African Youthful Pilgrims in Benin Conclude “searching together the paths of hope”
CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 05 September 2016
The fourth Taizé youth meeting in Africa, which brought together some 7,500 youth in Benin, most of whom were Africans, concluded Sunday, September 4, with the participants taking delight in and embracing the theme: “searching together the paths of hope.”
“In a context of economic vulnerability, uncertainty, and the accumulation of tensions and crises, the theme ‘searching together the paths of hope’ has met the aspiration of many young people: to take control of her life,” states in part the communiqué at the conclusion of the five day pilgrimage.
The communiqué recalls the main events, which the youth from 35 different countries experienced and cite the common prayer with meditations by Brother Alois, the linking of faith and life by the 30 facilitators of workshops, as well as “the hospitality in families and the welcome of the local communities.”
While Benin had the largest African delegation as the host nation, the other large delegations came from Togo (800), Nigeria (550), Burkina Faso (163), Ghana (100), and Ivory Coast (46).
The international youth meeting was organized by the Taizé Community in Benin’s capital Cotonou, the Catholic Church and the Methodist Protestant Church of Benin spearheading the local arrangements.
Dubbed “pilgrimage of trust,” the three previous meetings took place in Johannesburg (1994), Nairobi (2008) and Kigali (2012).
Below is the full text of the communiqué at the conclusion of Cotonou meeting, sent to CANAA Monday, September 5, 2016.
Communiqué at the conclusion of the Fourth Taizé Youth Meeting in Africa: Cotonou, August 31 – September 4, 2016
“Where will the next stage of the Pilgrimage of Trust take place? Even if it’s at the other end of the world I want to go there!” The question was on many lips at the departure of the buses near the college Père Aupiais.
The fourth stage of the Pilgrimage of Trust on earth has ended Sunday, September 4, 2016 in Cotonou. It brought together 7500 participants from thirty five nationalities. Besides those from Benin, the largest delegations were made by the Togolese (800), Nigerians (550), the Burkinabe (163), Ghanaians (100), Ivorians (46) … Linguistic diversity required the use of French, English and Fon during the workshops and forums. The liturgy incorporated also songs in Yoruba and mina.
At their arrival caution and wariness marked the faces of the young people but they quickly caught up with the rhythm of the meeting: mornings in the neighborhoods, afternoon together at the central venue. During the 5:00pm break, the drums came out and many groups started to dance under the Caïlcédrats trees expressing the gratitude and joy of all participants. The event, a premiere in the region, showed the capacity of young people to cross national, linguistic, cultural or religious boundaries and also to take a personal commitment to build trust and peace.
In a context of economic vulnerability, uncertainty, and the accumulation of tensions and crises, the theme “searching together the paths of hope” has met the aspiration of many young people: to take control of her life. The common prayer with Brother Alois’ meditations, the input of thirty facilitators during the afternoon workshops, linking life and faith, the hospitality in families and the welcome of the local communities were the main elements of this experience.
Reminding participants that the source of hope is to be found in Christ, Brother Alois explained the basis of the search for unity “Christ did not come to create a group of disciples who distinguish themselves from others, who stand apart, live in opposition to the rest of humanity. He came to abolish the divisions between humans and to unite us in God. He came to bring all humans together in God’s love. Hearing and internalizing this Gospel message of unity can give us great dynamism. To express this message through our lives can even become the very meaning of our existence.”
The smooth organization of the visitors’ welcome in the host parishes managed by young people from Cotonou, the active participation of all in the program, the effectiveness of logistic teams also formed by young volunteers attested the capacity of young people to take upon themselves significant responsibilities.
The good performance of companies and partners contracted to provide transportation, meal preparation, tents installation, disposal of garbage, health coverage have contributed, with the good weather to the smooth running of the meeting.
The Minister of Youth, Mr. Oswald Homeky came to greet the participants at the opening Wednesday, August 31. Besides national youth chaplains from different countries, several bishops and leaders of Protestant churches took part in the common prayers among which: Mgr Antoine Ganye, archbishop administrator of Cotonou, the Rev. Matthew Alao, representing the Rev. Nicodemus Alagbada president of the Protestant Methodist Church of Benin Bishop Isaac Gaglo and Bishop Nicodemus Barrigah Togo, Bishop Gabriel Mante Ghana, Bishop Cletus Feliho, Bishop Paul Viera of Benin and Archbishop Brian Udaigwe the apostolic nuncio in Benin and Togo.