Fifteen school groups from England and Wales have decided to visit a French religious community this July including two from Arundel & Brighton Diocese, Chatsmore Catholic School from Worthing and Cardinal Newman School in Hove.
The Taizé Community, in Burgundy, south-eastern France, welcomes young people from various Christian denominations, and none, who want to spend a week living as part of the Community. Around 80,000 young people participate in these “international meetings” every year.
This year, Taize has designated two weeks as UK School Weeks at the beginning of July. School and college groups including Year 10 - Year 13 students have been especially invited.
So far, around fifteen schools have indicated that they are taking up this invitation.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster and former Bishop of Arundel & Brighton has taken groups to Taize. He says:
“I am very pleased that a good number of Catholic schools are taking a group to Taizé and I know it will be a very fruitful and happy experience. My last visit to Taizé was with an Anglican bishop-friend and 50 young people, Anglicans and Catholics. I warmly commend the School Weeks in July and hope there will be very many young people who will be able to share in the Taizé experience which is at the service of the Church.”
Some schools are holding occasional prayers and exchanges in small groups as part of the preparations for their visit: Steve Emerson, head of RE at Chatsmore Catholic High School in West Sussex said:
"It has been the special Friday evening prayers that have generated interest in the main trip for me. If it wasn’t for them I’m not sure we would be going."
In South London, students from various schools have been invited to a Friday "prayer around the cross" in Southwark (Anglican) Cathedral on Friday 24 February. A brother of the community will be there.
There is information about the Taizé School Weeks at: www.taize.fr/schools including information for teachers and group leaders. The response for 2012 has led to three further weeks being planned for 2013, from 30 June - 7 July, 7 - 14 July and 14 - 21 July. Volunteers will again visit the UK in November 2012. To request a school visit, contact UK Co-ordinator Jane Shields: firstname.lastname@example.org, or 01924 377921. For enquiries about Taizé School Weeks, contact Brother Paolo: email@example.com