Brothers share the story of The Taize Community

April 10, 2015

Nearly 50 clergy and laity gathered at Assumption College in Worcester, MA, to hear a presentation by two brothers from The Taize Community in France.

Brother Emile, left, and Brother John of The Taize Community in France, are on a three-week tour of the U.S. to share the story of their community. 

There are currently 100 brothers from some 25 countries and “many different churches” at Taize, according to Brother John. He talked about the community’s founder Brother Roger  and his motivation for starting Taize in the midst of World War II,  saying Brother Roger felt there was a need for “concrete signs of the Gospel” – such as a community that would pray and share together.

Brother Emile said Taize is “not a movement … but way of being in community that’s rooted in prayer and has a strong identity in practicing hospitality in a generous way.”

That hospitality is something that Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar has shared with more than 350 young people from the conferences he’s served who have gone with him to Taize.

Bishop Devadhar with Brother Emile.

Bishop Devadhar spoke about the stories he hears from young people and their parents. “They are stories about how their lives have been transformed,” he said.

“My youth from ethnic communities say ‘This is where the real Church is, because we are accepted as children of God,’” said the bishop, who called himself “a strong advocate of Taize.”

The brothers now host 3,000 to 5,000 young people each week during the summers. But the relationship between Taize and young people is not something Brother Roger planned or, even as it developed in the 1960s, expected to last.

Brother Roger thought young people would “disturb” the life of silence at Taize, and built the first guest house 2 miles away, Brother Emile said with a smile.

But Brother John said that silence and time away from daily life seems to be something that speaks to young people – especially the youth of today.

“When they come back, they say it feels like coming home,” Brother John said. That despite the fact that they are living in tents, eating food that’s “not the greatest,” and have no access to computers or other comforts of their lives at home.

“It’s not the living conditions (that make them feel at home),” he said. “It’s because they are touching something deep inside themselves and in their relationship with God.”

Brother Emile told the story of Brother Roger’s audience with the newly elected Pope John XXIII in 1958. The Pope understood Brother Roger’s ideas about ecumenicalism, he said.

“The Church is made of circles, ever greater circles, and you are part of those circles,” Pope John XXIII told Brother Roger.

The audience, Brother Emile said, “Gave Brother Roger a greater sense of possibility of opening up to all the gifts that are out there.”

“We hope when people come to Taize, they see all those gifts are present,” he said.

Story and photos by Beth DiCocco, Conference Director of Communications

U.S. tour

Two brothers from The Taize Community are on a three-week tour of the United States, stopping at churches and colleges.

Brother John and Brother Emile will be speaking, followed by a time of prayer, tonight, April 10, beginning at 7 p.m. at Assumption College. Click here for details.

The brothers will be at “Taize Comes to Cambridge” on Saturday, April 11; find details here.

See more photos from the lunch on our Facebook page