“Many young adults talk about Maison Magis as their home,” notes with satisfaction Father Thierry Anne, the director of the place. The third place, opened by the Jesuits in Paris, which celebrates its fifth anniversary on Thursday, November 9, attracts more than 2,000 people per year.
If the place brings people together, it is because it hosts associations, a coworking space, and a pastoral ministry for young adults. We therefore meet students, many young professionals, but also refugees and religious people.
A house serving young people
“Maison Magis came to meet several expectations,” explains Jesuit Father Thierry Anne. Opening up young people from their Parisian apartments and providing strong spiritual support to young people exhausted by their work.”
In 2018, the Paris branch of the Magis Network, a pastoral ministry intended for young adults, found itself too cramped in the premises of the Saint-Ignace church. At the same time, the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is growing and looking for premises to welcome and help young migrants. “We said to ourselves that it would be great to bring these two activities together in the same place,” recalls the priest. To this has been added a work space for independent professionals or those in the process of setting up their business, Cowork Magis.
Installed in the former premises of the Laennec Center, for medical students, Maison Magis is a 1,000 m2 space, run by the Jesuits and managed with “co-responsibility between religious and young adults”.
Young people looking for social connections…
This mix of uses and populations is perhaps the key ingredient in Maison Magis’ recipe for success. “The great strength of the Jesuits is that they manage to bring together people who do not come from the same political sides, and who do not have the same standard of living,” explains Léa Sermont, 28, member of the council. of administration.
For Ngolen Srun, 40, who arrived at Cowork three years ago, Maison Magis is a place that allows him to “connect with several audiences”. In addition to his activities as an orientation coach, he also volunteers with JRS. Among these exiles, Sami Salam, 28, arrived in France in July 2022. Since then, he has come to rue d’Assas (6th arrondissement of Paris) every day. “For us, the exiles, Maison Magis is not like our reception centers,” he describes. “I can have coffee with my friends, have access to the kitchen… it’s like my home.” It is indeed punctuated by moments of conviviality.
It is also this need for solidarity and diversity that Anne-Claire, 30 years old, describes. Upon her return from international volunteering in Kosovo, which she carried out with Inigo, another Jesuit association based at the House, she frequented the place assiduously during the confinements: “Maison Magis gave me the means to train myself as a Christian, engaged in ordinary life and in the world.”
Quest for spirituality
Because if this Jesuit third place is so attractive, it is also because it offers solid spiritual support for everyone. “We don’t need to have been a scout or MEJ (Eucharistic Youth Movement, Editor’s note) to find our place,” explains Léa, assuring that everyone can come “regardless of their faith.” .
“What definitely brought me to Magis were the exercises in ordinary life,” admits Anne-Claire. These “EVOs”, which consist of four weeks of spiritual accompaniment, personal prayer, and time for sharing, give rhythm to the spiritual proposition of the House.
Like Ngolen, around forty of them benefit from the coworking space and the support of a professional mentor. Added to this is the possibility of being followed by a spiritual guide and of participating in retreats specially organized for “coworkers”. “I haven’t found this professional and spiritual support anywhere else,” assures the coach, who converted to Catholicism three years ago.
Five years after its opening, Father Thierry Anne is already thinking about the future. The House must still “green up” and “facilitate the mixing of the population”.