Tuesday, 19 January 2010

It begins…

Or rather it began! Three months into the internship we thought it was about time we posted something, so that this year’s applicants know what they’re letting themselves in for! The first term’s been hectic but we’ve all learnt a lot and are really settling into our jobs and life at Newman House. Now the first term is over this is a natural point to reflect on what has gone by.

The first two weeks were a series of induction events; by the end of it we had introduced ourselves to many of the movers and shakers in Catholic London, ranging from Cafod through to Archbishop Nichols. It was immediately off to St Bueno’s in rural north Wales for our opening retreat. Silence at mealtimes was only punctuated by the light fizzing of Frisbee through the cold Welsh air. The full complement of interns (those based in London and in Brussels) drank tea with James Hanvey SJ, who led our retreat, walked through the beautiful countryside and enjoyed the peace and quiet away from London. We shared our faith journeys, explored different types of prayer and walked through the dark to the local pub.

This jetsetting life continued as we represented the Bishops’ Conference at the first Catholic Social Days for Europe in Gdansk, along with Philippa Gitlin, the Director of Caritas Social Action. At 4 in the morning, with a taxi driver only staying awake thanks to copious amounts of Red Bull, ‘To Luton airport please?’ said Will. The driver blinked thrice and moved into second gear. Highlights of the conference included a lecture by Professor Gosta Esping-Andersen on solidarity in the family and a German MEP falling asleep whilst taking part in one of the panel discussions. We also took a trip to the Westerplatte where World War II began, participating in a service of remembrance, and touring the important historic location. We also experienced an evening in a Gdansk parish, enjoying the hospitality of a very kind priest.

As soon as we returned back from Poland, the House returned from the summer recess and we swiftly settled in to the routine for the next nine weeks. It was also an opportunity to get to know the rest of the Newman House community a bit better. Part of last term’s excitement in Parliament included tickets to PMQs, seeing the Queen in all her robes and finery at the State Opening of Parliament and the Parliamentary Carol Service sitting two benches along from David Cameron, John Bercow and Jack Straw! We went to lectures, hearing the Chief Rabbi, John Varley, and Baroness Shirley Williams. Other highlights included a visit to the Cardinal Hume Centre and meetings with Catholic journalists.

Our lectures at Heythrop College in a Masters in Contemporary Ethics are challenging and interesting. We all passed the first piece of coursework and are looking forward with trepidation to completing two end of year essays during a general election campaign!

Having enjoyed the build-up to Christmas together, including a Christmas meal at Newman House and various Carol services in and around Westminster, we went our separate ways for a well-deserved Christmas break!

Stay tuned for the next instalment!