2022 Gathering in Homs (Syria)


28 April - 1 May 2022

At Christmas 2015, Brother Alois went to Syria, visiting Latakia and Homs. He was very impressed by the hospitality he received at a time when the destruction in the city of Homs was terrible to see.

During the international ecumenical youth meeting that took place in Lebanon in March 2019, organised by the Taizé Community in conjunction with the Middle East Council of Churches and the various churches present in Beirut, some sixty young people from Syria who already had links with Taizé managed to join the 1800 other young people who came from various countries of the world to take part in this meeting.

Later, during a visit by a Taizé brother to Syria in February 2020, the small community of Jesuit Fathers in Homs launched the idea of organising, together with Taizé, an ecumenical meeting for young people in Syria for the year 2021. This meeting would take place in Homs, prepared together with the other churches present in this city, and would welcome young Christians from the various regions of Syria, and from different Christian denominations. Because of the political and economic context of the country, it seemed preferable that for the time being only young Syrians participate. For them, it would already be the possibility to live the sign of a possible hope in a general context of a daily life that is and will probably remain for a long time very difficult. Then there was the Covid-19 pandemic which affected Syria like so many other countries in the world and the expected meeting had to be postponed to these days at the end of April 2022, a suitable time for such a gathering.

After months of preparation with the young people of the various Christian communities and the leaders of the different churches present in Homs, in close connection with Taizé, and thanks to the enormous amount of contact and coordination work done locally by the Jesuit Fathers, and to the generous material support of the association Oeuvre d’Orient, without which this youth meeting could not have taken place, the dream finally became reality On April 28. About 750 young people from various regions of Syria and belonging to various churches present in Syria flocked to Homs, on a very beautiful sunny day. This is a very special event for young Christians in this country, which is still terribly marked by the civil war that has ravaged the whole country in recent years, a war that has led to a massive exodus of the population. Economically, the country is at the end of its tether, having been hit even harder by the collapse of the economic and social life of its neighbouring country, Lebanon.

All the young men and women, aged between 18 and 25, were hosted by families in the city of Homs. In this city, ten parishes took charge of the morning activities, with the participation of the different churches present in Homs: Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Syrian Orthodox, Syrian Catholic, Latin Roman, Maronite and Presbyterian. The mornings began with a time of prayer led by members of the Christian community that hosted the pilgrims, according to their own liturgical tradition. Then there was a time of small-group sharing among the young participants. Friday and Saturday afternoons, about fifty workshops allowed all these young people to meet joyfully through creative practical activities such as drawing, theatre, sculpture, singing, music, dance, photography, etc.

Twice a day, at noon and in the evening, a beautiful common prayer gathered all these young people under a vast tent set up near the Jesuit church in Homs. Traditional Arabic songs and Taizé songs in Arabic alternated during these prayers. The main theme of the meeting at Homs was: "How can we live in God’s today, in the reality of our lives today, where we are and where we live."

The crisis all youth are undergoing in Syria is deep. What helps us avoid being paralysed by the difficulties of life? Where can we find the courage of hope to live fully in the present moment? In almost all the exchanges that the Taizé brothers have had over the last few months with the young people of Homs and with those active in youth ministry, this appeal has come up again and again: pray for us, pray that this meeting will go well, that it will be a source of joy and hope for all the young people who will come, that it will help us to live our day in Syria in the trusting of faith, in the assurance that we are not alone, that you are praying with us.

Now that the meeting at Homs is over, and it was wonderfully beautiful beyond all hopes, this same call is meant for each one of us, wherever we live, especially in places in the world where the dignity of human beings is disparaged, and where conflicts and wars continue to bring their load of immense suffereing. May the light of the Risen Christ come to open ways of peace in our hearts, reviving our hope and enabling us to welcome each morning the coming day as a unique, irreplacable day, as God’s today.

Welcome of those arriving on Thursday afternoon

First prayer Thursday evening

Decoration of the prayer space

Prayer around the cross

Young participants the last day

Videos are accessible on line here, for example this evening prayer:

Photos by J. Alkhoueiry, from Lebanon (for Taizé).

Last updated: 29 April 2022