When Mary-Jane Tigchelaar’s children reached university age, she and her husband asked themselves a hard question: How well have we equipped our children to leave home and live at university? The Tigchelaars live in Hamilton, situated at the west end of Lake Ontario; when their son chose to study at Redeemer University College in nearby Ancaster, they were able to maintain regular contact. When their daughter Abby chose to study psychology at Queen’s, a public university located in Kingston at the east end of Lake Ontario—about 400 km by road from Hamilton—Mary Jane faced a new challenge.
“We wanted to make sure Abby would be living in a good house, in a good neighborhood”, she explained. “We wanted her to connect with Geneva House, the CRC chaplaincy ministry at Queen’s. We met [CRC chaplain] Steve Kooy and his wife, Julia, on Abby’s first day in Kingston, and she has been connected with them and the Geneva House campus ministry ever since. We have a sense of partnering with the Kooys in caring for our daughter. For example, when my daughter was sick a couple of years ago, I called Julia to let her know—and Julia made some chicken soup and made that visit for me!”
CRC pastor Steve Kooy is now in his 10th year of chaplaincy at Queen’s University; Julia Kooy recently took a part-time appointment as head of women’s ministry there. He explains, “The Geneva House chaplaincy has been here on the Queen’s University Campus for more than 25 years.
We have always worked hard to make and build strong ties among Christian students on campus, especially through what we call “huddle groups.” Geneva House has a few rooms available for missional living by students, and this year we have added two new residences. We have a group of male students living in the parsonage of St. Andrew’s Anglican. We have a separate house for women, and Abby has taken a leading role there, helping to create a family feel to the group living there. I’m very excited to see how the experience of living together in community can give students a much richer experience.” Kooy is currently writing a Doctor of Ministry thesis on the topic at Tyndale University called “Discipling University Students through a Missional House Model.”