Emmaus International

With the 2016 world assembly just a few weeks away, we take a look back at four world assemblies that have made a big impact on Emmaus International’s history. This week, first world assembly in Berne (Switzerland) in 1969.

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Adoption of the universal manifesto

“An international structure needed to be created so that we could meet and bolster our initiatives and solidarity work”, explains Stéphane Drechsler, the founder of Emmaus Cologne (Germany), who took part in the first assembly.

Following his near-death experience in 1963, Abbé Pierre realised that he was the only person who knew all the Emmaus groups worldwide. He therefore convened the first Emmaus world assembly, bringing together 70 Emmaus groups from 20 countries and four continents.

The groups adopted the universal manifesto, which needed to be “clear enough to guide our daily work and open enough to adapt to the range of countries and continents involved”, he remembers. The assembly also decided to set up an international secretariat.

The next meeting was scheduled for 1971, when Emmaus International was officially set up as an association.

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Abbé Pierre by R. Dick, world assembly in Berne (Switzerland) in 1969