12/29/2005, 00.00
ITALY - ASIA
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Frère Aloïs: Taizé pilgrimage to be held in Calcutta in October

The community hopes for a revival of the first meeting held in Asia in 1976 by frère Roger, who lived in Calcutta for some years. The loss of frère Roger is a "terrible, overwhelming void".

Milan (AsiaNews) – A Community of Taizé pilgrimage of "trust on earth" will take place in Calcutta from 5 to 9 October next year. Frère Aloïs, the successor of frère Roger, announced the decision to AsiaNews during a meeting in Milan which has gathered together 50,000 youth from 45 countries. He said: "Young people want to meet without barriers and at the same time, they want to understand and share the needs of others. We have decided to go for Asia because it is a continent with great spiritual reserves. The history of Taizé in Asia is relatively short: there are communities of brothers in Bangladesh, Mymensingh and a sparse presence in South Korea and the Philippines. Some go back 30 years: small but significant."

"The city chosen for the pilgrimage is Calcutta, huge, lively Calcutta, with many social problems but also with a strong will to live. We have reached agreements with the city's archbishop and with the bishops' conference and we will hold joint activities of prayer and solidarity. The meetings will be held at the Salesian university and young people will be hosted by families. The dates have been fixed for 5 to 9 October. I don't know who will come, not even how many will come: they could come from Korea, from Japan – they would be able to pay for the flight – but I fear that those from Bangladesh and other poor countries will not be able to come."

"The important thing for us is the revival of the first meeting in Asia in 1976, held by frère Roger, who lived for some years right in Calcutta, where he met Mother Teresa. Frère Roger started international pilgrimages "of trust" in 1985 in Madras in India. Now after, many years, we are returning practically to the beginning. Then there was frère Roger; now we take up in Calcutta again without the visible presence of our founder."

In his message for this pilgrimage, Benedict XVI paid homage to frère Roger who, wrote the Pope, "wanted these international encounters to instill in young Christians a spirit of brotherhood and lived peace". How is life in Taizé without frère Roger?

"We all feel a terrible, overwhelming void. It's clear that no one can take his place, we are all unique. But it is a wound we all carry within and which does not lessen with time. An important thing is that his loss – certainly only visible, because I feel he helps me and sustains us – is uniting us more than ever. There is very strong mutual love and support, the fruit of the invisible help of frère Roger".

His was a death which was almost "banal", obvious: killed by an unbalanced woman, in the choir, in the presence of 2,500 people in prayer. Did you ever wonder why frère Roger was killed and the meaning behind his death?

"It's a question that none of us in the community have managed to answer. The only sense is that frère Roger became a sacrificial lamb, a sort of scapegoat who that unbalanced woman wanted to and planned to eliminate. She had prepared this move a long time before, she had got the ticket to come to Taizé, the knife to cut his throat… unbalanced people often become obsessed with good people, they try to wipe them off the face of the earth.

"But the work of frère Roger did not end with his death. For us, that was immediately clear. When we realized what had happened, we did not withdraw into ourselves, into our suffering: we had 2,500 people, youth, before us. We stayed with them, we prayed with them and we want to press ahead with this responsibility."

Today's world offers young people artificial and virtual paradise, characterised by disengagement from reality, or else a commitment, career, power lived for oneself. What can Taizé offer to young people?

"Taizé offers the path of contemplation, a deeper look at reality and commitment and solidarity towards our neighbours."

  • Frère Aloïs, the first successor of the founder of Taizé, was born on 11 June 1954 in Baviera, to parents of then-Czechoslovakia and in 1984 he took on French nationality. A Catholic, after spending some periods of time in Taizé, he stayed on there as "permanent" to help in welcoming young people. Some months later, in 1974, he joined the community. Since then, he has lived in Taizé. He has undertaken several trips for the community to Central and Eastern European countries to support Christians in these places, at the time still under Soviet influence. In recent years, frère Aloïs coordinated the organisation of the international meetings of Taizé and European meetings in several European capitals.

In January 1998, in line with Taizé regulations, frère Roger, in agreement with his brothers, designated him as his successor in the chapter of the community. Very tired as a result of his years, in January 2005, Frère Roger had announced that frère Aloïs would start his ministry this year.

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