Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Brothers Introduce Prayer Of Taizé Community

By PRISCILLA GREEAR, Staff Writer | Published June 15, 2006

An Indian and a German monk from the ecumenical, international Christian community of Taizé in southern Burgundy, France, founded in 1940 to foster peace among Christians of all nationalities, visited the Archdiocese of Atlanta in May while on a pilgrimage to Alabama, with hopes of forming stronger ties with the United States.

Brother Felix, originally from India and now serving the poor in Senegal, Africa, and Brother Wolfgang from Germany spoke and introduced the Taizé prayer style following the Saturday vigil Mass on May 13 at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Atlanta.

They also visited Our Lady of Mercy High School, Fairburn, on their way to Alabama for activities with the Episcopal Church. Brother Wolfgang returned the weekend of May 21 to speak at the Sudanese and other Masses at Corpus Christi Church in Stone Mountain, and Brother Felix also visited New Orleans and the Lyke House Catholic Center at the Atlanta University Center.

Brother Wolfgang said before he returned to France on May 22 that he felt “it wasn’t just to meet with Taizé friends but to be part of the diocese. … We felt really welcome and especially when we could spend time with the two parishes, Our Lady of Lourdes and Corpus Christi, who gave us a real welcome.”

“This trip is a confirmation of my vocation” and their ministry of “deep communion” and reconciliation among Christians of all nations, he said. Furthermore, once they are back home, “we want to let people know what is going on in the United States.”

The late Brother Roger founded Taizé during World War II. He moved from Switzerland to France to establish his dream of a community to foster peace and reconciliation among Christians across Europe and the world. He moved to this village near the border from occupied France in a time of great peril and hid Jewish refugees. After the war the Lutheran minister gradually formed a community of brothers, and young people began coming in increasing numbers in the late 1950s. He was invited to the Second Vatican Council and wrote books with Mother Teresa including “Mary, Mother of Reconciliations.”

“There was a strong conviction on the part of Brother Roger that if we, as Christians, don’t know how to live in the world together, then the world will never know peace,” said Mary Moon, a longtime Taizé pilgrim and Our Lady of Lourdes parishioner, who with her husband Bill facilitated the brothers’ visit.

She recalled that Brother Roger was inspired by his Lutheran grandmother, who, dismayed by World War I violence, began attending Mass to live in solidarity with Catholics. In “God Is Love Alone” Brother Roger wrote of his grandmother, “Marked by the witness of her life, while I was still very young, following her I found my own Christian identity by reconciling within myself the faith of my origins with the mystery of the Catholic faith, without breaking fellowship with anyone.”

Taizé is a village of stone cottages amidst verdant hills, just beyond the town of Cluny where lie the ruins of a powerful medieval monastery. The community includes over 100 Catholic and Protestant brothers from over 25 countries. They lead prayer services in their church three times every day before an altar filled with lighted candles. Pilgrims there assist in community chores and attend Bible studies led by a monk, with separate groups for the young and for adults 30 and older.

This oasis amidst the vineyards of secular France receives visitors every week from early spring to late fall, welcoming in some summer weeks 5,000 pilgrims from 75 countries across Europe and as far away as Asia, Africa, Latin America and the United States. At the end of every year, a major meeting is held in a European city.

In 2005 Brother Roger was murdered in Taizé by a disturbed woman. Brother Wolfgang said Brother Roger’s death hit the community “like a hurricane” but that while tragic they have grown closer and in deeper solidarity with the suffering.

He said that among pilgrims who come to ask the essential questions of life are many Europeans from broken families, the unbaptized, and persons who grew up under communism. They help them discover personal faith and experience solidarity with the universal church, to go back enlivened to serve their parishes.

When the native of Bavaria first joined 31 years ago, Germans were still viewed as children of the Nazis and carried their own sense of guilt for their nation’s evil past. But the community has helped foster healing for them with other Europeans, and with each other, as after West and East Germany were reunited many youth got to know each other there. They also now welcome German school groups that sometimes include Muslims who respectfully participate. The president of Germany attended Brother Roger’s funeral. “We want to give them hope that communion is possible, that there is only one way and with Christ we can go on that way. Bible study is very important in Taizé and to listen to each other.”

They view their vocation as a gift from God, just as married people do. “You do it through God and you say ‘what will be the place where I can live that love and receive that love to the end of my days?’” he said.

The Moons lived in France for many years and experienced that love from their first visit to Taizé. They began making yearly summer pilgrimages there. They were inspired to open a school for refugee children, and Brother Roger encouraged them to follow their dream concerning the school.

“He had a remarkable kindness and you felt that just being close to him,” said Mrs. Moon.

Realizing that dream after moving to Georgia, they and other community leaders four years ago opened the International Community School in Decatur, a growing public charter school serving refugees, immigrants and children from many nations, about 30 percent of whom are Muslim. Bill Moon is the founding principal and remains profoundly inspired by Taizé.

“You have such incredible diversity in the community of brothers themselves, let alone the 5,000 people who join them every week. Singing in Latin and all of the languages, you have to feel this is what heaven is going to be like.”


Since 1992 some Atlanta area churches have held regular prayer services using music from the Taizé community, which typically involve an extended period of silence, Scripture reading and the singing of monastic chants composed by the community, accompanied by string instruments. Taizé prayer services are held on the first Monday of every month at Emory Presbyterian Church, on the second Monday at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, on the third Monday at the Cathedral of St. Philip, and on the fourth Monday at Druid Hills Presbyterian Church. All are at 8 p.m. For more information visit or