Bosnia-Hercegovina, September 2010

Meeting in Sarajevo

From 3 to 5 September, a new stage of the pilgrimage of trust on earth was held at Sarajevo, in Bosnia-Herzegovina. On the invitation of Cardinal Vinko Puljic and Metropolitan Nikolaï, Brother Alois and brothers of the Community led a meeting that brought together several hundred young adults from various countries of Europe.

The presence of Taizé was keenly felt all over the city during the days before the meeting, when the first volunteers arrived. In spite of so many different languages it was easy to understand each other and organize everything. The official beginning was on Friday 3 September. From early morning, young volunteers welcomed in their parishes young people from different European countries. Pilgrims from Poland, Germany, Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, France, Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Spain, Portugal, Italy… came to Sarajevo to spend three days with young people from Bosnia-Herzegovina and brothers from Taizé; to learn about the city, the country, the people, and to pray together for hope, peace and trust.

Many families opened their homes to the young pilgrims. Over 600 of them arrived. The afternoon prayer was the first event on the program. Sport Hall in Skenderija was decorated like the church in Taizé, with candles, icons and hundreds of young people praying and singing... The hall simply was no longer the same; it was filled with a spirit of communion and joy. The first day ended with evening prayer during which Brother Alois greeted everybody and spoke of the importance of giving and receiving forgiveness:

“And all of us can make this discovery: forgiveness received or given is a source of joy. Knowing that we are forgiven is perhaps one of the deepest, the most liberating joys. That is the source of inner peace that Christ wants to communicate to us. And that inner peace will lead us far; it will shine out to others and in the world.”

The young guests and their hosts began the second day with Morning Prayer in the parishes and the orthodox churches. Afterwards, local teams organized workshops whose purpose was to present people, institutions, and organizations who are particularly striking in their local communities. So, the young people visited different mosques and churches, cultural associations, museums, hospitals and so on.

Afternoon was reserved for nine other workshops that gave the guests a chance to meet people from different religious communities, as well as different cultural and educational institutions. Several official representatives took part in these workshops.

At the end of the afternoon, the pilgrims took part in Vespers, with the blessing of bread, in the Old Orthodox Church.

During the Evening Prayer, the cardinal and the metropolitan expressed their joy and happiness to see this Taizé meeting take place in Bosnia-Herzegovina and bring together so many young people from such different countries.

On the last day of the meeting, there were celebrations in the parishes and in the Orthodox churches. The meeting ended with prayer in Saint Joseph Church.

In their hearts, for all those who were welcomed, as for all those who welcomed, remains a deep sense of joy, hope and happiness given and received.

Tomislava (Bosnia-Herzegovina)

I was enthusiastic about the idea of a meeting in Sarjevo from the very beginning… but it only actually hit me when I saw so many young people from so many different countries in front of Skenderija and when I heard “Sto oko ne vidje...” in the sports hall where we sometimes watch a match. I was so touched: Taizé has come to Bosnia-Herzegovina. I had such nice guests at my home and I met so many fine young people. I wanted so much to show them my dear city and share with them my experience of life here. They gave me much more in return: their compassion, their understanding, their prayers, their hope and their joy.

Nicolas (France)

It is one step after another that peace is built up, Brother Alois confided to us in one of his meditations in Sarajevo. And it was day after day that the pilgrims who had come to Bosnia-Herzegovina from the Balkans and from throughout Europe were able to nourish each other through encounters that were rich in humanity.

As a pilgrim, we are often used to praising the quality of the welcome offered by the families during the Taizé meetings. And I must say without any exaggeration whatsoever that the welcome my family gave us was exceptional. Beyond the accommodation and the food, it was the simplicity of the time that was shared without counting, and the natural goodness in the eyes of my hosts that touched me deeply.

The closeness of my host family and our discussions about this and that in the past, the present and the future also made it possible for me to discover the richness of Bosnia-Herzegovina. This richness remains fragile in some ways however. It requires to be developed in daily life, especially in favour of inter-religious dialogue and the unremitting appearance of initiatives that bring together the divers communities towards a common progress.

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