Fifty years on, we still believe in our strategy.
On 15 April 1965 Father Barbieri founded COOPI. This was to be the start of a journey spanning fifty years during which COOPI and Italian international cooperation, in all their various aspects, have expanded and transformed themselves. Yet COOPI’s story begins before 1965 – in 1961, in fact, when Vincenzo Barbieri, a young Jesuit priest, was sent by his superiors to study at the Faculty of Theology in Lyon, France, with a view to going to Chad as a missionary. Barbieri found the cultural environment in France to be much more lively and open than the one he experienced in provincial Italy in the years prior to the Second Vatican Council. In Lyon he came into contact with international secular movements which had been engaged in voluntary work in developing countries for many years. In 1962, Barbieri turned down the opportunity to depart as a missionary himself and returned to Milan with the intention of training volunteers to depart for countries in the Global South. he introduced the secular component into missionary activities.