(Vatican Radio) A bishop in Scotland is encouraging young people to ‘slow down’ and get involved in a Taizé movement, explaining that it will help them to think about some of the more important questions in life.
Bishop John Keenan is the bishop of the Diocese of Paisley. He is one of the youngest bishops in the UK and has made youth ministry an important part of his episcopacy since he was consecrated in 2014. In the past three years, a new university chaplaincy has been established and young pilgrims have travelled to Lourdes, to assist sick and elderly members of the faithful from the diocese, and Krakow, joining Pope Francis at the World Youth Day celebrations.
Now, following a recent visit to a Taizé weekend event in Birmingham, England, the bishop is reflecting on how much the young people – from his diocese and the Diocese of Galloway – enjoyed experiencing something different. Speaking to the Scottish Catholic Observer, Scotland’s national Catholic newspaper, the bishop said, “Life is very busy for young people, and there’s an awful temptation to live life on the surface without thinking why they’re really here on earth.”
On further reflection, he explained that getting involved in the Taizé event allowed the young people to spend a few days with hundreds of young people, and that it ‘slowed them down’. He added that this ‘slowing down’ allows the young people to think about important questions concerning identity, faith and purpose.
Across Scotland, more and more parishes are establishing Taizé groups. Bishop Keenan said that it is something he would encourage at parish and deanery levels in his diocese. He is also keen that groups should be established in secondary schools and university chaplaincies. He said, “I would love to see those revived. They’re so simple, they’re so easy. I think especially to give young people an opportunity to come together in a way that is characteristically young.”
Looking forward, Bishop Keenan is thinking about bringing more young people together in 2019 for the World Youth Day festivities in Panama, when young members of the Church will once again gather around the Holy Father. He said that the young people who attended the recent Taizé event were keen to go. “They enjoyed it and I think they’ve decided that for World Youth Day in Panama, Paisley and Galloway are going to do a joint pilgrimage for that, too.”
The Taizé community is an ecumenical monastic order that was founded in 1940 by Brother Roger Schütz, a Reformed Protestant. There are now more than 100 brothers, from the Catholic and Protestant traditions. There is a special emphasis in the community on the importance of music. Songs and hymns are sung in several languages and often the lyrics are simple phrases taken from Scripture and repeated often.
The Hidden Treasure Taizé event allowed young people from all over Europe to gather in a spirit of prayer and solidarity. Over 600 people attended the event, which was organized in cooperation with the local churches in Birmingham.