Young people at St. Viator Catholic Community in Las Vegas organized a Taizé prayer service Wednesday night, giving parishioners a chance for prayerful contemplation during Lent. Its candlelit setting casts the sanctuary in a purple glow, reflecting the color of Lent and symbolizing penance, preparation and sacrifice.

Viator Youth involved with the Taize prayer service at St. Viator Parish

Organizers included young adults and Viatorian associates, who coordinated and planned the service, with the help of teens in the parish’s Youth Group. These same young people organized a Taizé prayer service in December, after the shooting on the UNLV campus. Leaders included Vanessa Marshall, who handled readings, set-up and printing the worship aids, while Associate Anthony Gugino directed the music, and Associates Tommy Gugino and Ky Guerrero sang the hymns.

It was some of these same young people who suggested the parish host a Taizé prayer service back in 2017, after the shooting massacre in Las Vegas, and it has become an important part of the prayer life of the parish ever since. The meditative service includes periods of silence with readings from Scripture, prayers of praise and intercession, and the frequent repetition of simple, contemporary music, or chants, based on the Psalms.

Associate Anthony Gugino accompanies singers, including Associates Ky Guerrero and Tommy Gugino, right.

Taizé prayer has become such a valued tradition among Viatorians, that it is offered at nearly all the places where they minister, as well as at the Viatorian Youth Congress each summer. In fact, this year marks the 25th year that Viatorians began hosting the prayer service.

“Those that come, without exception, tell me they find a remarkable peace during the evening,” says Fr. Corey Brost, CSV, who first introduced the service to the Viatorian Community, back in 1999,

“It’s a wonderful way to connect with God,” he adds. “The music and the ritual seem to open people up so that they experience God’s love and peaceful presence.”

Taizé prayer originated with an ecumenical community of Christians in Taizé, France, who continue to gather daily to chant and meditate together. Its simple chants praise God and plea for God’s help.

College students, including Abby Hartz, left, helped with set-up.

At St. Viator Parish, officials promoted the service in their Sunday bulletin as a Lenten activity allowing parishioners to dive into their faith and connect with God on a deeper level.

“Be inspired by music and worship, be challenged by Scripture,” they wrote, “be welcomed by Viatorian tradition.”