Taizé St Louis was billed as a year-long initiative to build trust in the St. Louis area, culminating in a Memorial Day weekend of prayer, conversation, friendship, and pilgrimage. At the invitation of Archbishop Robert Carlson, hundreds of young adults (and some of us not so young) came together from throughout North America to focus on healing divisions. Several Taizé Brothers from France had already been present in the city for many months of preparation.

The weekend bonded us first by hours of prayer together in the style of the Taizé community. Song, Scripture, and silence united us, and we seemed to breathe in unison the chant, “The Kingdom of God is justice and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.  Come, Lord, and open in us the gates of your kingdom.” Workshops invited us to look at how to be servant leaders in times of racial bias, to offer healing and learn the art of forgiveness, and to recognize the wisdom of persons like Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, and Brother Roger, founder of Taizé.

Walking the streets of St. Louis together on Sunday was greatly enriched by the variety of colors and creeds.  As I introduced myself as “Sr. Elisa” to several women in hijabs, they smilingly told me that they, too, are “sisters”. I was pleased to promise them prayer for their time of Ramadan.

The brothers of Taizé have a unique charism of ecumenism and reconciliation that promotes authentic encounter. This was very evident here.  May these recent events be a sign of improved healing in our troubled city and world.

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