As temperatures in London soared to record heights for this time of year, the 2011/12 Catholic Parliamentary Interns zipped up their jackets, grabbed their umbrellas and headed out for a bracing walk along the coast of East coast of Northern Ireland. Ignoring texts inviting us to bbq’s back home, we made (yet another) cup of tea and tried not to think about the last burst of summer we were missing out on.
It was easy not to dwell on this, however, as we navigated our way through Morning Prayer, informal discussions led by Fr James Hanvey, Mass, Adoration and, of course, meal times, during the first of our retreats this year.
We stayed at Drumalis, near Larne in Northern Ireland, which is a beautiful retreat centre with everything you need for a peaceful weekend including beautiful grounds, a small yet striking chapel and comfortable accommodation.
Having had an intense week of meetings and induction days, Drumalis allowed us to stop and take stock of the incredibly fortunate position we find ourselves in. The tranquillity experienced at Drumalis standing in stark contrast to the hectic lifestyles we’ve thrown ourselves into in London.
We shared personal experiences and opinions about prayer and faith, what we hoped for this year and how we feel about being young Catholics in today’s increasingly secular society.
We also shared a couple of cheeky Chinese take-aways and got to see people in different lights. As we will be spending a lot of time together this year it was important for us to find common ground, other than our faith.
The time we spent in Drumalis has given us a solid foundation for the journey we are all about to embark on as we take up our placements, a journey that is bound to be both professionally challenging and spiritually rewarding.