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A dynamic statement of Christian Faith

A commitment to liberation

A call to Universality

Our History

The Inter-Cultural Association was founded in 1937 by Yvonne Poncelet, a Belgian woman who was inspired by the example of Vincent Lebbe. Father Lebbe was a missionary in China at the beginning of the 20th century where he was a pioneer in the new understanding of the relation of Christianity to different cultures.

Convinced that Christianity needs to be integrated into the cultures in which it seeks to take roots, he called on the missionaries of that time to be Chinese with the Chinese, a concept that slowly spread throughout the missionary world. One of his co-worker, André Boland, brought the concept to Belgium where Yvonne Poncelet and some of her close friends accepted the idea with enthusiasm.

They discovered their vocation as being laypersons in the various mission fields of the world, becoming as much as possible part of their new country and culture, at the service of the local church. In 1945, after the war, the small band of lay missionaries exploded with women joining them from all over Europe, Africa and Asia.
At the request of Bishops, the mission fields were in Asia, notably in Korea ; in Africa, Congo and Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Near East, and Latin America. ICA members are still there today, although the Association has undergone major changes.

Vatican II with its emphasis on the role of the laity, the changes in the world from colonialism to independence, a consciousness of self-assertion by the independent countries, and a critical view of the sometimes compromising role of the church, was cause of major changes in the Association.

The transformation was from Church structures to an informed life of faith ; from service in a diocese to a professional commitment through projects in view of an autonomous development of a region or country. Alongside a commitment to mission was born a commitment to solidarity and universality that does not believe in national self-interest but in the common good of all.

The transformation was major : many "Western" ICA returned to their native country working either professionally or as volunteers on international issues ; Congolese, Rwandese, Burkinabe Korean, women, men and couples, joined the Association and took over projects begun by the earlier ICA members and creating their own according to need.



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