Institut Cooperativo Interamericano

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Official name INSTITUT COOPERATIVO INTERAMERICANO

(Inter-American Cooperative Institute, ICI)

Country / Continent Panama / South America
Director of the institute Avenida La Pulida, Corregimiento de Pueblo Nuevo, Ciudad de Panamá, República de Panamá.
Legal holder of the institute President: Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez SDBLegal representative: Licentiate Carlos Manuel Lee Vásquez
Sponsor of the institute Scarboro Foreign Mission SocietyBroederlijk DelenHorizons of FriendshipTrocaireCAFODCCFD TERRE SOLIDAIREICCO (Netherlands)EED (Germany, Protestant Church Development Service)
Year of foundation 1967
Number of staff (employees, freelancers, volunteers) 17
Staff members of your institute The contribution of the priests and nuns is mainly in the management [Junta Directiva], but on certain points we get the support of some people on special topics offered.
Contact Avenida La Pulida,

Corregimiento de Pueblo Nuevo,

Ciudad de Panamá,

República de Panamá


Contents

Particulars of your pastoral institute

Official name

INSTITUT COOPERATIVO INTERAMERICANO

(Inter-American Cooperative Institute, ICI)

Director of the institute

Avenida La Pulida, Corregimiento de Pueblo Nuevo, Ciudad de Panamá, República de Panamá.

Legal holder of the institute

President: Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez SDBLegal representative: Licentiate Carlos Manuel Lee Vásquez

Scarboro Foreign Mission SocietyBroederlijk DelenHorizons of FriendshipTrocaireCAFODCCFD TERRE SOLIDAIREICCO (Netherlands)EED (Germany, Protestant Church Development Service)

Vision / mission statement

VISION: "We are an institution of Christian inspiration, which is due to the quality of its educational services extraordinary wanted, which has contributed to the strengthening of Latin American social movement and contributes to the consolidation of processes of change with significant impact on quality of life and social equality."

MISSION: "To contribute to the integral education of women and men of Latin American social movement so that their organisations strengthen processes of change that serve to achieve a life of abundance, richness and equality in society.

Main areas of work

  • Education and training of popular executives through workshops and courses.

Addressees of your work (course participants[1])

  • Men and women from social and religious movements in Latin America.
  • Executives (men and women) of the ecclesiastical basis communities of Latin America.
  • Heads/Leader of the cooperative movement in Latin America.Among the participants are priests and religious who have to deal with social development projects.

Year of foundation

The work begins with the first course in 1964, but the legal constitution of the institution is May 1967.

Organisational structure of the institute

The Institute has a leadership/management [Junta Directiva], which consists of ten persons, their structure:President: Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga SDBVice President: Lizenziado Carlos Manuel Lee VásquezSecretary: Lizenziada Marinelda Varela QuirósTreasurer: Thomas WalshDirectors: Father John Lynch SFM, Father Ronaldo McDonnell SFM, Licentiate Dora Arosemena B., Licentiate Luis Vargas, Licentiate Angela Rodriguez, Sister Graciela Cervantes.,

The operational fields are organized into an executive leadership, management, leadership, educational leadership, education and management team with a total of twelve full-time people.

Number of staff (employees, freelancers, volunteers)

  • Full time staff: 12 people.
  • Part time staff: 5 people.
  • External speakers (facilitadores) who support the workshops and courses at certain points.
  • Volunteers: 0 persons.
    The entire staff receives a fee for the work it does for the institution.

Staff members of your institute[2]

The contribution of the priests and nuns is mainly in the management [Junta Directiva], but on certain points we get the support of some people on special topics offered.

Qualifications of staff members of your institute

  • Sociology
  • Company management
  • agronomist
  • Lawyer
  • Social Communicator
  • social worker
  • Accounting
  • Pedagogy

Questions relating to the work of your institute

What pastoral options do you feel obliged to?

The contribution that we accomplish can be understood within the social dimension of the Gospel, especially within the various forms of social ministry, even though the institution is not really a space of pastoral work.

What are the pastoral focus areas of your institute?

Taking into account the stated secular character of the institution, we can mention its Christian inspiration regarding the following:

  • The establishment of just and equal social relations. To help realizing the efforts of "good life" inspired by the social teaching.

What pastoral aims does your institute pursue?

The Institute defines no goals within its pastoral work because, as stated it is an open space for education and training of managers and citizen movements.

What pastoral services does your institute provide?

This point is not applicable to the character of our institution.

What pastoral processes have you initiated or accompanied recently?

On a personal level I have supported the social pastoral of different dioceses in the country and their training/formation. Except contributions to FEPAR (religious association) in training/formation.

What does this mean for the areas of catechesis, deaconry and liturgy?

The religious organizations that participate in our educational offerings get the opportunity to find elements and criteria that will help them to realize a work, so that they, starting from the concrete realities in which they are embedded, reach it, that their pastoral responses have the character of a response to the need to encourage Christians who are committed to the social transformation.

What notion of God inspires your work?

A historical, contemporary, God revealed through Jesus, who encourages the converts to be agents of change, leaven, which is able to bring all people and the whole human being to the Father.

In how far does Christian spirituality shape your work?

Even though our staff is not selected by their religious practice is a significant percentage of the pastoral work of the respective churches connected and lives in some way experiences of spiritual growth.

What processes do you use or develop to analyse reality? How are these elaborated and how are they linked to pastoral care? How do you pass these processes on?

There is no single method of analysis of reality; so we are trying to get closer to the information and facts to discover the relationships between the facts. Starting from the question of the meaning of what we want to analyze, for what we want to do the analysis and how we want to tackle it. We use five analysis moments:

  • First Moment: exploration of the social subject
  • Second Moment: analysis of the situation context
  • Third moment: interpret, to understand
  • Fourth moment: Integral vision of society
  • Fifth Moment: alternative actions

Pursuant to the character of our institution it does not belong to the pastoral structure of the Church, this aspect is not applicable to us.

What prophetic approaches does the institute put into practice with a view to shaping society?

Although we have stated that the department has no specific pastoral or religious dimension, I can state that we actually have a prophetic focus that helps our students to discover the ethical and social contradictions of the society in which we live (indictment) and to be able to commit to building a world with more equality and justice (proclamation), starting from the values of solidarity, respect for others, the social justice and other things.

What does the work of the institute involve exactly? (Framework conditions? Publications? Courses? Lectures? Congress?...)

The institution has organized an annual course of 10 weeks, which develops three dimensions:

  • The Organisational
  • The Methodology
  • The human element

The design of this course is divided into 10 workshops in which, together with the assistants, following aspects will be deepened:

  1. Verbal and gestural expression
  2. Communication
  3. Organisational elements
  4. Personal growth (maturity)
  5. Conflict resolution
  6. Analysis of reality
  7. Ecology and Environmental Education
  8. Organisational change
  9. Planning
  10. Education for transformation

Besides, we perform two specialized workshops of 3 weeks, which apply topics that are being asked for from organisations and our alumni.

What magazines, periodicals, books, manuals, work aids, methodological instructions etc. does your institute publish?

Among the publications is the quarterly bulletin that reports about the implemented activities. Besides, we have published folders that support the specialized workshops, among them are: Peace and conflict culture and mediation, geopolitics of knowledge, analysis of reality: a methodological proposal for the interpretation of verbal and gestural expression and many others.

What do you consider to be the most important service of your institute?

The participatory and popular methodology as well as the appreciation of the contributions of all participants and their organisations in the training process, which we launch.

How do you evaluate the work of your institute?

During more than 40 years of work, the institution has been able to attain an important recognition and appreciation of its participatory methodology, which has achieved the prestige of our graduates and their organisations. The awareness that knowledge is a collective process, which is jointly designed among the "Speakers" (facilitadores) and the participants of our courses and workshops.

What are the most important developments that you are dealing with at present?

In recent years we have placed the emphasis on the topic of civic action and participation, which has strengthened the fact that the movements and organisations see the importance and realize changes in their social environment.

What are the main difficulties your institute is confronted with in its work?

The main difficulties our institution is facing, concerns the financing of the work, since the institution has no policies of self-financing, but retains through the contribution or sponsorship of donation levels. The current world economic crisis has a direct impact on many of the works to maintain our programs.

What challenges do you perceive for your institute at present?

The accelerated changes in the world and the transition to a new era.

What hopes, dreams and visions do you have for your institute?

During the current period we are working on a new institutional strategic planning and concerning the dreams and visions, we can mention the intention to provide detailed programs for the dissemination of the social magisterium to sectors of the Church in Latin America.

To what extent does your institute support laypeople in the Church and in society?

In more than 40 years of the institution, a high percentage of participants of our education programs come from ecclesial, parish or diocesan movements.

How do you communicate your experiences and results to the respective local church, to neighbouring local churches and to other addressees (e.g. institutions affiliated to you)?

We maintain an institutional website, where we update the relevant information of the institution; we publish a quarterly bulletin, which we distribute to our database.

To what extent does cooperation with the Bishops’ Conference of your country or with your diocese take place?

We have no direct relationship with the bishops' conference at the institutional level; but it enables us personally, as speakers to contribute our knowledge to selective aspects of law and social teaching of the Church.

What linkages/networks are in existence at national level?

Institutionally, we do not participate in any pastoral network at the national level.

What linkages/networks are in existence at international level?

Personally, we participate in the creation of the Latin American network of Christian social teaching.

What kind of interreligious cooperation does take place with non-Christian religions?

Not applicable to the character of our organisation.

What kind of ecumenical cooperation does take place with non-Catholic churches?

For more than 20 years, we maintain formal contacts with EED (organisation of the Evangelical Church in Germany), they contribute to funding our work.

Which theological mergers/associations are you affiliated with (personally or as an institute)?

Institutionally, we have no connection with theological associations but on personal level we are connected with the network of institutions, which spread the social teaching of the church in an effort to create the Latin American Network of Christian social teaching (Red Latinoamericana de Doctrina Social Cristiana). Among the institutions with which we keep in touch, I can name INDOSOC and CELDE.

How can we assist you with your intercontinental exchanges and with exchanges between the continents?

I am saying that a [...] the creation of a network which would be a space for exchanging experiences and where you could share achieved skills of the different actors of the network, will help to consolidate a major force of institutions, which have a clear awareness of their mission in transforming this world.


  1. It would be interesting to know among other things whether course participants are active at parish, diocesan or supra-diocesan level and whether courses are attended by priests, religious or laypeople.
  2. It would be interesting to know among other things whether the staff members of the institute are priests, religious or laypeople.