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 

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