Category Archives: Timisoara/Romania 2023

Extended registrations!

Extended registrations!

Friends of Together for Europe in Timisoara

The new edition of the annual meeting of the ‘Friends of Together for Europe’ takes us to Romania, in Timisoara, one of the cities designated as ‘European Cultural Capital 2023’.

Preparations have been underway for months. Prominent representatives of various Churches and Movements/Communities are expected to attend, including the President of the Focolare Movement, Margaret Karram, and a number of politicians, including the undersecretary for culture of the Romanian government, Ciprian Vasile Olinci.

The days in Timisoara will also be an opportunity to meet more closely with Christians from various local Churches.

The choice of place was the result of an invitation from the Roman Catholic bishop, József-Csaba Pál, who gave these reasons for his gesture: “In 2016 I attended a larger Together for Europe event in Munich. I really enjoyed it and thought: ‘these people from different denominations are doing what I have always dreamed of: living joyfully in unity, in the presence of God.’ Now they must witness this unity in God also in Timisoara.”

In order to give you still a chance to participate, REGISTRATION IS PROLONGED UNTIL 15 OCTOBER through the QR Code on the Flyer or with the link //

The International Secretariat

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Why to go to Timisoara?

Why to go to Timisoara?

To know, to deepen, to build

Timişoara (Romania) is with two other cities the 2023 ‘European Capital of Culture’.  Roman Catholic Bishop Pál József Csaba of Timişoara invited the annual meeting of the Friends of Together for Europe (TfE) to his city (16-18/11/2023).

Some friends of TfE express here why they will attend the meeting.

Cezara Delia Perian, from the Orthodox youth group in Timisoara:

I am in favour of a Christian Europe with Christian principles. I would like to hear about the experiences in the context of TfE. And as a citizen of Timisoara, I want to present my city, which, for centuries has been an example of peaceful coexistence between different minorities, Churches, Movements and ecclesial cultures. Therefore, I kindly invite you to the Friends of TfE 2023 meeting in Timisoara, with the promise of an extraordinary meeting and a unique experience.

Soňa Jančíková, TfE Steering Committee, European Network of Communities ENC, Slovak Republic:

Since unity is written very deep in my heart, I decided to join TfE. I would like to meet new people and get to know what is in their hearts. In the ENC we have communities from Romania and I love this country. It is very important that this meeting takes place in the East of Europe and we are looking forward to seeing how great the potential of this country is, so that the rest of Europe will be based more on Christian values.

Philipp Barthel, TfE Steering Committee, YMCA Munich, Germany:

Why do I go to the TfE meeting in Timisoara? Because I want to personally experience the faith of Christians of different Churches, nationalities and ages.

Reydibel Mesa, Focolare Movement, Hungary:

I think this meeting will be a moment of brotherhood and peace in Europe. It will be days where we can experience the strength of the unity of peoples united in God: young people, adults, from different countries and different Christian Churches, but all Together.

Gérard Testard, Efesia, France:

We are walking on the road opened up by the founders of Europe and all those, who, throughout history, did not accept conflict as a fatality, but committed themselves to breaking down barriers.

Mgr Pál József Csaba, Bishop in Timisoara:

By your presence you show Romania the beauty of the Christian faith.

Cinzia Panero, Focolare Movement, Serbia:

For me TfE is a network of life, of shared experiences, of intentions
dreamed and achieved with others in a common concrete work. We experienced it last March in Belgrade: the Institute for the Study of Culture and of Christianity and the Focolare Movement in Serbia, we realised the Exhibition-art competition “The world in an image, image of the world” between Serbian artists of various religious faiths and nationalities, with the support of the Ministry for Cooperation between religious communities. The meeting in Timisoara will be an opportunity to strengthen our friendship, open up to new experiences, build relationships in a real network, tangible, fraternal network.

Beatriz Lauenroth

Photos: private


Why Together for Europe is going to Timisoara

Why Together for Europe is going to Timisoara

Three questions to Bishop József-Csaba Pál, Timisoara (Romania)

“This is the time when, in addition to cultural initiatives in museums and in holding memorials, we must also open the doors of our Churches to show the Christian roots of our people, our country and our city.” This was the reaction of Roman Catholic Bishop József-Csaba Pál (born in 1955) upon the announcement of the nomination of Timisoara as one of the three European Capitals of Culture for 2023.

What does this mean concretely?

  • You have been the Roman Catholic Bishop of Timisoara since 2018. It must have been a great joy for you when you learned that Timisoara was awarded the coveted title of “European Capital of Culture” for 2023. What do you think is the motivation for such a decision?

For centuries, in Timisoara, the many different Churches and nationalities have peacefully lived side by side. They have been able to preserve their respective identity, and in this coexistence, diversity was seen as a mutual gift. Through living in families of mixed marriages and in mixed neighbourhoods they learned to respect and appreciate one another. That is why I think Timisoara has this experience to offer Europe: the spirit of peaceful coexistence.

  • After eight months as “European Capital of Culture,” what do you think is Timisoara’s current contribution to today’s Europe?

In the spirit of multiculturalism there have been many cultural programmes.

For example, with young people we organized a week-long Ecumenical Youth Festival from 1st – 7th May. In the past our ancestors were driven to Timisoara by unemployment or the demand for certain professions. Today we also give a foundation to our living together but from a Christian point of view: we are all children of our heavenly Father. For His glory we want His children to get along with one another, to help and love each other. This should be the visible sign that Timisoara gives to Europe.

Young people from seven Churches and many different languages worked for fourteen months to prepare this Youth Festival. In the preparatory phase they said to themselves: the Festival must emanate something youthful, Christian and in the spirit of unity. And they succeeded: about 30 programmes, including a play staged in the Timisoara Opera Hall, a procession through the city in which we visited several Churches, a meditation during a boat trip on the Bega Canal, various lectures, a Gen Verde concert in the Timisoara Philharmonic Hall, etc… In addition, an ecumenical choir was formed comprising 40 young people who currently perform in different venues.

  • Why did you extend the invitation to organise the Annual meeting of “Friends of Together for Europe” in November in your city? What do you expect from it?

In 2016 I attended a larger event of Together for Europe in Munich. I really enjoyed it and thought: these people from different Churches are doing what I have always dreamed of: living joyfully in unity in the presence of God. This is an overwhelming testimony. Now they must also witness this unity in God in Timisoara. When they come to Timisoara, we will strengthen each other in this very commitment.

Thank you for this conversation.

Beatriz Lauenroth

Photo: Bishop József-Csaba Pál during the Ecumenical Youth Festival, Timisoara May 2023


Exchange and inspiration

Exchange and inspiration

Ecumenical Youth Festival 2023 in Timisoara

Jean Marc Ziadé (27), born in Lebanon and raised in Luxembourg, currently works as a sales and events manager at a conference centre in the Netherlands. From 4th to 7th May, he attended the Ecumenical Youth Festival in Timisoara, Romania.

Why did you attend the meeting?

First of all, I like to travel and I am interested in other countries and cultures.
It was very enriching for me to visit an Eastern European country, Romania, for the first time. I was amazed by all that Timisoara has to offer. Thanks to a guide and involvement in the local community, we were able to better understand, among other things, the bloody revolution of 1989 and how it still influences culture, people and the economy today. Thanks to the many events and conversations, the Ecumenical Youth Festival has given me a lot of inspiration and is – I believe – a positive surprise for the future of the Church!

What inspired you most?

I was most impressed by the motivation of the young people. It is amazing how they used different forms of artistic expression, such as music and theatre, videos and life testimonies, to create an unforgettable and meaningful experience.
The international music group Gen Verde, the theatrical performances largely created by young people, beautiful songs, workshops on dialogue and the ‘Economy of Francis’ (young entrepreneurs working for a new economy) were not only entertaining, but also brought depth and reflection to the festival.

What do you take away from Timisoara?

Certainly, the living faith I found there and the ecumenical aspect have left a lasting impression on me. I think not everyone understands what ecumenism means. This trip allowed me to discover the different denominations and the cooperation between the Churches, from Greek Orthodox, to Serbian, to Greek Catholic, to Roman Catholic and other Churches, which we visited and which I did not know before. This festival and the way the Churches of Eastern Europe work together show that unity between the Churches is possible! Now wars and prejudices want to prevent us from working together. Even if we think that Church members are decreasing in number, the young people have shown me that this is not the case everywhere. This is certainly a sign of hope. This experience will continue to inspire others and me to work together for a more united and harmonious future for all Christians.

Thank you, Jean Marc, for this interview.

Beatriz Lauenroth


Called to unity

Called to unity

The eccumenical network Together for Europe in Timisoara

 „Europe lives in Timisoara” – So reads the invitation to the leaders of Movements and Communities of various Churches, who are meeting in the Romanian city this year. Timisoara, European Cultural Capital 2023, already tells many stories of ‘togetherness’: indeed, here different cultures meet in faith and life.

The event aims to highlight the ecumenical network’s call to unity through speeches and testimonies at the local and European level.

Six workshops will offer the opportunity to come into lively contact with the realities of the city: Orthodox spirituality, social hot spots, East-West relations, youth engagement, steps on the road to peace are some of the topics. Let us be guarantors of a Europe that lives from its Christian roots.

Timisoara is a place of hope. The two days are addressed to the current and future leadership of Movements and Communities, who wish to make a sign of hope:

  • Together, rather than against each other!
  • East and West come together!
  • Unity is possible!

As Communities and Movements we are ready to live our charism of unity in a new way and to “enter again into the rifts” (Ez 22:30) for Europe, the Churches and society. We are looking forward to seeing you!

The Together for Europe Secretariat

Flyer with register link>>


The art of listening

The art of listening

Interview with Herbert Lauenroth (1) ahead of the next meeting in Timisoara

Where do you see the main values of Together for Europe (TfE)?

Based on common Christian roots, TfE has made its own the vision of a Europe of solidarity, peace, reconciliation, justice and fraternity. TfE wants to re-propose the Christian ethos (with reference to Jn 15:12: This is my commandment: that you love one another, as I have loved you) in the light of a ‘tolerance of ambiguity’ (in the words of the Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman), which seems to be the indispensable basis for a communication capable of overcoming the current tendencies of increasing polarisation and fragmentation. It is in acquiring a “culture of listening”, that very promising avenues for dialogue and for an experience of reciprocity are opened up, thus coping with the media pathologies of a so-called “post-factual” (with their notoriety, such as disinformation, denunciation, “hate speech”, dissemination of “fake news”, etc.).

Does this create greater solidarity?

I think so. Because solidarity is born in the light of the Christian experience, of its vision of a “universal brotherhood”, which brings us out of our respective “echo chambers” or “bubbles”, to open up to the (discursive) spaces of an “egaliberté” or “egalberty” (according to the neologism of French philosopher Etienne Balibar). These spaces resonate with what Gal 3:28 states: there is no longer Jew nor Greek; there is no longer slave nor free; there is no longer man nor woman. Being ‘Christian’ therefore means being a ‘citizen’. Democracy, as a secular project, needs very precise presuppositions, namely the reference to the transcendent, to the ‘religious’ sphere (it is enough to remember the emblematic meeting in this regard between Card. Joseph Ratzinger and the renowned German representative of so-called post-metaphysical thought, Jürgen Habermas, in 2004).

And how can these values be realised?

There have been many occasions in the past. Most recently, TfE participated in the Ecumenical Youth Festival in Timisoara/Romania, to promote dialogue between young people of various Churches.

On 5 May 2023, we offered a workshop on the theme of citizenship and the transformation of cities, starting from the passage of scripture ‘Seek the Good/the Shalôm of the City’ (Jer. 29:7) and a text – endowed with an unprecedented prophetic pragmatism – by Chiara Lubich: ‘One city is not enough’. Approximately 100 young Catholics, Orthodox and members of other Christian churches participated. The workshop was then further divided into various thematic groups, of which ‘The Art of Listening’, ‘Christians=citizens’ and ‘Ideas for a film/storyboard about my city’ were the most popular. On the part of the young people (16 to 28 age bracket), both the practice of ‘story-telling’ and a psycho-spiritual approach to group dynamics were appreciated, as well as the enhancement of the aesthetic side (in addition to the diaconic or social side).

From 16 to 18 November 2023 there will be the annual meeting of the ‘Friends of Together for Europe‘ also in Timisoara. Why?

For the year 2023, Eleusis (Greece), Veszprém (Hungary) and Timişoara (Romania) won the title of ‘European Capital of Culture’. On this occasion, Catholic Bishop Pál József Csaba of Timişoara invited to his city the annual meeting of the Friends of Together for Europe. The TfE Steering Committee accepted the invitation and included it in its programme.

On an annual basis, the meeting of the ‘Friends of TfE‘ takes place in Eastern and Western European countries (e.g. Prague, Timisoara and Porto) with the aim of creating the basis for a differentiated and fruitful dialogue. It is about fostering an attitude that creates the conditions for this very dialogue. The aim is to learn more deeply the ‘Art-of-Listening’, the readiness to mutually ‘listen’, which is the only way that can lead to a solid and sustainable knowledge of the other’s culture.

For the Friends’ meeting in November, among other things, we would like to propose workshops that take up and discern in depth the theme “Seek the Good/the Shalôm of the City” on a larger scale.

Beatriz Lauenroth

(1) Herbert Lauenroth, historian, is a member of the Steering Committee of Together for Europe and has accompanied the development of the international network since its inception.



Together for Europe goes to Timisoara

Together for Europe goes to Timisoara

“2023 Culture Capital” 

From the 1st of January 2023, the Romanian city of Timisoara is the “2023 Culture Capital”. The official program of the festivities will kick off on February17, 2023. During the entire year the local public institutions will repeatedly commemorate this honorific title. The Churches, too, will oblige.

Following the invitation of the Catholic bishop of the city, Mgr. Iosif Csaba Pál, the group of Friends of Together for Europe has willingly chosen Timisoara for their annual November meeting. After all, Timisoara is a multi-confessional, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural city. The city is situated on the borders of East and West, in the Romania-Hungary-Serbia triangle. The bishop stated: “Your presence will allow Romania to appreciate the beauty of the Christian faith”. Also, one of the organizers said: “The participants coming from the Together for Europe Western countries need the experience of their friends from the Eastern European countries to be able to discover ever more the Christian roots of Europe”. A young Romanian Orthodox journalist, member of the inter-confessional preparatory team in Timisoara, affirmed: “We are so diverse, and yet, interiorly, we are so close”. We need to bear witness to our sole faith in Christ. The past political tensions ought to play second fiddle.

Gérard Testard (Efesia) was, until recently, a member of the Steering Committee of Together for Europe; he summed it up thus: “We follow in the footsteps of the Founders of Europe and of all those who, along the years, never accepted conflicts as a fatality, but did their utmost to knock down barriers”.

The aim of Together for Europe Timisoara 2023 is to see that the fraternity in Christ becomes ever more a visible realty.

Beatriz Lauenroth

Photo: Canva