LITTLE FALLS, N.J. — Parishioners of Our Lady of Holy Angels here have found that the quiet and contemplative practice of Taize prayer helps them better experience their faith in the world, especially for peace.
After participating in the 10-week Engage Franciscan Peacemaking seminar October-December, church members were challenged with developing new projects. Many of their ideas centered on promoting peacemaking in the parish, according to Sister Andrea Westkamp, SMIC, a member of Holy Angels, who also provides spiritual direction.
When we presented our project ideas to each other toward the end of the seminar, we realized that many of them were already part of the many activities of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) group in our parish, she said.
So on Feb. 26, the parishioners began a Taize prayer service, led by Sister Andrea, meeting on the last Tuesday of the month at 7:30 p.m. in the church’s Portiuncula Chapel. The first meeting drew 28 parishioners.
“Through this contemplative stance we find inner peace that we want to carry outside ourselves,” Sister Andrea said.
A team of three prepared this particular service and also set up the chapel, she added. Pastor Robert Sandoz, OFM, helped with some of the logistics. The centerpiece was a large San Damiano cross surrounded with candles. As our parish is known for its love of singing, we selected mostly chants that were familiar. The parishioners attending got a good sense what this contemplative kind of prayer is like. At the end, some expressed their appreciation and even asked about having it weekly, said Sr. Andrea.
The Taize prayer was not new to many parishioners, who had experienced the service at a local Methodist church.