We're on our way, our journey begins! Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu writes about the hopes and expectations for the week ahead.
Taizé Day 1 – Saturday 14 July 2018
The day has arrived: after months of planning and high expectations, today the Yorkshire Schools Pilgrimage to Taizé becomes a reality. There are four coaches and 165 people heading out of York and down to Calais, towards the Taizé Community in France for a week of prayer, reflection, service and relaxation. The young people on board, ranging in age from 14 to 18, have all participated in my Youth Trust’s Young Leaders Award. and have worked hard and completed some amazing voluntary work in their local communities. My prayer for them now is that they will enjoy this opportunity to be refreshed during this week among the Brothers and all those gathered at the Taizé Community.
There is a lengthy journey of over 700 miles ahead and we will be very tired when we arrive, but the travel is well worthwhile. Taizé’s warm welcome is known worldwide and its profound atmosphere of peace and prayer enables amazing things to happen. I am thrilled that this year even more young people have joined the pilgrimage and when we arrive we’ll be joined by almost 3,000 more from all over the world, for this week is Schools Week at Taizé.
Today, 14 July, is not only an important day for our pilgrims; it is also a special day in France. Bastille Day commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789 and the wider liberation of the French people from government oppression. How appropriate then that as our coaches head down the M1 the young people aboard are being freed from life as they know it; (being encouraged to let go of their mobile ‘phones during Taizé was a brave first step and took courage for some), choosing to look beyond what is familiar into the unknown. The Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways so I am fully expecting some startling faith stories to emerge during the next week and beyond.
Breakfast in Taizé tomorrow morning will mark our arrival. Just as the Lord Jesus fed the five thousand, so too the Brothers at Taizé will feed thousands of weary souls as we embark on a week of discoveries and adventures.
The seven schools represented here are Archbishop Sentamu Academy, Archbishop Holgate’s School, All Saints Ingleby Barwick, Manor CE Academy, Abbey Grange Academy, Barlby High and Holy Trinity Barnsley. Young people from each school will be posting a daily blog so watch out for regular updates; I hope that the young leaders’ accounts of their experiences will inspire you also to ‘be the change’ in your local community. Stories of faith can be inspirational for us all, particularly when experienced by young people so don’t miss out: follow us on our journey as we all enjoy exploring life and faith more deeply. With every update, learn more about Taizé from the young people’s perspective and even more importantly, discover a new flourishing in yourself too. How fantabulous that would be!