Since 2016, Kerustum, a house belonging to the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus in the city of Quimper (France) has become the “Saint Joseph house-share” for students and young professionals from 18 to 25 years old, in connection with the Student Chaplaincy of Quimper and the youth and vocation ministry of the diocese. Sr Nathalie Guéguen, who accompanies this project, shares her experience with us.
The desire to put Kerustum at the service of a shared project following the departure of the community of the Daughters of Jesus, became a reality in 2015 under the leadership of Father Corentin, a young parish priest, and student chaplain at the time. The house-share is aimed at young people who are motivated to live an experience of fraternal Christian life, combined with an experience of ecclesial commitment, for the space of an academic year.
What the project entails
St. Joseph’s House-share also seeks to provide a framework for young people wanting to deepen their faith and relationship with God during their studies or at the beginning of their professional life. This fraternal and spiritual approach constitutes the foundation of the project: to live, as the first Christian communities did, in sharing and prayer: “They were assiduous in the teaching of the Apostles and in fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayer.” (Acts 2:42).
Participants in the project are expected to commit to taking part in student chaplaincy meetings on Tuesday evenings, and to meeting once a month for a community meal with the project spiritual director followed by a time of sharing and prayer. They also commit to a pastoral or charitable type of service throughout the year.
A house filled with vitality
Over the course of this adventure, the house-share has been different from year to year, going from 3 to 5 students, some years mixed-sex, some years same-sex. Since the start of the 2019 academic year, three female students have filled the house with their vitality, enthusiasm, and bursts of laughter. Elodie, 19 years old and from Morbihan, is in her 3rd year of studies in international trade with Asia. Maxence, 18 years old and also from Morbihan, is in her 2nd year of biological engineering at a University Institute of Technology. Finally, there is Caroline, 19 years old and Costa Rican, who is studying graphic design. They were all looking for others to share accommodation with, but also others with whom they could share and deepen their faith. They did not want to be alone in the evenings after classes, preferring to enrich each other with what makes up their lives and to forge bonds of friendship.
Learning to become autonomous and responsible
The three young women greatly appreciate this spacious and pleasant house, where each has her own room. Life in a shared house is a real human and spiritual experience, which helps them grow as they learn to become more autonomous and responsible. Living together requires patience, learning to listen to each other, and facing up to the real challenge of sharing the household chores. They therefore appreciate the presence of adults to stimulate and support them in this experience. I join them for an evening about once a month. We share a meal together that is always punctuated by lively and stimulating exchanges that energize me. Afterwards, we then have a time of “rereading”. As they express their desires, motivations, and concerns, I am in fact listening to what makes up their lives. Another Sister of the community, Marie-Renée, as well as Benedicte, a parishioner, and mother of a family, also accompanies the roommates by looking after the material and organizational aspects of the project.
Enlarging the space of our tent
The Sisters also appreciate the opportunity to welcome the young people to the community from time to time. For them, it is an occasion to discover more about the Daughters of Jesus, to talk about vocations for example, or about their studies and their commitments.
St. Joseph’s house-share allows us to “enlarge the space of our tent” (Is 54:2), as we unfold the canvas of Kerustum to welcome students and young professionals, and they, in turn, seek to strengthen the stakes of the tent by deepening their faith with others. Their youthfulness and spontaneity do us good, and they enrich and evangelize us.
Maxence, Caroline, and Elodie have told me to say,
“Thank you very much to the Daughters of Jesus
for allowing us to live this experience in this house! »
Nathalie Guéguen fj.