by Kyle Franklin, Student at Gonzaga University, Spokane
When many people think of the typical college experience, they think about unrestrained freedom—the lack of parental supervision often translates to testing waters and pushing boundaries. While most of that behavior is outgrown and the decisions do not have lifelong consequences, that aspect of the college experience is not healthy. But there is another aspect of the college experience that can lead to lifelong friendships: intentional community.
At many schools, communal living and the community experience is fostered through residence halls. Gonzaga is no different. But most students move off campus after their sophomore year, choosing to live in apartments or houses with friends. While there are a handful of theme houses (centered around a sport or club activity), most of these residences are simply groups of friends who live together out of convenience.
Heart’s Home is different. Heart’s Home Spokane is a patchwork of lives that have come together to live the love of Jesus intentionally in the greater community of Gonzaga University. Rather than hosting keggers and raging parties, the women of Heart’s Home host post-Mass brunches. Rather than keeping School of Community restricted to themselves, they invite friends and acquaintances to participate. Additionally, they host Rosary prayer times twice a week and spend intentional time in prayer each night.
Beyond the daily time they spend together, the women invest in the lives of others. In a previous position, one of the women developed a friendship with a homeless woman in town. That friendship blossomed to become a friendship among all of the women. They often invite the woman and her daughter for a “family” dinner, nourishing both her body and her need for community. Additionally, they spend time with the residents of Spokane’s L’Arche Community, eating meals and even Christmas Caroling.
I was introduced to Heart’s Home by Amy, one of my classmates in the Masters of Religious Studies program at Gonzaga. Having gone through a difficult time this past semester, I spent much time at Heart’s Home. Over the course of the semester, the other women became close friends, too. We studied together, watched movies, ate meals, and just spent time. Our friendships developed to the point that I consider each of them to be best friends. They didn’t just fill a void—they overwhelmed me with love and support.
The women of Hearts Home Spokane are an intentional community—but their community is not exclusive—it includes the people and people groups around them. The boundaries they push are not typical of young college students. Rather, they push the boundaries of what it means to be community, welcoming many, sharing meal in both traditional and untraditional ways, and loving like Jesus.