2017 Taize Pilgrimage
Loyola University Chicago has been organizing an annual pilgrimage to the ecumenical community of brothers in Taizé, France, for over a decade. The trip is a simple one and invites students to spend their entire spring break from Sunday to Sunday in prayer, community, and simplicity. In 2017, Loyola Chicago brought six students and two staff members from Campus Ministry half-way across the globe for a week of prayer. The days are quite simple and consist of three daily prayer services, three basic meals, bible study, faith sharing groups, and community work. Each day affords opportunities for long walks in the countryside as well as each night often has groups of energetic young people singing and enjoying time with one another.
One of our students described Taizé as a place of "joy and love abounding," while another reflected more practically that "the ground is made of mud, the bathrooms smell and the only kind of milk present would be in powder form. However, if anyone were to ask if they should in fact make the journey across the ocean I would immediately say yes."
Many of our students often reflect back on the opportunity for prayer and silence. One of our Loyola students commented that she "found [herself] finding out what it meant to pray, and finding out what it truly meant to be thankful, and to sometimes just enjoy silence, which I don't have the luxury of doing in my daily life." When asked why the time at Taizé was so touching, another of our students commented, "There is no one reason that I can point to as to why my time here was so profound. All I can say is that I genuinely felt happy, and I have not had that experience for a while."
Steve Betancourt, Campus Minister, observed "that meals and accommodations are extremely simple, the prayer spiritually nourishing, and the encounters and moments of grace during the week are things money simply cannot purchase. Our students choose to go for many reasons, but for me, the ability to be in prayer and to observe the world working toward peace and reconciliation in this week of community life is a balm for my soul."