From 25 to 29 September, Cape Town will host an international youth pilgrimage of trust, organized by the France-based Taizé community. Sarah-Leah Pimentel writes about the healing potential of this event that brings together young people of different faiths and cultures, especially after the violence in South Africa over the last few weeks.
Cape Town will be transformed into a celebration of youth and faith between 25 and 29 September. The long-awaited Taizé pilgrimage will bring together young people aged 17-35 from all over South Africa and the African continent.
The young people will be hosted by parishes of various denominations across Cape Town. Hundreds of parishioners have opened up their homes to welcome the pilgrims from all over the continent and the world. The parishes will host morning prayer each day and offer a series of talks and activities as part of the morning program.
The main afternoon and evening activities will take place at St. Josephs in Rondebosch, where the participants will be able pray together in the characteristic Taizé style of repetitive chants, reflection on the Scriptures, silent reflection and intercessory prayers.
Multiple workshops are also on offer. Some are designed to deepen their prayer life such as “The Word of God, food for our lives,” while others encourage greater communion among people of different cultures and religions with topics like “knowing and loving our neighbours of other religions,” and “African cultures celebrate trust and reconciliation.” There also some practical sessions on “how to release my potential,” “why marriage is still your best option”, and even food for thought for entrepreneurs looking at “how to be Christian in the corporate world.”
We all need hope after weeks of violence
The most debilitating part of the xenophobic violence and the horrific killings of so many women in our country in the past few weeks, is that our sense of trust and hope has been corroded. We are filled with fear and anger, which prevents us from reaching out to one another.
The Taizé pilgrimage of hope is about so much more than young people coming together to celebrate their faith. The simple act of families opening their homes to strangers is a strong witness to trust and Christian love for neighbour in a time of fear.
By celebrating their cultural and religious diversity, the young people themselves are witnesses of hope that we can build a better world — a world that celebrates difference, a world that can find shared values, a world in which ethnic and gender violence have no place.
This coming together of faith, spearheaded by the youth in conjunction with the Taizé community, stands as a proactive example of how we can come together to begin to heal the suffering of the past few weeks.
Pilgrimage “generates new hope for the future”
Br Alois, the prior of the Taizé in October 2018, expressed his enthusiasm to for South Africa hosting the Cape Town edition of the pilgrimage of trust, in an interview with spotlight.africa.
He said that Taizé has “deep links with South Africa” and highlighted the huge “potential among the young people,” who have “a lot of vitality, a lot of energy.” Br. Alois also admitted that Africa and the world face “great difficulties” and that this brings “sometimes even hopelessness.”
It is precisely gatherings like the Taizé pilgrimage of trust to Cape Town that “gives hope to the young people in South Africa.” When “young people [come] together from many different backgrounds, and also such different countries,” it becomes an opportunity to “generate new hope for the future.”
This pilgrimage serves as a reminder that “Christ brings us together” as church, as a “place of friendship where people come together from many different backgrounds.” Filled with the hope of Christ, “economic problems, can be overcome.”