2016 AMI activity

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DECEMBER 2016 – Christ is born!

The AMI Presidency and the Executive Committee are wishing all his members and friends a merry Christmas and a happy and peaceful New Year 2017.


December 20-21, 2016 – Christmas-Visit at the Austrian Contingent of KFOR

When meeting the Austrian Minister of Defence, Hans-Peter Doskozil, to inform him about the goals and work of AMI personally, he invited the AMI-President to accompany him visiting KFOR in December, 2016.

This Christmas-visit took place December 20-21, 2016.

The Minister of course was not only accompanied by AMI President, but members of the Austrian Parliament, Austrian Military Bishop Dr. Werner Freistetter, the Protestant Chaplain-Generalof the AAF Dr. Karl Trauner, Diocese Bishop Aegidius Zsifkovics from Burgenland and Military Commandant of Lower Austria and President of AKS, BrigGen Martin Jawurek.

The Kosovo, although no incidents occur at the moment, will remain a hot spot and important key point for European Security. Several hundred Austrian soldiers form part of KFOR and serving for peace, the biggest contingent outside NATO, taking a lot of responsibility for KFOR and Kosovo as a whole.

Both the Bishops and Chaplain-General prayed together with the Austrian soldiers, expressing their hope for peace and confirmed the important task of the soldiers while fulfilling this mission.

The Austrian contingent showed its professional capacities during an exercise of possible task situations on second day.

For AMI it was an honour being with the Minister, having the opportunity to explain the role of AMI, its goals and tasks and showing the flag.


November 13-18, 2016 – Our yearly visit to Rome

The Presidency had meetings with Mons Santo Marciano, at the State Secretariat and at the different Pontifical Counsels.

November 13 to 18, 2016 AMI Presidency and Ecclesiastical Advisor Father Patrick Dolan travelled to Rome. Most important reason was to start the preparations for our next year’s conference of AMI in Rome.

It was the last week of the Holy Year of Mercy, proclaimed by our Holy Father, and the last week that the “Porta Santa” was open! Lots of pilgrims visited Rome this week.

Monday November 14, 2016
Norbert, Jan and Nelleke started on Monday with an internal meeting to clarify our positions before starting our talks with Military Bishop Santo Marciano on Wednesday.

Topics we discussed were for instance:
The date of the 2017 AMI Conference in Rome;
Content of the 2017 Conference in Rome;
Of course we have to ask the Italian Bishop with what topics he wants to deal in the conference in September;
Elections/new president, secretary general and treasurer;
Nations that can host the next AMI conferences in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

Monday in the afternoon Jan and Nelleke attended the “Allerheiligenberaad” of the Dutch Bishop’s conference in Rome. The Dutch Bishop Mons De Korte gave an interesting lecture, as well as the Dutch Ambassador to the Holy See, HRH Prince Jaime de Bourbon de Parme. Of course we invited HRH to attend our 2017 Conference in Rome.

Norbert, Ida and father Pat brought a courtesy visit to the Austrian Ambassador to the Holy See, H.E. Dr. Alfons Kloss. They informed the Ambassador about goals and work of AMI and the conference of next year.

Tuesday November 15, 2016
On Tuesday November 15, Jan and Nelleke attended the Holy Mass for the pilgrims of the Netherlands in Saint Peter´s and a meeting with Pope Francis.
In the evening we met the Austrian Military bishop Mons Werner Freistetter and the head of the Institute of Religion and Peace, Stefan Gugerell. We had dinner together and discussed about the topics for 2017.

Wednesday November 16, 2016
In the morning of Wednesday November 16, we went to the Military Ordinariate of Italy for our meeting with the Bishop. It was a very constructive and friendly meeting with Bishop Santo Marciano, the Vicar general Mons Angelo Frigerio, and Don Santo Battaglia and Colonel Domenico d’Ortenzi. We could set the date for the conference next year.

It will be from September Sunday 17 till Friday 22, 2017.

At the end of the meeting we decided that we will try to make a draft program and we will go back to Rome and stay at the barracks March 20 till 23, 2017, to prepare the conference and take care of the further details and the program of the conference. Any suggestions are most welcome! Of course we will involve the Chief of Defense Staff of the Italian Armed Forces.

After the meeting at the military ordinariate Colonel Domenico accompanied us to the Pontifical Counsel for Justice and Peace.

Here we met again Mrs. Flaminia Giovanelli, Mrs. Christine Jeangey and Mons Tomasi, who is working for the counsel after his resignation as permanent observer to the Holy See in Geneva. We discussed important topics for the councel with Mrs. Giovanelli and Mrs. Jeaney such as:
Protection of civilian and religious personnel by military (for instance in Syria where religious personnel stays in the war zone for education of the children) and the position of prisoners of war. We told them also that we as NGO apply for ECOSOC and Caritas Internationalis.

The rest of the week we met Padre Guilio Cerchietti and informed him about the plans of next year´s conference in Rome. Of course we visited the State Secretariat again and had a meeting with the new Assessor for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State, Mons. Paolo Borgia and Mrs. Fermina Alvarez.

Our last appointment of the week was with Mons. Melchior Sanchez de Toca Y Alameda, from the Pontifical Councel for Cultures.

Of course it is more or less showing AMI´s Flag what we try to do in Rome and tell them who we are and what we try to accomplish with our work. We ask them for support and advice and offered our expertise as a NGO working for the military.

Thursday evening Col Domenico d’Ortenzi and his lovely wife joined us for dinner and we talked about the ideas we acquired in these last few days.

In January 2017 the Presidency will meet again to work on the content of our Rome Conference in September.


November 9, 2016 – Meeting with Austrian Minister of Defence Hans-Peter Doskozil

Wednesday November 9, 2016 AMI president Norbert Sinn had the opportunity to meet, together with the Austrian president of the Austrian Catholic soldiers association, Genmaj Martin Jawurek, the Federal Minister of Defence of Austria, Hans-Peter Doskozil.The president took the opportunity to explain goals and work of AMI and to hand over two books about the work of AMI including the statutes as well as telling about the upcoming conference 2017, which will take place in Rome.

The minister showed high interest and was impressed by the number of members coming from all over the world. Offering his support for our work, he invited AMI president to accompany him at Christmas time, when travelling to visit Austrian soldiers serving in missions abroad.


OCTOBER 18-19, 2016 – Enquete of the Institute for Religion and Peace/Austrian Military Ordinariate concerning Soldiers – expelling, escaping, extending cover”

October 18-19, 2016 an international conference concerning the role of soldiers in current political developments took place at the National Defence Academy of Austria, to which Col. Father Dr. Stefan Gugerel, head of the Institute, had invited.

Speakers were Fr. Paul Lansu /Pax Christi Brussels, Col. Dietmar Winkler, University of Salzburg, Col. Herbert Walzer, MOD Austria, and Rita Perintfalvi/Austria and Hungary – Austrian Bible Congregation.
Fr. Lansu spoke about the actual refugee situation, the numbers and the fate of refugees worldwide, especially the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe.
It became clear that we are confronted with an “Exodus” which in fact always took place but nowadays is becoming a huge long lasting wave. Migration even will not end, when all the crisis have yet ended!
Dietmar Winkler spoke about the expulsion of Christians and the destruction of Christian monuments, especially churches in the Middle East as a form of attempt to end Christian dwelling and living in the whole region.
Col. Walzer told us about deserters and deserting of soldiers, legal backgrounds and its consequences.And last but not least Mrs. Rita Perintfalvi spoke about “Hospitality in the Old Testament and the Lord’s reward for the nonhospital ones”.

Everybody needing help and shelter should receive it, that is the result.

AMI presidency used the opportunity to meet SecGen Nelleke Swinkels-van de Vorst, ViceSecGen Jan van Lieverloo and Fred van Iersel to discuss again the results of our conference in Vught, how to proceed and what to prepare for our meetings in Rome and the Vatican.


OCTOBER 2016 – AMI General Assembly and Annual Conference 2016

This year´s AMI General Assembly and Annual Conference took place in Vught / Netherlands from 18th to 23rd September 2016.The conference participants were accommodated in the idyllic Landgoed Huize Bergen in Vught, where also as official start of the conference, the opening Holy Mass was conducted.

We were able to welcome participants from Europe, Africa, Australia, North America and South America. The first-ever participation of Argentina in the conference was especially gratifying. Since the conference was adopted by the Netherlands, it was all the more amazing how professional and structured this General Assembly was prepared. The Dutch Armed Forces, ACOM and NKT made every effort to offer the participants an excellent and pleasant environment.

The Presidium defined three key areas, which were dealt with intensively:

The consequences of armed conflicts, especially for Catholic soldiers and their families in the background of Laudato Si;

Mercy in Military Life;

Future of AMI;

After the participants were welcomed in the Netherlands by Rear-Admiral Henk Itzig Heine, representing the Dutch Ministry of Defence and Mr. Leon van der Hulst, chairman of ACOM, the General Assembly and Annual Conference was officialy opened by the President of AMI, Major-General Norbert Sinn.

Already at the beginning the participants expected a highlight. General (ret) Peter van Uhm, the former Chief of Defence Staff in the Netherlands, talked about “The meaning of mercy in military life” and impressed us with his remarks enriched by painful personal experiences.

Both, Military Bishop of Austria, H.E. Werner Freistetter, as well as the Archbishop of the Military Ordinariate of Italy, H.E. Santo Marcianò, enriched the conference with very interesting lectures.

During the first day of the conference AMI elected a new Ecclesiastical Assistant, successor of the Austrian Military Bishop Mons Werner Freistetter.
AMI members, who were present in Vught, voted unanimously, by open ballot, for the new Ecclesiastical Assistant, Brigadier General (ret) Father Patrick Dolan of the USA. We all wish Father Dolan success and God´s blessing.

The lecture series were rounded off by contributions about the future of AMI as a NGO. Prof. dr. Fred van Iersel showed us in his lecture, “AMI’s role as an NGO: invitations, opportunities and challenges”, ways to become successful as a Catholic Inspired NGO.

Afterwards, the Presidium´s guidelines were discussed and contributions were elaborated.

On Wednesday we had our cultural day to explore some of the surroundings, after the Holy Mass in the H. Hart Kerk in Vught, we started the visit at the concentration camp Kamp Vught, and visited further sights of the city of ´s-Hertogenbosch.

After further lectures and meetings in the working groups and the announcement of the results of the working groups, the last day was concluded with the miscellaneous topics of interest of AMI. Our treasurer gave his financial report and we said goodbye to one of the members of our Auditing Committee, LtCol Andreas Preuss. President Sinn thanked Andreas for the excellent work he did in the last 10 years. His successor will be 1Ltnt Erik VOZÁR from Slovakia.

The 51th AMI Conference ended with a pontifical Closing Holy Mass conducted by the Nuncio in the Netherlands, Mons Aldo Cavalli and the Bishop of ´s-Hertogenbosch, Mons Gerard de Korte at St. John’s Cathedral.

At a beautiful official closing dinner in Kasteel Maurik, the participants concluded the conference in a festive setting and reflect once more.

Since both the Presidium and the General Secretariat of AMI are to be re-elected in 2017, these were also heated topics. Fortunately, the Netherlands have agreed to take over the presidency. The Secretary General is still looking for willing nations.

Likewise very pleasing was the invitation of the Archbishop of the Military Ordinariate of Italy, H.E. Santo Marciano, to host the General Assembly and the Annual Conference 2017 in Rome. The delegates accepted with applause.

Far too fast this time the General Assembly and the annual conference was over, and we had to say goodbye to each other and the beautiful place of Vught.

However, the Presidency and the Secretariat-General are already looking forward to a reunion in Rome 2017.


SEPTEMBER 25, 2016 – Meeting with Mons. Janusz Urbańczyk, Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the International Organisations in Vienna

On the occasion of celebrating 50 years IAEA in Vienna, the Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the International Organisations in Vienna, Mons. Urbańczyk, invited to assist a solemn holy mass at St. Elizabeth-church and a following reception at the Nuncios offices. At this occasion AMI president met again people of the international community. When talking to Mons. Urbańczyk he invited to meet again for an exchange of opinions and possible fields of cooperation as a NGO.


SEPTEMBER 17, 2016 – Meeting with the Prior of the Order of Malta/Austria

One of the results of our talks in Geneva with the Archbishop Tomasi, head of the permanent Mission to the International Organisations there was the idea to get into contact even with the Order of Malta and to listen to their thoughts about work as a NGO.Now, September 17, 2016 AMI president met at the Grand Priory of Austria of the Order of Malta the Prior Norbert Count Salburg-Falkenstein and his chancellor, Richard Steeb, to inform them about statutes, goals and work of AMI, and to explore possible fields of cooperation when working as a NGO.

It was talking with friends and after exchanging a lot of information, both sides agreed to strengthen the ties and that AMI should get next into contact with the head of the permanent Mission of the Order to the UN in Vienna, to discuss possible common goals and cooperation.


AUGUST 23, 2016 – Meeting with Military Bishop František Rábek in Marianka

Tuesday August 23 AMI-president Norbert Sinn met again Military Bishop Rábek. First he informed him about the activities of this year, working for AMI and preparing this year´s conference. Norbert introduced to him the themes of this year´s conference and spoke a lot about, especially concerning Laudato Si and “Mercy”. He spoke to him even about the current situation within AMI and its expectations for the future. In that concern the acting, as an NGO became a theme too. The bishop of Slovakia is happy with the theme Mercy, and sympathizes with AMI very much, telling that he had already asked two delegates to take part in our conference in Vught, The Netherlands.

He told about his work, the pilgrimages, which were organised, and the work of the different professional spheres, belonging to the Military Ordinariate, like police and fire workers. He agreed too that Luboslav Farkas, chaplain of the fire workers takes part in Vught and give us a lecture about his work there.

After we had coffee we prayed together in the pilgrim´s church of Marianka for our community and the honour and grace of our Holy Mother Maria, mother of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Happy, having heard so much good news Norbert crossed again the Morava River on his way home.


JULY 28, 2016 – AMI President, Vice president and Secretary General meet in Carinthia, Austria

Thursday July 28, 2016 AMI-president Norbert Sinn and his Vice president WO Markus Stromberger met with Secretary General Nelleke Swinkels at her holiday residence in Afritz.We discussed several open questions about the program and the content of our annual conference in September 2016.

This year we will try to send the contributions of our speakers already before the conference started, so our delegates can prepare themselves.

Of course we talked about the future of AMI as NGO, a more intense cooperation with our delegates and the elections of a new presidency next year.

Crucial are two questions we want to discuss this year:

Question 1:  A serious concern for our military today is the handling of refugees charitably–all while protecting them from any embedded terrorists and also protecting the nation from any such threat.  Does your nation (or its neighbors) have any “best practices” for doing this in a truly Christ-like way?

Question 2:  AMI recently achieved NGO status and seeks to use that status to help our military members be more faithful to God.  What difference does that new status–while remaining essentially the same organization with the same goals–make to your country or its neighbors?

So lots of work to do for all of us!

For now we hope on good weather conditions and interesting days in Vught, The Netherlands.

If you did not subscribe yet please do not hesitate any longer and send an e-mail to our secretary general: Nellekeswinkels@gmail.com

Looking forward to meet again in September!


MAY 19-23, 2016 – 58th International Military Pilgrimage to Lourdes

Lourdes, in the foothills of the Pyrenees, is the site of apparitions of the Virgin Mary that appeared to a young girl called Bernadette over 150 years ago. Each year it attracts about six million pilgrims.

The International Military Pilgrimage started in 1958 when the French Armed Forces invited the German military to join them in Lourdes as a gesture of post-war reconciliation.

“Gate of Mercy” was the official theme for the last International Military Pilgrimage in Lourdes from May 19 till 23, 2016

Under this slogan almost 15.000 servicemen and women from more than 40 nations and from all continents participated in this wonderful, spiritual event. They followed the invitation of the French military bishop to the 58th International Military Pilgrimage to Lourdes to store a living witness for peace in the Marian shrine.

The soldiers took the theme and transferred it to “His door is always open” and produced a wonderful, colourful and spiritual demonstration of their religious beliefs.

Also many friends of our community, who participated in this pilgrimage, have met in the old tradition of cultivating camaraderie and sharing their experiences in a friendly atmosphere.

From the presidency of AMI the 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.

As usual we met Friday evening at the Hotel Solitude several AMI delegates and friends to share some drinks and thoughts together.

Saturday afternoon President Norbert Sinn, Vice-President Fritz Aflenzer and our Secretary General met each other for a short meeting and in the evening we went together to the reception of Mgr. Luc Ravel, the French army bishop.
We talked with the American Archbishop Broglio, good friend of our new ecclesiastical assistant Father Dolan, and to the military bishop from Switzerland Mgr. Alain de Raemy. We met Padre
Cerchietti from Rome, the Kenyan delegation, and several other interesting people, like our dear old AMI friend Commander Jonathan Worthington, with his lovely wife. He joined our AMI conferences several times. Last time was in Nairobi in 2006. We invited him to join us in September but as he told us, they are awaiting for the appointment of the new Military Bishop of the United Kingdom, successor of Mgr. Richard Moth.

After the reception our Vice President Markus Stromberger organised a so-called “Kärntner Abend”, with all kinds of special drinks and finger food from the region in Austria where he is living. Even Austrian “Schnaps” was served. So we spent two evenings with AMI Friends under the protection of the Holy Mother of Lourdes.

During the long weekend, the various groups celebrated mass together, and in smaller groups walked over a stony hillside to trace the Stations of the Cross, a prayer reflection on Christ’s journey to his death.

A torchlight procession saw all the thousands of Lourdes pilgrim’s process by candlelight around the open spaces. Many military pilgrims also immersed themselves in the baths of freezing Lourdes water which came up from the earth during the apparitions that appeared to Bernadette.

During the closing ceremony Sunday afternoon President Sinn and Secretary General Nelleke were able to make acquaintances with Lady Jane Gottardi, she is the spouse of an American general and chair of the Military Council of Catholic Women. Lady Jane will attend our conference in September on behalf of the USA, representing her lay organization.

After wonderful days in Lourdes quickly came the time to say goodbye and we are convinced that next year, God willing, it will be a reunion.

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


MAY 2016 – AMI wishes all of you a peaceful an enlightening Pentecost. May the Holy Spirit come upon you!


APRIL 29 to May 1, 2016 – 30 years of the encyclical “Spirituali Militum Curae” Conference in the Vatican

His doors are always open” – with this saying the Holy Father invited the Military worldwide to take part in a conference about 30 years Military Ordinariates.Many Military Bishops and delegations from all over the world followed this invitation as from Kenya, South Africa, the USA and Canada, the Philippines and South Korea and many European countries.

Pope Francis declared the Military Ordinariates to be “Artisans of God” and conciliation as important step to create peace between the peoples.

Directly to the delegations he declared:

“Dear friends, your demanding work is above all the service to peace, security and reconciliation in society. I encourage you never to lose heart before the difficulties and conflicts you encounter, but to grow always in faith and trust in God’s loving help. Thus you will be signs of Christian hope, with its certainty that love conquers evil and that peace triumphs over violence and war.”

AMI-President Norbert Sinn had, thanks to the Austrian Military Bishop Dr. Werner Freistetter, the opportunity to accompany and take part in the conference. It was used not only to listen to the lecturers as it was given by Excellence Paul Richard Gallagher, Eminence Card. Marc Ouellet, Eminence Card.Fernando Filoni, Excellency Mons. Rino Fisichella and some of the Military Bishops, but to get into contact with African and Asian states and Canada, and, of course, to talk with our friends worldwide present in Rome.

The celebration ended on Sunday with a solemn Pontifical Mass in St. Peters dome, celebrated by Card Marc Ouellet and concelebrating by the Military Bishops and the Angelus from the Holy Father.


APRIL 19, 2016 – AMI-meeting with the Military Bishop of Croatia

AMI-president Norbert Sinn travelled to the capital of Croatia, Zagreb, to meet there the newly ordained Military Bishop of Croatia, Jure Bogdan. On the agenda of our meeting were goals and work, construction, membership and the relationship with the Holy See.

AMI-president informed him, that during the last years always a Croatian delegation took part in our conferences and proposed to him to become even member of AMI.

Bishop Bogdan took his time for more than one hour and it was possible to explain a lot about our work. AMI brought for him a personally dedicated book about 50 years of AMI, as well as for his General Vicar father Jakov Mamić.

Bishop Bogdan will travel to Lourdes too, where it will be possible to meet him again.

In the frame of the visit it was even possible to meet again the delegate of Croatia of our conference in Santiago de Compostela, Marinko Nikolič, and his wife Kristina, and even their little daughter, Marta. What a pleasure!


APRIL 13, 2016 – AMI-meeting in Fribourg/Suisse

AMI-president Norbert Sinn travelled to Fribourg/Switzerland for a meeting with Auxiliary Bishop Alain de Raemy, who is responsible for military matters within the congregation of Swiss Catholic Bishops.From the point of view of AMI the goal of this visit was to try to take up again the thread to make it possible that Switzerland joins our AMI community again. Bishop Alain de Raemy showed high interest in our work, and got a book about 50 years of AMI as a gift.

In the frame of our meeting we stated to be necessary getting into contact even with the responsible persons of the Swiss Army to whom the Bishop keeps an excellent relationship with.

Next time we will meet during the international soldier’s pilgrimage to Lourdes in May this year.


APRIL 1 – 4, 2016 – Preparatory meeting for this year’s conference in Vught, Netherland

From Friday April 1 until Monday April 4, 2016 AMI president, Secretary General, treasurer, our designated spiritual adviser, father Patrick Dolan and responsibles of the Netherlands, Military Chief Chaplain Tom van Vilsteren, ACOM-President Leon van der Hulst and his Vice President Jan Kleian met in the town Vught, the place where our next conference will take place.

We talked and decided about the organisation and the content of our conference in September.

Vught is a town of approximately 26.000 inhabitants, situated close to ’s-Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch) in the South of the Netherlands. Den Bosch itself is a bigger town of long lasting history with 144.000 inhabitants.

First we visited the St. John’s Cathedral of ’s-Hertogenbosch (Sint-Janskathedraal), because the opening and closing Holy Mass will take place there, afterwards a short walk crossing the city and old town to show and explain the intended cultural program on Wednesday September 21.

In the afternoon AMI, Chief Chaplaincy of the Netherlands and ACOM sat down to discuss about the conference itself. New ideas became discussed. Later the afternoon all assisted Holy Mass in the church of Vught, where at least one Holy Mass will be celebrated during the conference. At the end of the day we visited Maurick Castle where the closing dinner shall take place.

Sunday morning we all assisted a Holy Mass in the Parish of ViceSecGen Jan van Lieverloo, and it was possible that our designated spiritual adviser, father Patrick Dolan celebrated the mass – in Dutch language!

Sunday afternoon AMI had the opportunity to discuss internal questions of AMI at the home of our Sec Gen, Nelleke van Swinkels – van de Vorst and to meet there even friends of AMI, including all the family of Nelleke!

It was great!

Monday morning all people travelled back home going to the USA and Austria.

AMI executive committee is convinced to prepare again an interesting, excellent General Assembly and conference from September 18 till 23, 2016.

Do please note:

General Assembly of the Apostolate Militaire International

We serve Catholic – to live authentically according to the Word of God and to spread the Gospel”

Theme: Laudato Si and its implications in armed conflicts


Military Profession and Just War in relation to mercy

Landgoed Huize Bergen

Glorieux Laan 1, 5261 Vught, Netherlands


MARCH 2016 – Happy Easter to all our friends, members and associates

The Apostle’s Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth;
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, Our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into Hell.
The third day He arose again from the dead;
He ascended into Heaven,
sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty;
from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.


FEBRUARY 2016 – In memoriam Henk Nicolaije (February 18, 1961 – † February 10, 2016)

For Henk high waves were not an obstacle, but just another challenge. With his naval background he also knew the risks involved in high seas. With his optimism, his view on the future and the dedication to his family, he surpassed the high waves that in the recent years crossed his voyage. Within a few years, planned as quality time after the naval travels, Henk lost his wife Monica and his mother, but found the strength to live on in the birth of his granddaughter and the future well being of the children. Contrary to the planned pilgrimage to Lourdes together with Monica, he visited the sanctuaries on his own, on the way back home after the 2015 AMI conference. However, he did not leave without a rosary for granddaughter Emma.

Retirement, for Henk, was not a period to do nothing; he gave lots of his spare time to others, be it in his local community or fellow members of ACOM. He accepted the challenge to be the organizer of the AMI 2016 conference.

Till that final wave of February 10… It appeared suddenly in his sleep, thus ending a life voyage that seemed unfinished.

Thinking of Henk, we lost a great friend. We are convinced that it has been God’s decision to bring Monica and Henk together to give them the opportunity in heaven to continue the quality time they deserved.

Henk, rest in God’s peace.



On the occasion of a military pilgrimage to Rome in 1975 the German GKS and AMI agreed on celebrating the World Day of Peace every year. In Germany this celebration takes place every January since 1977.

On January 21, 2016 at 9 o′clock the 40th International Day of Peace took place in the Cologne Cathedral with Archbishop Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki and about 1.200 soldiers from Germany and different other countries.

According to the provisions of Pope Francis this year’s motto was: “Overcome the Indifference and win the Peace”.

President MajGen Norbert Sinn, Vice-President Col Fritz Aflenzer, Secretary-General Nelleke Swinkels – van de Vorst and Vice-Secretary-General Jan van Lieverloo represented AMI in Cologne.

In his homily Cardinal Woelki paid tribute to all soldiers who are working for peace in the world. “The soldiers are committed to use their lives making the world safer and better”, Woelki said. Moreover, he criticized once again the assaults on women on New Year’s Eve around the Cologne Main Station and the following incitement and stigmatization of refugees.

After the Holy Mass for peace, there was a meeting of all the participating soldiers on the square, in front of the Cathedral and the traditional reception at the “Maternushaus”. Delegations of soldiers where invited to meet there with the Archbishop, the Secretary of State of the Ministry of Defence in Germany, Dr. Ralf Brauksiepe and other political, military and ecclesiastical leadership. The AMI Presidency talked to Dr. Brauksiepe thanked him for his interesting speech and handed over a jubilee-book of AMI as a token of our appreciation.

As all years AMI used this opportunity for a meeting with the Executive Council of AMI to discuss the possible content for this year’s conference in the Netherlands and questions about the future of AMI.
Another theme on the agenda was the results of travelling to Geneva and in what way AMI could act as a NGO in the future.


JANUARY 12, 2015 – Meeting in Geneva

Meeting with Archbishop Silvano Tomasi and his first secretary Mons Richard Gyhra

After reaching our NGO status as was requested by the Holy See, we went to Geneva to visit Mons SilvanoTomasi, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva.It was a warm welcome. Nelleke met Mons Tomasi 5 years ago during the Forum of Catholic Inspired NGO’s in Rome together with Michael Jedlička and stayed in contact al these years.

We asked Mgr. Tomasi about the steps we can take as an NGO on an international level within the UN.

There are a few steps we can take:

  1. We can formally enter the local Forum in Geneva and get us a point of contact there that can function as a liaison officer. Names mentioned were Alfred Fernandez and Stefano Nobile of Caritas Internationalis. In that way we will be part of the wider movement of Catholic inspired NGO’s;
  2. ECOSOC Status; If you have ECOSOC status you have directly access to the UN system. We can contribute there by exchanging thoughts and expertise about military life;
  3. Get in contact with the Red Cross in Geneva;
  4. Working together with the Council for Justice and Peace in Rome;
  5. Working together with Mons. Janusz Urbancyek (Poland) at the UN body in Vienna.

What can we bring in to the Geneva Forum and other international bodies?

  • The needs of our Catholic military network, soldiers and their family’s;
  • How do we create awareness?
  • How can we push some decisions that are important for Catholic military?

Mons Tomasi stipulated further that the practical working bodies are all located in Geneva and the political ones in New York. To give an indication there are approximately 33 meetings per day, 7 day’s a week.

The permanent observer to the Holy See has a staff of 5 people en 4 interns. They select the key positions where they should be present. Mons Tomasi has the feeling that the popularity of Pope Francis helps in the work they do.