2019 Cape Town

Echoes of the meeting

Young adults from Klerksdorp, Polokwane, Swaziland, Mauritius and beyond came to participate in the Taizé Community’s Pilgrimage of Trust on Earth in Cape Town, from 25-29 September, delighted in the atmosphere of the common prayer and sharing, Nearly two thousand young adults gathered from 17 African countries, 14 European countries, the USA and the islands of Madagascar and Mauritius.

Jean Evans, from South Africa, writes:

The gathering, with the theme "Let Us Not Forget Hospitality," held at St. Joseph Marist College, Rondebosch, was the culmination of eighteen months of visits by brothers of the Ecumenical Community of Taizé, France, to local Cape Town communities of Anglicans, Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists and other denominations to encourage youth participation in the meeting.

This was not the first visit of brothers of Taizé to the Cape however. In 1978, during the repressive period of the apartheid laws, Brother Roger, the founder of the Community of Taizé, visited Crossroads, He wanted to show solidarity with the victims suffering from South Africa’s oppressive policies. He asked a woman if he could make the sign of the Cross in her hand and encouraged each one to express in this silent gesture their sharing in the sufferings of Christ.

Br. Roger returned to South Africa in 1995 to celebrate with the youth South Africa’s peaceful transition to a non-racial, non-sexist democratic society. This time the meeting was held at the Standard Bank Arena in Johannesburg at the invitation of church leaders from national and local churches.

As he welcomed everyone to the 2019 Cape Town Pilgrimage of Trust, Brother Alois, who succeeded Br. Roger as the Community’s Prior in 2005, urged all the participants: "Let us allow the Word of Christ to resonate in our hearts: Blessed are the peacemakers!"

On Friday September 27, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, came to wish the participants his blessing. In the 1970’s the Archbishop arranged, with the help of Taizé to bring 144 young people to the Taizé Community. Taking his inspiration from the Book of Revelation, the Archbishop brought “members of every tribe, tongue and people and nation” within South Africa to show the unity of God’s children, despite Government policies of separate development.

After flights and long bus journeys, weary travellers arrived at the meeting venue from all parts of southern Africa, Europe and even the USA. They came to the "Tent Chapel" for the meeting and found themselves in a place of calmness, prayer and song with the brothers of Taizé. Pilgrims from Botswana were happily surprised at "the freedom of the young people to express themselves." A teacher from Mpumalanga said, "It is so nice! There are so many people in one place. It’s amazing." A young priest said, "Even though we are from different backgrounds, we’re able to share. We can approach anyone without fear."

The Generous Hospitality of Local Parishes

Local parishes and families offered accommodation to the young people. Participants expressed their gratitude for the welcome and thoughtfulness of their hosts: Thabiso from Soweto was very touched at the graciousness of his hosts, an elderly couple who welcomed them. The wife was blind, he said, "And she trusted us to come into her house without seeing us." One young girl from Kenya said, "The host family really gave of themselves."

A Pilgrim from Mauritius

Ludovic, a pilgrim who arrived from Mauritius quickly saw some similarities between life in South Africa and Mauritius. They are both like a paradise with their lovely beaches. There are different cultures living together. In Mauritius the majority of the people are Hindus, Christians, Muslim, Ba’hai, and Jewish. He iwas especially touched by the Word of God as it affirms Christianity. Ludovic has ”been organising events in the Diocese and though the group has been small, they are progressing,” he said.

What was really wonderful for Ludovic? "I’ll always remember the smile of (Rev) Wilma, still smiling and giving a warm welcome, even at midnight!"

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Programme for the Morning

The daily programme included breakfast at the host family and meeting for an 8:00 am Morning Prayer held in the parish church. This was followed by visits and meetings with “people of hope” locally. Afterwards, small groups continued with the question, “How can I help others to grow in confidence?...in trusting others?...in trusting God?

Around 11:00 am, the pilgrims departed from the host churches to St. Joseph’s where they could pick up their meals and then practice songs for the Common Prayer at 1:00 pm. During the afternoons there were workshops exploring such themes as “Listening to God in the silence of our hearts,” Jesus Christ’s invitation to “come to him and find rest in him”; African cultures celebrated trust and reconciliation at a forum with contributions from various countries and regions—song and dance. Another session was “Meeting Christ in the Excluded and Forgotten” presented by Missionaries of Charity, “Tie the Knot, not the Noose. Why marriage is still your best option” presented by Franci and Sven, a recently married couple who met in Cape Town while serving in their church youth group. “How to be a Christian in the corporate world: Challenges and opportunities to witness to Christ,” a reflection and sharing by Heinrich Jantjies, Cape Town, Christians in politics: Engaging in public service without betraying the Gospel—a reflection by Steve Swart, Member of Parliament, South Africa, “Christ is praying for Christian Unity—coming together under one roof in order to bear witness to unity,” presented by Br. Alois, Prior of the Taizé Community, France, and “Exchanging gifts between communities,” Dr. Cleve McIntosh, Limpopo.

Last updated: 4 October 2019