Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Staying in Rome with the Hot Cross Bun Sisters

Whilst in Rome the interns stayed in the beautiful and very welcoming Casa Santa Brigida, located on Piazza Farnese in the heart of the historical centre of the city, and a few metres away from the English College. The Casa itself is a XV century building, in which the Sisters of the ‘Brigidine Order’ work tirelessly to make the stay of their guests a pleasant one. In the first floor of the house it is possible to visit the three rooms where Saint Bridget lived and died; other perks included the view from the roof terrace and the friendliness of the other guests.
The 'Hot Cross Bun' Sisters! Can you see why?
For more information about this hotel and other hotels of the Brigidine order click here

Brussels Intern

Accommodation in Rome, Casa Santa Brigida, Piazza Farnese

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Visit to Rome

Early on Monday morning, the interns will be on their way to the airport for a once in a lifetime trip to Rome.
The visit is packed full of exciting meetings with important people in the Vatican, Mass in St Peter's Basilica, a tour of the Vatican Gardens and some free time to explore this beautiful city.

Casa Santa Brigida - our accommodation in Rome
After arriving mid-morning and settling into our accommodation for the three days we are in Italy's capital city, we will meet Fr John Paul Leonard who is the Pastoral Director of the Venerable English College which is next door to Casa Santa Brigida for a tour of the College and Mass.     
After lunch we have a meeting with   Lesley-Anne Knight who is the Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis. Prior to her appointment, she was International Director of CAFOD, the Caritas member in England and Wales and in the course of more than 25 years in international development, she has also worked with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Oxfam, and HelpAge International. As Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis, Lesley-Anne Knight manages the General Secretariat in the Vatican City, and the confederation’s delegations to the United Nations in New York and Geneva.
Following this, we are meeting Monsignor Philip Whitmore from the Secretariat of State. The Secretariat of State is the oldest and most important dicastery of the Roman Curia and is the pre-eminent department of the Vatican. Cardinal Bertone, the current Secretary of State is seen as the Prime Minister of the Vatican, the deputy to the Pope and is in charge of the political and diplomatic activities of the Holy See. Mgr Philip Whitmore is a priest of the Westminster diocese and works on translation and papal speeches within the Secretariat.
We are planning to meet up with Peter Stoddart, Catholic Parliamentary Intern last year, who is in his first year training for the priesthood at the Venerable English College, for dinner in the evening.
The stunning Vatican Gardens
After Mass celebrated by Fr John Paul Leonard first thing on Tuesday morning, we have more meetings lined up.  We are meeting Fr Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican Press Office and Irish priest, Mgr Paul Tighe, who is the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communication.  In the afternoon, we are walking through the beautiful Vatican Gardens to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences to meet the Chancellor of the university, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo.  In the evening, we have been invited to dinner at the British Embassy to the Holy See hosted the Deputy Head of Mission.
Early on Wednesday morning we are going to Mass at St Peter’s Basilica followed by meetings at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas. After some free time on Wednesday afternoon, sadly we have to return to London.

St Peter's Basilica
I am incredibly excited about our visit to Rome. This really is a breathtaking list of inspiring people that we are meeting. We are extremely grateful for the unique opportunity we have been given as Catholic Parliamentary and Public Affairs interns to do this and I sincerely hope that we the make the most of it.
During our time in Rome we will be interviewing some of the people we meet and taking lots of pictures – so watch this space when we get back!  

Naomi Brandon
Public Affairs intern 

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

A busy bank holiday

Not being one to let a Bank Holiday go to waste, my past three days have been pretty busy. Some of the interns, staying in Newman House for our 11 day holiday (or 7 for those with those three days working!) were perfectly placed to get a spot for the Royal Wedding. Danny, ever the early bird, bagged a good spot as a reward for his 3am start. I headed down a bit later but still got near the Abbey on Parliament’s Square. We didn’t have a TV near, but had a lady with a radio, and listened to the vows being said over the large speakers in the Square. I normally hate jostling to get a space within huge crowds, but the day was exciting and we got quite into the party spirit! After getting back to Newman House we re-watched the whole days’ events on TV, spotting ourselves behind Fiona Bruce! We had been behind the BBC cameras, spotted Bruce, Andrew Marr and some sky reporters as well as some celebs as they entered the Abbey.

Sunday saw the Beatification of John Paul II. Attending Mass in the morning, I skipped watching the coverage online, but headed down to Westminster Cathedral in the afternoon for the special screening of the Beatification Mass. There was a polish choir – it was set up by the Catholic Polish Mission - as well as the Cathedral community.
There was an emotional documentary on John Paul II, then the re-transmission, with prayers from Bishop Stack (Archbishop-elect), and a Polish Rector. After toasting JPII in the pub we headed back to Newman House.  

Following the Beatification there was a lot of discussion on twitter debating miracles and the process of beatification, which led to me being able to write a few articles on the topic. I submitted a blog post for the Youth Blog too, which hopefully should be available soon.
On Monday I got up early to travel to Southwark Cathedral, south of the River, for the Mass for Migrants. The Mass was colourful, the hymns were sung joyously and there was a great celebratory mood! The procession saw people of many different nationalities celebrate their diversity, representing migrants across London.
Afterwards the groups processed across Waterloo bridge to the London Assembly marking 10 years since London Citizens launched a campaign for a fair wage. Over 2000 people attended the Mass, and many continued on for the procession. It was great seeing the work people do, to help others – and in this case – while also celebrating their roots.
All in all a very busy bank holiday! Next stop Rome…