Br Roger Schutz, the founder of the Taiz ecumenical community, died on August 16th 2005. Listen to a tribute to his life and read more about the community he founded in 1940.

This podcast made available from Vatican Radio.

Beginnings

from www.Taize.fr

Prayer at Taize

Everything began in 1940 when, at the age of twenty-five, Brother Roger left Switzerland, the country where he was born, to go and live in France, the country his mother came from. For years he had been ill with tuberculosis, and during that long convalescence he had matured within him the call to create a community.

When the Second World War began, he had the conviction that without wasting time he should come to the assistance of people going through this ordeal, just as his grandmother had done during the First World War. The small village of Taiz, where he settled, was quite close to the demarcation line dividing France in two: it was well situated for sheltering refugees fleeing the war. Friends from Lyon started giving the address of Taiz to people in need of a place of safety.

In Taiz, thanks to a modest loan, Brother Roger bought a house with outlying buildings that had been uninhabited for years. He asked one of his sisters, Genevieve, to come and help him offer hospitality.
Brother Rogers parents, knowing that their son and daughter were in danger, asked a retired French officer who was a friend of the family to watch over them. In the autumn of 1942, he warned them that their activities had been found out and that everyone should leave at once.

So until the end of the war, it was in Geneva that Brother Roger lived and it was there that he began a common life with his first brothers. They were able to return to Taiz in 1944.

Present Day

Today, the Taiz Community is made up of over a hundred brothers, Catholics and from various Protestant backgrounds, coming from around thirty nations. By its very existence, the community is a parable of community that wants its life to be a sign of reconciliation between divided Christians and between separated peoples.

The brothers of the community live solely by their work. They do not accept donations. In the same way, they do not accept personal inheritances for themselves; the community gives them to the very poor.

Certain brothers live in some of the disadvantaged places in the world, to be witnesses of peace there, alongside people who are suffering. These small groups of brothers, in Asia, Africa and South America, share the living conditions of the people around them. They strive to be a presence of love among the very poor, street children, prisoners, the dying, and those who are wounded by broken relationships, or who have been abandoned.

Over the years, young adults have been coming to Taiz in ever greater numbers; they come from every continent to take part in weekly meetings. Sisters of Saint Andrew, an international Catholic community founded seven centuries ago, Polish Ursuline Sisters and Sisters of St Vincent de Paul take on some of the tasks involved in welcoming the young people.

Church leaders also come to Taiz. The community has thus welcomed Pope John Paul II, three Archbishops of Canterbury, Orthodox metropolitans, the fourteen Lutheran bishops of Sweden, and countless pastors from all over the world.

From 1962 on, brothers and young people sent by Taiz went back and forth continually to the countries of Eastern Europe, with great discretion, to visit those who were confined within their frontiers.

Brother Roger died on 16 August 2005, at the age of 90, killed during the evening prayer. Since then, Brother Alois, whom Brother Roger chose as his successor many years ago, has been the prior of the Community.