On the occasion of the start of the academic year, Father Damien Verley, pastor of the student parish of Toulouse, speaks of a new enthusiasm for the values of religion.
What does the student parish in Toulouse represent?
The student parish between 400 and 500 young people, every Sunday at the Daurade church, and more than 1000 for the back-to-school mass which will take place on October 13. There is a craze, we see it through the number of young people who ask to be baptized, about fifteen for a month, For the most part, it is a question of reconnecting with their roots, or of discovering Christian spirituality beyond some clichés conveyed here and there. Their commitment is more important in the faith than that of their elders. The radical nature of the Gospel, through the fight against the waste society of which Pope Francis speaks, seems to be a response that inspires them. The trust placed in them, they who are the actors of the world of tomorrow, and the hope conveyed by the Gospel in the face of a certain collapsing vulgate seems to respond to their desire for meaning.
How did the students get through a year and a half of the health crisis?
Between disarray, passivity and dropping out, but also solidarity, creativity in the good and perseverance. Each case is unique, but the isolation and the lack of emotional and family ties for some made the period particularly painful. In addition, with the absence of extra-university activities, this sometimes increased the desire for immediate “meaning” in their training, and resulted in more dropouts, hospitalization and even suicide attempts. Some, including students from grandes écoles, with campus life or prep have been able to live a year with social interactions, even reduced. For others coming from abroad, living in university residences and enrolled in courses in universities only in distance, the year could have been terrible. Creativity in the good, through many solidarity initiatives coming from all kinds of associations has allowed some to see that poverty is not only that of the street, but also that of residences, where the “invisible” live. . Many young people got involved. for the marauding of the student parish, we went from 20 to 80 young people per week.
What is the mission of the student parish?
It is a place of training and support to serve the student world. It welcomes and integrates into a community of community, a network of 70 groups gathered for the Sunday meeting. The dynamics of housing, three fraternities of eight students living together, ten hostels, and more than 20 collocations are all places of learning about common life The mission ensures that the student is committed to the service of the common good, aware of his faith and of the values of the Gospel. As in our marauding of people on the street. May he live his studies not as a parenthesis in his life, but a launching pad to be an actor in the world for which he will be responsible tomorrow.