At Taizé, France, Sister Jean Evans, RSM, center, with two young visitors, Sophia from Cambodia, left, and Qaqamba from South Africa.
Taizé anniversary commemorated at Mercy Center
This year the ecumenical community of Taizé, France, is celebrating 75 years since its founding in 1940 by Brother Roger Schütz.
This anniversary coincides with the 100th birthday of Brother Roger who died 10 years ago at Taizé. It has been a place of pilgrimage for young people since the 1960s and the community undertook to welcome young people on a regular basis when Brother Roger first convened the Council of Youth in 1974.
Why have young people come to Taizé over the years? Perhaps it has been to discover a community that welcomes young people as they are. The experience of a week at Taizé allows them to ask questions and find their own answers through participation in discussion groups, in the communal prayer and in the moments of silence that open the way to understanding and faith.
There are many events going on in this French village celebrating the beauty of a life lived for Christ and others in the spirit of the gospel.
• From July 5-12 there will be a reflection week on the relevance of a religious vocation. An international gathering for young people 40 and under living a monastic or religious life, both those in formation as well as those already committed for some years.
• From Aug. 9-16, thousands of young people from 18 to 35 years old will gather on the hill of Taizé. Commemorating the life of Brother Roger, they will look for ways of appropriating his legacy through a renewed commitment to inner life and solidarity.
This gathering in Taizé is an opportunity to: pray with young people from around the world, to listen to what God's Word says about love and human solidarity, to meet people from communities and organizations that are engaged in works of charity and solidarity, to return home prepared to struggle against all forms of inequality.
Here at Mercy Center, the Sisters of Mercy first began the monthly First Friday Prayer Around the Cross in 1982.
Several sisters had visited Taizé in the 1970s when Sister M. Celeste Rouleau returned with an LP of the music, and in the '80s after Sister Judy Carle, and then I, visited. The sisters were so impressed with the welcome for the young people, the simple life style, the community prayer and music, and the inspiration drawn from the brothers and the participants.
Mercy Center hosted its first Taizé Weekend in late January 1983 where we welcomed more than 200 youth who came equipped with sleeping bags and who slept in the Sequoia Room.
Subsequently, the center has welcomed the visits of brothers in the 1990s and most recently, a brother visited in 2013 in preparation for the Taizé meeting held in Pine Ridge Indian Reserve in South Dakota.
The monthly Prayer Around the Cross has been sustained over the last 30 years by the dedication and musical gifts of Sisters Suzanne Toolan and Marguerite Buchanan, RSM, and by participants who have travelled here faithfully each month to form the musical ensemble and prepare the chapel for those who participate in the prayer.
To join the community of Taizé in these celebrations, we are offering a retreat in the style of Taizé from Aug. 3-6. The retreat includes daily morning and evening prayer, a daily scripture introduction by Sister Mary Criscione, RSM, opportunities for group sharing on the scriptures, and conversation on what "Solidarity" can mean for us here in California at this time.
For more: www.mercy-center.org
Some participants may wish to remain in silence during the retreat and there are separate dining facilities for this purpose. For those who wish, there will be sisters available for spiritual direction.
Mercy Center encourages young people (16-35) to apply for scholarships for the retreat. School or church groups can receive group rates. The Sisters of Mercy extend their prayerful support to you and welcome you.
Contact Cristina Esquerra firstname.lastname@example.org for a financial aid form.
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