Over 20 young pilgrims from throughout the diocese returned from Taizé in France last week. Pilgrims from Tarbert, Killarney, Beaufort, Fossa, Tralee and Listowel, along with three leaders, embarked from Dublin airport on Sunday morning, June 23rd and flew into Lyon airport. We traveled by bus from Lyon to the village of Taizé, deep in the French countryside.
The Taizé Community is made up of over a hundred brothers, Catholics and from various Protestant backgrounds, coming from around thirty nations. By its very existence, the community is a “parable of community” that wants its life to be a sign of reconciliation between divided Christians and between separated peoples.
The brothers of the community live solely by their work. They do not accept donations. In the same way, they do not accept personal inheritances for themselves; the community gives them to the very poor.
On arrival in Taizé we were allocated our rooms and then we had supper; cold water in a plastic red bowel, cold pasta, a slice of bread and a small piece of cheese, all part of the Taizé experience! We then attended evening prayer in the Church of Reconciliation. This initial experience for the young people is amazing. They all sit on the floor or use the famous Taizé stools, they sing the famous Taizé chants and take part in a communal prayer like no other. our pilgrims were very struck with the ten minute silences at each prayer. After evening prayer the young people socialise at the Oyak with Christians from all over the world.
Each day at Taizé begins with morning prayer at 8:15am, this is followed by breakfast, for the young pilgrims this comprises of hot chocolate, bread and a small piece of chocolate. In the mid morning the pilgrims go to bible study and then they partake in tasks like hoovering the church, cleaning the bedrooms and bathrooms, washing up or helping prepare for the liturgies. This helps the young people to bond with other nationalities. Mid-day prayer is at 12:20pm and this is followed by lunch at 1:15pm. In the afternoons the pilgrims meet again with smaller bible groups and discuss what they studied at the morning sessions. Some pilgrims partake in more tasks or have free time. The famous lemon tea and something sweet is served at 5pm and then the students play sports or have some rest.
Supper is served at 7pm and evening prayer takes place at 8:20pm. Social time happens at the Oyak where the pilgrims can make more noise than is usually allowed in Taizé, sing songs, dance and have lots of fun generally! There is a shop at the Oyak where pilgrims can stock up on biscuits, crisps and ice-cream! Some pilgrims head back to the church to pray or sing.
What struck me on our departure from Taizé was the number of young people crying as they had to leave old and new friends behind. This unique faith experience was one that our young people will not forget. They all hope to return again in 2020 and plan to meet other Irish pilgrims from other diocese throughout the year.
Contact Tomás Kenny for more information about Taizé at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 086 3683778.