Alumna Nadiia Sybira ‘18 Reflects on Taize’s ‘Weekend of Friendship’

Nadia Sybira is an alumna of the John Paul II Center, currently undergoing Jewish-Christian studies at the Cardinal Bea Centre of the Gregorian University in Rome, Italy.

I had a chance to participate in a ‘weekend of friendship’ for young Muslims and
Christians at the Taize community in France this past August. The weekend
permitted participants to pray, to share, and to get to know each other in simplicity.
Led by a Muslim imam from Paris and a priest from Lyon, we had a session
devoted to the document published at this year’s historic meeting between Pope
Francis and Grand Imam Ahmed el-Tayeb of Egypt’s Al Azar mosque.

We were introduced to various Muslim groups – Sunni, Shia, Druze, Alawite, and
Ismaili – in order to deepen our faith through common prayer and a shared reading
of the Bible and Qur’an.

Our group concluded that while we have spoken much about living together, now
the time has come to actually do things together. For example during the Taize
meeting in Beirut this past March 25, we had the interfaith celebration of the
Annunciation, which is an official holiday in Lebanon. The emphasis was placed
on dialogue and cohabitation between Muslims and Christians around the figure of
Mary. This beautiful unity was also seen at the statue of Our Lady of Harissa –
Christians and Muslims praying together, thanking Virgin Mary for her obedience.
Common prayer is already the first step on the way to real unity!

I believe these kinds of interreligious meetings give us many opportunities. We
truly lose nothing of our identity in genuine dialogue with believers of other
religions – so long as our own faith is itself deeply rooted and we are mature and
strengthened in our religious identities. My hope for next year’s interreligious
meeting is that the Taize community will also invite Jewish speakers and
participants to have an even more dynamic and fruitful cooperation!