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Pilgrimage to Taizé

Bishop Olivia and a group of young people from the diocese standing in a group smiling.The times we are in are confusing and challenging in so many ways. But pilgrimage gives us the possibility of new perspectives, and the chance to go out from ourselves and return changed.  

Three weeks ago a small group from Oxford Diocese gathered at St Pancras International and took a train to France, changing in Paris and onwards to the town of Macon in the Burgundy region.  A bus ride later and we found ourselves in the tiny village of Taizé, which is home to a community of Brothers which dates back to WW2 – a place of welcome and hospitality, of friendship and discovery, of building trust and finding God in relationship with others. Every week the community of around 80 Brothers, supported by Sisters who live nearby and many volunteers, receives and welcomes hundreds or thousands of mainly young people who are looking for something.

Along with around 1800 others from across the world, we spent a week in a simple rhythm of prayer and worship, eating together, bible study and discussion, and shared work tasks. There was plenty of time for walking in the beautiful Burgundy hills, for fun and games, and for discovering more about people from dozens of countries and language groups – casual conversations, shared jokes, deep listening, and a chance to be very open about who we are and the things that matter to us.  

Here are some comments from those who came:

“I can’t believe it’s almost a week since we returned from Taizé! Monday threw me straight back into the hectic pace of modern life but with a renewed peaceful energy and music still in my ears … everyone seemed to be inspired and to be having a wonderful time. 

“Taize is religion at its best: ecumenical, accepting, structured yet relaxed, communal yet with plenty of personal freedom, close to nature and graced by beautiful music from around the world. I would encourage anyone to go, regardless of faith or age – all you need is an open heart and mind and sensible camping gear!”

“I love the simplicity of Taizé. The simple but adequate food; a pair of shorts and a T-shirt for clothes; being outside much of the time; the simple but beautiful prayer sung and shared with thousands of others; the easy conversations struck up with people from all over the world. There’s a lot of joy. Taizé is one of those ‘thin’ places where you can feel the presence of God."

Field at Taize

“This was my first trip to Taize, but I’m certain it won’t be my last! There is something very special about the whole place that is hard to quantify. The corporate worship in a vast church filled with 1500 mostly young people was very powerful - the act of so many voices united in song, often in languages that weren’t our own, exemplified the entire ethos of Taize to me. Going with a group from the Diocese was wonderful, and gave us a chance to bond over shared new experiences." 

“In Taizé I found the voice of the Holy Spirit in the silent prayers. I experienced trust and strong sense of community. It was such a spiritually enriching experience!" 

We realised many things while we were away. We found that we belong to each other and that we are part of the people of God - wonderful, colourful, diverse, joyful, and vibrant. We discovered afresh the importance of relationships with people who are very different from us. We let ourselves be shaken up and challenged. We came home with an inkling that we could be part of a different world, and that it might start with us.  

Find out more about Taizé, and to register interest in joining the group next August, contact the Bishop of Reading’s office.

Page last updated: Thursday 1st September 2022 3:03 PM
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