Fr. Richard Rinn, third from left, appreciates the leadership of these young people.

Parishioners at St. Viator Catholic Community in Las Vegas now can attend a Taizé prayer service once a month — and they have young faith leaders to thank.

Vanessa Marshall and Daniel Skurski are students at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, but they also share a common background. Both grew up in the parish, participating in its youth ministry group. As a result, they also attended the Viatorian Youth Congress — as delegates and later as leaders — where among other things, they experienced different types of prayer, including Taizé.

Mike Kershaw leads the young musicians

At the end of each VYC, delegates are encouraged to bring back to their home communities what they have learned and experienced at the congress. This fall, Vanessa and Daniel did just that, by starting the Taizé prayer service.

They organized the first service in response to the shooting massacre that took place last month in Las Vegas, and when they had such a strong turnout they decided to make it regular occurrence.

“We had two main goals. One was to bring this sense of community that we got from Taizé back to the community that we call home,” Vanessa said. “The second was to create this experience that would allow personal growth within your faith life that can only be done by going to something like Taizé.”

Fr. Richard Rinn, CSV, pastor, says he was thrilled with the young people taking such initiative in the parish.

“They were well prepared,” Fr. Rinn said. “It was well thought out and very welcoming and prayerful.”

It was Fr. Corey Brost, CSV, who first brought Taizé prayer to the Viatorian Community. In 1999, he began offering it at the Viatorian Province Center, reaching out to both Saint Viator High School students as well as supporters of the Viatorians.

“Those that come, without exception, tell me they find a remarkable peace during the evening,” Fr. Brost says. “It’s a wonderful way to connect with God. 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.