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Brother Emile comes from the Taize community in France and has been in Chicago since February to prepare for the Pilgrimage of Trust at DePaul University, May 25-28.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Preparing a Pilgrimage of Trust in Chicago

These last few weeks have been intense for our small preparation team in Chicago. We have crisscrossed the city, admiring its beauty, thankful for the privilege of getting to know so many witnesses of hope and so many interesting communities. The stark contrasts between rich and poor, abundant wealth and sheer misery, have reminded us of the urgency expressed by Brother Alois in his letter for 2012: Towards a new solidarity.

“What are for you some of the antonyms and synonyms of trust?” We have sat down with many groups from all over the city and in may suburbs to think about this simple question. It generally takes only a few minutes to realize how vital trust is. And how we long for it.

Sometimes people ask: “What do you mean by trust? Do you mean trust in God or trust in people?” It's thought-provoking to allow the word to resonate in all its dimensions. We come to realize that the spiritual, personal, social, ecclesial are all interconnected.

To several groups I mentioned what happened during our Pilgrimage of Trust back in 1991. Thousands of young people gathered in Budapest from all over Europe. We were hard pressed to find accommodation for everyone. One family offered to take in four people, but they wrote at the bottom of their offer: “Please no Romanians.” The animosity between Hungarians and Romanians is a well-known fact. Unintentionally four young Romanians were sent to that family. We never found out what happened until our second Pilgrimage of Trust in the Hungarian capital, ten years later. The same family came forward, with the same offer: “We want to welcome four young people.” And they added: “Please send us Romanians!”

We are now just a few days away from our Pilgrimage of Trust in Chicago. Groups and individuals have already registered from all over the country and even from further away. We are particularly looking forward to welcoming the group coming from South Dakota, including many Native Americans, and another group from New Mexico. We have made good progress in finding accommodation for everyone and are now very near our goal.

The Sullivan Athletic Center (2323 N. Sheffield) will be the place of prayer for our Memorial Day weekend. The theatre school at DePaul has taken on the project of transforming this sports center into a wonderful place of prayer. All the prayers are open to the public.

It is interesting that, just a week before our gathering, the Nato summit will be held in Chicago. We remember that the first young adult gatherings in Taizé took place in the same years as the student protests of the late 1960s. The same question is still with us: how to turn our frustration at the injustices in our world to a positive end, how can we create all together a new solidarity that leads to the birth of a better world? And where can we find the energies to commit ourselves in this way? We hope that the pilgrimage of trust in Chicago will be a step forward in this direction.

For more information on the Taizé Pilgrimage of Trust, see

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