At the Abbey of Echourgnac, a couple of young lay people converted to the cheese factory

In the heart of Périgord, the 22 Cistercians of the Abbey of Echourgnac have lived, since the establishment of their community in 1923, from the production of cheese. But, since September 1, they are no longer alone in charge of the cheese factory. If they remain shareholders at 51% of the small company which produces each year 130 tonnes of cheese, made from cow’s milk and sheep’s milk, the nuns have joined forces with a young couple, Antoine and Quitterie Dumont, who have entered the capital up to by 49%.

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A choice made while the community ” was not in a critical situation, nor even the cheese factory », Says Antoine Dumont. At 35, the new CEO is delighted to be arriving “ in an extremely peaceful and favorable context “.

An external partner to allow the nuns to refocus on their vocation

The sisters, aware that the smooth running of the cheese factory required a lot of their time, wondered about the balance of their vocation and the need to acquire more skills to ensure the sustainability of the business. And decided to look for an external partner to allow them to refocus on their call to monastic life.

The meeting with the Dumonts, who spent the spring 40 km away, in the Quitterie family, was timely. Married for 12 years, Antoine and Quitterie had just returned from an 18-month journey through Africa, with their 3 young children, when the confinement allowed them to take the time to think about the future of their family.

After fifteen years working in mergers and acquisitions, then developing and managing businesses for Antoine, and as a nurse for Quitterie, the couple had indeed felt the need to “ take the time to be with family, and, in our fast-paced world, to go out and meet others “. After having sold their Nantes house, and Antoine’s company shares, they left with Maxence, 5 and a half, Inès, 4, and Louis 2 and a half, on the roads from Morocco to France. South Africa.

Leaving unattached was a great chance, and allowed us to meet a lot of people », Says Antoine. If each of the countries crossed marked them for different reasons, the Dumonts keep fond memories of West Africa and Central Africa, where they were ” witnesses of the joy, of the welcome, and of the capacity to give the little possessed “.

For the couple, a project to unify all spheres of their life

Above all, the couple, who had read Laudato si ‘ before his departure, lived a real ” ecological conversion »During his trip. “ What we sense here in Africa is more than obvious and multiplied by 10,000, explains Antoine. We have seen entire cities of garbage, smelled the foul odors of garbage burned every night … 500,000,000 people do not have access to clean water, let alone electricity. I, who came from the world of digital and start-ups, I touched the gap of concerns, and saw how resources are plundered. “

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This awareness has sharpened in Antoine and Quitterie the desire to give meaning to their professional activities. ” During this trip, we also touched on the beautiful complementarity that we could have between us, which gave us the desire to work together, and to unify all the spheres of our life. », Confides the couple.

The realization of this desire is therefore done within the walls of the abbey, a few hundred meters from the village where they found a house. Quitterie manages the human resources of the cheese dairy (which has 7 employees, in addition to a few Cistercians working there and a couple), and the proper functioning of the store, while Antoine, who is initiated into maturing techniques , is the director. As for the children, it is at the village school that they made their new friends.


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