After five days of happiness, the forty thousand young Taizé pilgrims left Geneva the day before yesterday. All agreed that the thirtieth European meeting was a great success. Ninety percent of the participants stayed in families, something unthinkable a month before the gathering; at the end of November there were still 15,000 places to be found. “We are very grateful,” exulted Brother Emile, the member of the community in charge of relations with the media, “The hospitality went beyond anything we could have hoped for.”
A big plus for Geneva
For five days, Geneva was entirely rejuvenated. Groups of pilgrims strolled through the city. No problems were reported either by the police or the organizers. The transit authority put forty extra buses into service. “Everything went well,” reported Catherine Legendre, spokesperson for the TPG. “The drivers said they were happy to hear the young people singing in their vehicles.”
“The meeting will have an impact on Geneva’s image,” estimated Pierre Maudet. That member of the administrative council, who himself welcomed two young people from Belarus, intends to communicate some ideas to the Tourist Bureau. “Whereas Geneva presently focuses on business and upscale tourism, we have seen what these young people, the tourists of tomorrow, can offer.” According to him, it is necessary to develop and offer more guest rooms and improve street signs in the city with this category of visitors in mind.
A boost for ecumenism
“People often criticize Genevans for not being warm enough. This meeting proved the opposite,” commented Manuel Tornare, who represented the city along with Pierre Maudet at the official prayer in Palexpo Sunday evening. “The presence of all those different nationalities did us a lot of good. It is important that in a city as rich as Geneva the question of the sharing of wealth be dealt with,” said Loly Bolay, president of the Grand Council, who also came to Palexpo. ...
The presence of so many young people gave the Churches a shot in the arm. “It was a discovery for parishes that are often in decline,” commented Rev. Roland Benz, one of the initiators of the meeting.
In the Catholic Church, it was noticed that Taizé brought parishioners together. “They discovered a new and very simple way of praying as well,” said Philippe Matthey, the episcopal delegate. “It gave a boost to ecumenical relations. We can only hope it will not just be a flash in the pan,” said Philippe Reymond, moderator of the Company of pastors. The next meeting will be held from December 29th, 2008 to January 2nd, 2009 in Brussels.
Tribune de Genève
03 Janvier 2008