Thursday, 15 March 2012

Benediction and Dinner with Mgr Armitage

On Tuesday evening, we were hosted by Rt Rev Mgr John Armitage, Vicar General of Brentwood. As Vicar-General, he exercises episcopal jurisdiction on behalf of the Bishop, and is the second-highest ranking cleric in the diocese after Bishop Thomas McMahon. We had previously met Mgr Armitage at a Catholic Voices event, and he is also well known for his work with London Citizens, a community organising alliance supported by figures such as Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor and London Mayor Boris Johnson, and knew him to be a man of incredible insight and passion.

Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament was a beautiful way to begin the evening, and a few of us even found ourselves assisting- a first for me, I will admit, having never been inside a cassock before..

Afterwards, we joined Mgr Armitage in the presbytery, and over dinner (which was delicious- it’s all about the pastry) we discussed all manner of issues in the church, and in the community. His parishes in east London is touched by many social and economic problems, and he is a vocal advocate for communities working together to make politicians aware of the problems they face, and the solutions they need. London Voices has campaigned for a ‘London living wage’, has pressed for the employment opportunities of the London Olympics to benefit local people first, and has called on the Government to regularise failed asylum seekers and visa over-stayers proficient in English who are already established and hard-working members of their communities.

London Voices also offer internships and a Summer Academy, as well as being linked with Queen Mary’s Master’s Degree in Community Organising, the first in the world, recognising as the Bishops have done with our own scheme the value of preparing young people with a thorough and practically based awareness of the important issues facing our communities and our world today.

Great conversation, delicious food and good company- Fr John, you’re a gentleman.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Bonnie Greer - Discontent with her identity?

 Earlier this week the interns attended a lecture organised by the 3 Faiths Forum and hosted by Amnesty International.

The lecture, entitled ‘Identity and its discontents’, was given by Bonnie Greer – and boy has she had some identity crises in her time.

Bonnie Greer
In her lecture, Bonnie took the audience through the various stages of her life; from being a working class, black, child to a student activist to a feminist and even gaining British citizenship. 

None of the interns present were quite able to empathise with Bonnie’s identity dilemma. The talk ended up posing more questions than it answered but at least showed how people who had no idea who they are can become pretty successful.

Compared to the political, religious and economical lectures we have attended over the past few months, this talk was by far more abstract.

Bonnie spoke of labels that we give ourselves and how these can sometimes be at odds with the way we are perceived, or labelled, by society. In the past few years we have been schoolchildren, sixth-formers, university students, graduates and now interns. What will be the next label we apply to ourselves? And will it suit us? Watch this space for updates...

As we have all survived the mid-term reviews we are now turning our attention ever more to life after the internship will involve. This requires thinking about who we are now and who we want to become. How we see ourselves at present and we want to be seen by others, say, this time next year. Everyone except Matthew continues to contemplate potential unemployment – a label Bonnie, amongst all her anguish, has apparently never had to deal with.

On a brighter note we have a dinner with Mgr Armitage to look forward to next week and meeting with the applicants for next year’s internship at their interview days later this month. If only they knew what they are letting themselves in for...! 

Congratulations are also in order for Daniel's family and especially his mum as she was baptised last month.