A home away from home

Service, faith and spirituality are key pillars of community living
for student residents of Bellarmine House in central Sydney.

 JOURNEYING WITH YOUTH 

Located in central Sydney, Bellarmine House is The Cardoner Network’s community residence for young adults, usually school leavers pursuing tertiary studies. Under the umbrella of the Jesuit tertiary student-focused ministry, the House promotes an environment where residents can explore their faith and spirituality, as well as the essential issues in today’s world.

Bellarmine House is perfectly situated, with easy access to the University of Sydney (USyd), University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and Notre Dame, so it has plenty of appeal for students who also have an active interest in volunteering.

The Network was founded in 2010 but it was then known as The Cardoner Project, a Jesuit youth ministry that was a response to the desire of young people to serve those most in need. Four years later, he established Bellarmine House in the heart of the city’s university precinct, creating a residential community for young people who want to live in community with Jesuits and engage in local service and faith formation.

This year, we asked Fr Ramesh Richards SJ, the Rector of The Cardoner Network, to pose two key questions to newcomers at Bellarmine House, as well as those who have returned for another year.

Their responses are reproduced below:

Nathan Du:

Q1. I joined Bellarmine House to break free of my shelter in Adelaide and gain independence. This opportunity allows me to be able to start anew in an unfamiliar city which I can now explore. In turn, living in a community like this allows me to learn more about myself and how I can aim to improve myself each day, as well as exploring the connections I make with others and how much I can benefit from their experiences and perspectives.

Q2. As this place pushes me to bring out my full potential, I am able to utilise my skills and the things I learn to give back to the house. Where I am lacking, I can learn to overcome to give back to the house, and where I am confident, I can use that advantage to allow the house to thrive.

Tristan Lobo:

Q1. Living in a house with 12 different people means that I will be exposed to a plethora of different perspectives, opinions and beliefs. I hope that this will help me broaden my horizons and further develop me as a more well-rounded person during my tenure at Bellarmine House.

Since I moved states to attend uni, I have been isolated from my old friendships and communities. I hope that being part of the Bellarmine House family will help me build new friendships and enable me to be a part of a community here in Sydney.

Q2. I hope to give back to Bellarmine House by completing every task asked of me with love, respect and kindness. Also, making sure that any task I do is completed to the best of my abilities. I bring several skills and talents to the community and I vow to use them to help out in any way that I can.

Allegra Handa Robles:

Q1. Bellarmine House offers a great opportunity to build lots of new friendships and I’m really excited that I get to be a part of the strong community here in the house. Each resident has their own story and perspective and I feel like I have so much to learn from everyone, so I’m very excited that I can see so much possibility for growth here. I think being at Bellarmine is also a great chance to deepen my own faith and my own spiritual journey, which is something I’m really aiming to do.

Q2. I love that being at Bellarmine means that while going through uni, I get to live with others who are in the same life phase as me and I hope that I can offer support to the other residents, so that we can all build each other up. I also aim to grab all the opportunities I can get to support the Cardoner mission and make a positive impact on the world.

Ethan Godinho: 

Q1. What I want to get out of living here is to grow in my faith and get an understanding of what the common struggles are of navigating adulthood as a young Catholic. I would like to learn and understand different perspectives so as to get a more holistic idea of the world. It is an incredible opportunity to interact with such diverse cultures and yet find common ground in a shared safe space.

Q2. What I would like to give back is my experience and my knowledge of struggles to warn and advise the younger residents of the house about the temptations and common mistakes that young Catholic adults like myself make quite often. Guidance is helpful and so is support, which is what I would like to do to the best of my ability.

Oliver Huth:

Q1. A strong community is something very important to me and an aspect that I would like from Bellarmine House. More specifically, to be around people who are passionate about life and the future, and who are determined to make a good impact on the world.  
Q2. I wish to give back to The Cardoner Network through preaching Bellarmine House’s values in my own life, as well as doing my best to enrich the house’s community through my own actions.

Amartya Ghose:

Q1. I hope to enjoy this new experience of community, making friends and being pushed into new opportunities with all the good people around me. 

Q2. I will try to live as selflessly as possible in the house, not burden but support those around me and commit to community events and activities such as volunteering.

Miguel William :

Q1. To build relationships and meet new people in Bellarmine House and make these relationships last beyond my two years at University.

Q2. To do my duties and give back to Bellarmine House by volunteering as I am taken care of very well and being provided so much.

Harutaka Ominato:  

Q1. I want to get the most out of my time here, not just through the cooking experience, but building a strong and healthy relationship among the other community members, as well as the many possible aspects that come my way. I aim to grow as a young adult from the experience I gain while in the community.  

Q2. In return, I would like to bring all the faith, kindness and other beliefs to my community and pass on my own experiences as well. 

Their responses are reproduced below:

Troy Sinclair: 

Q1. For the new residents, the best way to get the most out of Bellarmine House is to enjoy it, from movie nights to going out to bars, to even the chaotic cooking that happens on Friday to Saturday. The way to get the most out of it is to immerse yourself in the community and enjoy it.

Q2. What I’ve learnt most from Bellarmine House is how important community is to me. For the first half of the first semester I would take a one and a half hour train trip up to UTS and take the train back after the lesson had finished. This left me feeling isolated and alone, but then I joined Bellarmine House and I learned how important community was to me. Previously, community was handed to me; in high school I was put into a cohort and shared classes with many people but I didn’t get that in university, so I learnt that community was something that had to be actively nurtured and participated in, in order to get the most out of it.

Timothy Sirotich: 

Q1. To any new residents, I would say that one of the most important things to do is arrive with an open mind. Living in Bellarmine House is an amazing experience and lifestyle. By coming into the house with a receptive attitude, you’ll learn a multitude of new things not just about yourself, but also about others.

My second piece of advice would be to enjoy your time in the house. The people, atmosphere and location are all exceptional. Whether it’s watching movies with other residents after dinner, cooking a meal for community night or just relaxing on the couch while listening to music, there is joy to be found in every moment in the house, and there’s always an amazing person to share that moment with.

Q2. While living in Bellarmine House, I have had the unique opportunity of being involved in service locally to people in need. This has given me an extremely valuable insight into my own life and taught me how important service is, and how grateful we should all be for every little thing we have, as not everyone does so.

I have also grown in my capacity to be a leader. When I joined the house, existing residents taught me the ways of living in the house, such as keeping clean and dealing with any kind of conflict with others. This had given me an aspiration to follow in their footsteps and become a leader for not just new residents, but also outside of the house in my day-to-day life.

Front row, from left to right: Oliver Huth, Allegra Handa Robles, Nathan Du, Tristan Lobo, Timothy Sirotich. Back row, from left to right: Fr Ramesh Richards SJ, Ethan Godinho, Amartya Ghose, Troy Sinclair, Harutaka Ominato, Miguel William, Fr Robin Koning SJ.

Learn how The Cardoner Network provides opportunities for young adults to serve and gain life-enhancing experiences

To enquire about becoming a Jesuit in Australia, contact vocations@sjasl.org.au and for more info, visit our Vocations page.