Meeting in Chiloé

Chiloé is an island off the coast of Chile, some 1200 kilometres south of the capital, Santiago. The climate is mainly cool, and people earn their livelihood through fishing and agriculture. How could such a far away island host a meeting in the spirit of Taizé, with the presence of one of the brothers who had come especially from the Taizé fraternity in Brazil?

It so happens that one of the priests from Chacao, a village on the island that welcomed the meeting, has been in touch with Taizé since 1966. The link with Taizé was also made through the “Legua”, a parish in a poor neighbourhood of Santiago, where every week they have a prayer with songs from Taizé, led by an extraordinary music group. For a number of years, this parish has been sending young people to spend three months in Taizé. They also have a long tradition of sending young people off to engage in “people’s missions” in Chiloé, during the vacations. “Chiloé is the spiritual reservoir of Chile”, said one of the priests from the Legua. So this year, the meeting brought together young adults from the Legua and from Chiloé. One of those who took part writes:

“From 6 to 7 February 2004, a small miracle took place on an island close to the Patagonia area of Chile: a Taizé meeting in the little town of Chacao, nearly 14,000 kilometres from Taizé! Nearly eighty young people took part in a wonderful experience of trust and welcoming. They came from many places: USA, Colombia, Ecuador, Spain, Belgium, from the parish of the Legua – one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Santiago, and from Antofagasta in Northern Chile. And what was most important of all, there were young people from the different communities of the island of Chiloé: huilliches and chilotes, farming families and fisher folk from Pulelo, Chacao, Conimo, Tenaun, Quellon, Caulin…

At the beginning we had many doubts, and those who really believed in the idea were few and far between. It is difficult now to describe in words what we experienced. A few images remain engraved on our hearts: spontaneous interventions full of good sense, the simplicity of the prayer, the love and the dedication of the young people from the Legua, the goodness of Fathers José and Andrés, two priests who have just celebrated the fortieth anniversary of their arrival in the lands, the harmonious music: guitar, flutes, violin, organ, and the warmth of the choir voices, the bible introductions, the reflection groups, and the folk dances, the theatrical presentation during the forum on the Saturday, the Our Father sung to the sound of drums in Mapudungun (the language of the indigenous people in the South of Chile), the different services, clearing up the beaches, visiting the sick, reading the message from Brother Roger, visits from the Bishop of Temuco and the coadjutor bishop of Ancud, the ‘sending off’ of Daniel, a young Chilean leaving for Bolivia to help with the preparation for the Taizé meeting that was to take place in El Alto, from 29 April to 3 May. Above all there was the flame of the Spirit, the warmth of trusting, the call to service, the light of hope that shines in the darkness…”

Pentecost at Santiago

For several years, there has been a weekly prayer led by young adults at the Catholic University of Santiago, Chile. Several of the young people have spent three months in Taizé. Some of them participated in the meeting in Chiloë; some helped to lead the singing for the prayers during the meeting in El Alto, Bolivia. For Pentecost, they planned a special prayer and a meeting. The Apostolic Nuncio, Mons. Aldo Cavalii, was to attend, and Brother Roger sent a message for those taking part in the celebration: “… As you meet together to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, I want to tell you that my brothers and I are close to you. You know how attached we are here in Taizé to the young people of Chile and how attentive we are to their search to live in communion with God and with one another…”

Last updated: 19 May 2004