Some Recent News

Brother Jean-Philippe (1946-2014)

On November 10th, Brother Jean-Philippe died in Taizé. Born in Lausanne, Switzerland, he was in his 69th year. After studying literature, he entered the community in 1969.

For a long time, he had been receiving treatment for a heart problem and his heart suddenly gave up whilst he was in his room. His funeral took place in the Church of Reconciliation on November 15th, in the presence of his sister, his brother-in-law and their four sons.

Very soon after his arrival in Taizé, Brother Roger discerned his skills and entrusted many important task to him, particularly in running the material side of the community’s life, and in the editing of books and journals published by Les Presses de Taizé.

At the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s, Brother Roger asked him to go periodically to the United States to support the brothers who at the time were living there. He spent several months with them in a poor neighbourhood called Hell’s Kitchen, and in Milwaukee in an African-American neigbourhood. He travelled with other brothers throughout the Midwest and Texas to help young adults prepare to come to the North American meeting that Taizé organised in Dayton, Ohio, in 1992.

He then returned to Taizé and continued with different administrative tasks, including following up the visa questions for young people, who came from distant lands, so that they could take part in the international meetings in Taizé.

When war broke out in the early 1990s in former Yugoslavia, he went to Croatia where there were many refugees. He prepared the stay in Taizé of several groups of children from Bosnia who were in need of respite. He also helped a family from Sarajevo to settle in the village of Taizé. They are still living there today.

Highly educated, this kind and humble man loved all that was beautiful. He was passionate about books and he always had good suggestions on what to read for brothers or others he met.

Throughout his life, he accompanied spiritually a number of people, many of whom expressed today agreement on the quality of his listening, his sensitivity, his respect and his serenity.

Brother Frank (1935-2014)

On January 16, Brother Frank, the brother in charge of the fraternity in Mymensingh (Bangladesh), died in his 79th year. He was born in the Netherlands, in the village of Gasselte in the province of Drenthe. After studying languages, he entered the Taizé Community in 1960.

For a long time he had a weak heart, and then lungs. Recently he felt worse and a rapid return to Taizé was decided. A nurse accompanied him. During a stopover in Istanbul he suffered a heart attack; he was hospitalized and died almost immediately. His body was brought back to Taizé, where his funeral took place on January 21 in the presence of his five siblings; he was the eldest.

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A lifetime of self-giving for the poorest of the poor has come to an end. Whatever the place where he spent time along with other brothers of the community, Brother Frank always gave priority to a life shared with the most abandoned, rooted in an intense search for God. At the end of 1964, Brother Roger asked him to make visits to the United States which led to the creation, in 1965, of the first fraternity on the American continent, in Wisconsin. From 1966 to 1971, he was in charge of a fraternity where a few brothers of Taizé and some Franciscan friars lived in a very poor neighborhood of Chicago. Then he spent a year with other brothers in Atlanta.

In 1972, Brother Frank changed continents. He was sent to Asia and made visits in India, where he established especially the first relations Taizé had with Mother Teresa. He then visited Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines. In late 1974, a fraternity in Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries in the world, began, in the city of Chittagong. From there, in 1978, he moved to Japan where, with other brothers, he began a fraternity in the marginal district of Miyadera in Tokyo. At the end of 1979, he helped begin a fraternity in Seoul, Korea, then he left for Calcutta in 1981, and returned permanently to Bangladesh in 1987. The brothers then went to live in the town of Mymensingh.

One day, Brother Frank described these long years of life shared with the poor of Bangladesh with these lines:

We find that those who are rejected by society because of their weakness and their apparent uselessness are a presence of God. If we welcome them, they gradually lead us out of a world of hyper-competition to a world of communion of hearts. As a gesture of communion with believers of Islam or with other believers, we make pilgrimages together with the disabled. This opens up our hearts. When we serve together the poor and the weak, they are the ones who bring us together; it is not we, the strong, who do this, but it is they who invite us to be together, with them.

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March 2013

Brother Alois in Canterbury

Brother Alois was in Canterbury on 21st March for the enthronement of the new Archbishop, Justin Welby. The next day he had the opportunity to greet him personally.

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Archbishop Justin Welby and brother Alois, 22 March 2013
©Picture Partnership/Lambeth Palace

During his sermon the Archbishop said that the church continues to have the power to transform society. Preaching to 2,000 people inside the cathedral and millions more watching and listening around the world, he spoke about how fear imprisons us and stops us from being fully human. Drawing on the story of Christ beckoning the disciples to walk on stormy waters, he recalled Jesus’ words: "Take heart, it is I, do not be afraid."

Archbishop Justin said that "our response to these words sets the pattern of our lives, for the church, for the whole of society."

Pope Francis, hope for renewal in the Church

Brother Alois, Prior of Taizé, writes

In Rome, in St. Peter’s Square, in the middle of the huge crowd of Romans and pilgrims from many countries, I was very happy about the first words of Pope Francis. We were expecting something new from this election and it happened. The origin of this first pope, come "from the ends of the earth," expresses the universal dimension of the Church. The name he chose evokes the joy and love of the poor that inspired Francis of Assisi and which, until now, have been at the heart of his life in Argentina.
He draws from the faith of Latin American Christians his vision of the relationship between the people and their bishop. "Let us set out on this road: the bishop and his people," "a path of brotherhood, love, and trust between us," he said, emphasizing his mission as Bishop of Rome. Those who were present in the square were visibly impressed that the new pope, before blessing them, asked for their prayers, bowing down and maintaining a long silence.
By asking to pray for his predecessor, Benedict XVI, he brought together continuity and the promise of something new. With the whole crowd present to greet and welcome him, I was touched that he widened our attention to a worldwide dimension by saying: "Let us pray for the whole world so that a great brotherhood may arise."
March 13, 2013

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With Pope Francis