president of AMI, Fritz Aflenzer, vice president, secretary general Nelleke and vice secretary general Jan van Lieverloo travelled to Santiago de Compostela for a meeting with our Spanish hosts for the last important preparatory works for this year’s conference.

As you all know, this year we organize not only our conference with an interesting theme, but even will celebrate our 50th anniversary.

After two days of discussing all essential aspects of our conference, we are convinced, that it will be not only an interesting, but also a solemn conference.

We met again Father Rascon, Don Lorenzo and major Eusebio Horno Conde, treasurer of the Spanish organizing committee, as well as Hector Martinez, who did all the translation for us.

We assisted solemn Holy Masses in the cathedral, listened to the gospel, saw the swinging of the botafumeiro (very impressive) and we met the Archbishop and the Auxiliary Bishop of Santiago too. Both are happy to have us here in Santiago in autumn!

And Santiago de Compostela itself, with its marvelous and inspiring atmosphere is a beautiful place for all pilgrims and faithful people, looking for inner peace and inner satisfaction.


To the Catholic Military Bishops, To the press agencies, To the Members and Friends of the Apostolat Militaire International (AMI),

Your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Attached you will find a press release on behalve of the Presidency of Apostolat Militiare International. We invite you to pray with us for pease in the world and especially in the Ukraine.

Yours sincerely,

Nelleke Swinkels – van de Vorst
AMI Secretary General

Press Release 25-2-2015


AMI and Austrian delegation

On the occasion of a military pilgrimage to Rome in 1975 the German GKS and AMI agrees on celebrating the World Day of Peace every year.
In Germany it takes place since 1977. This year’s motto is:
“Slaves no more, but brothers and sisters”.

AMI presidency and secretary General took the opportunity to assist the Holy Mess, celebrated by the Archbishop of Cologne,Cardinal Rainer-Maria Woelki, and to discuss together with our comrades from the Austrian Association of Catholic Soldiers questions of the actual situation of Christianism and Catholicism within the Armed Forces in general and, in the frame of AMI, questions of AMI especially the upcoming conference in Santiago de Compostela.

AMI Presidency and Seretary General in front of the Cathedral AMI and the Austrian Delegation
The Cathedral of Cologne

Our new Presidency

On the right side you can see our new Vice-President Lieutenant-Colonel Friedrich AFLENZER.

Short Cirriculum Vitae:

  • married, two children (Maximilian und Freija).

Military Career:

  • 1995-1998 Military Academy
  • Lt , CBRN-Defence Branch
  • Platoon-Leader, Company Commander at the Aviation Regeiment 1,
  • Main Instructor for decontamination at the CBRN-Defence School, Korneuburg
  • Since December 2013 CBRN-Defence Officer in theMoD/Force Developement Division in Vienna.

Missiona Abroad:

  • 2000 austrian Humanitarian Mission/Mozambique
  • 2004 austrian Humanitarian Mission /Thailand
  • 2005 austrian Forces Disaster Relief Unit/Pakistan
  • 2007 AUTCON26-KFOR/Kosovo


  • Vice-president of the Austrian Association of Catholic soldiers, Member of the Military Parish Council.