After several visits to Taizé, beginning in 1970, he stayed for a year as a volunteer in 1973-1974, taking part in the welcome of young people. He entered the community in 1974. He followed the theological and spiritual training programme for new brothers, and made his life commitment on August 6th, 1978. He has lived at Taizé since then.
As a brother, he has devoted a lot of time to listening to, and accompanying, young people.
Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Brother Alois made numerous journeys in central Europe, to support the Christians there, then under communist regimes.
Over the years, he has co-ordinated the organisation of international meetings at Taizé and the European meetings held in several of the continent’s major cities.
Being very interested in music and liturgy, he prepared for publication the new book of the community’s prayer: “Prayer for Each Day”, and he has composed a number of the songs of Taizé.
In keeping with the Rule of Taizé, which plans for the prior to designate his successor, Brother Roger indicated his name to a council of the brothers in January 1988. He had already discreetly made the choice since 1978. Being tired and very old, Brother Roger announced to the community in January 2005 that Brother Alois would begin his ministry within the next year.
Brother Alois became prior of the community at the death of Brother Roger, on August 16th, 2005.
The responsibility of the prior is to stimulate the forward movement of the community and to create unity and communion among the brothers. “When Brother Roger asked me, a very long time ago, to prepare to take on responsibility for the community after him, he didn’t give me instructions; he didn’t tell me how I was to exercise this responsibility; but he left these words: For the prior, as for the brothers, discernment, a spirit of mercy, an inexhaustible goodness of heart, are the irreplaceable gifts.”
Brother Alois carries out this ministry at Taizé and also in visiting the brothers living in small groups in Brazil, Bangladesh, Korea, Senegal, and Kenya: “Twenty or so of our brothers live in small fraternities on other continents. Through this, we wish to be close to the poor and to create bridges between different cultures.”
- In Goma, North Kivu, 2012
With the brothers, Brother Alois continues to animate the ‘pilgrimage of trust’ launched by Brother Roger over thirty years ago. This pilgrimage consists notably of a European meeting, held each year in a major European city; together with a meeting of young people held alternately in Asia, Africa, and Latin America: “Continuing the pilgrimage of trust on earth, which brings together young people from many countries, we understand ever more deeply this reality: all humans make up one single family and God lives in every human being, without exception.”
To help young people to understand faith better, he has published two books: in ‘Oser croire’ (Dare to believe), he explains the essentials of the Christian faith by commenting on the meaning of the major annual feasts, and in ‘Pélerins de confiance’ (Pilgrims of Trust) he draws on, among other things, the annual letters he has written to young people since 2006. “If only many young people could understand this better: faith is not primarily a matter of sticking to truths, but of a personal relationship with God. The centre of our faith is the Risen One, present amongst us, who has a personal link of love and trust with each person.”
- With Pope Francis
Accompanied by other brothers, Brother Alois regularly visits Church leaders: he was received each year by Pope Benedict; he went several times to meet the Orthodox Patriarchs Bartholomew of Constantinople and Kirill of Moscow; he visited the World Council of Churches, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Anglican Communion.
- In Constantinople, with Patriarch Bartholomew I
“Through these visits I would like to show that, with the brothers, we passionately seek communion between Christians. In Taizé we want to contribute to giving greater visibility to the communion which, in Christ, already exists between all who are baptised.”
- Patriarch Kirill and brother Alois, Easter 2011
- Archbishop Justin Welby and brother Alois, 22 March 2013
©Picture Partnership/Lambeth Palace