Accompanying parliamentary interns
Fr Paul Nicholson SJ and Frank Turner SJ will be providing spiritually accompaniment to the parliamentary internship programme which has just begun. The Catholic Parliamentary and Public Affairs Internship Scheme, which began in 2003, will place seven recently graduated Catholics in a variety of work placements, offering them an intensive experience of political and social action in a spiritual context. This year’s group is drawn from all over the country with representatives from Newcastle, Manchester, Exeter, Essex and London. As the programme has evolved the placements have broadened out from being just parliament based. This year’s placements include internships with CAFOD, Caritas and the Catholic Education Service. As part of the application process, the interns indicate their preferred placements.
Alongside the work experience, all of the interns will also participate in spiritual accompaniment and be given some structured space to reflect on what they are experiencing. Fr Paul will be coordinating this on behalf of the Jesuits in Britain. As well as a retreat at the beginning and end of the year, the group will attend meetings during the year where there will be a chance for individual accompaniment as well as some input. There will be workshops on discernment, how to make use of spiritual direction, prayer and faith and justice.
Isaac Withers is one of the interns and he applied to work at the Catholic Communications Network, which is based at the Bishops' Conference. A recent graduate from Birmingham University in English Literature and Creative Writing, Isaac started a blog for Youth 2000 last summer. “ I always loved writing, and realise in the current digital world, there is a real need for depth, good substance and honesty to really stand out.” Two blogs that he wrote about he felt encapsulated this and were appreciated. One was about his brother who has Downs syndrome and got a lot of public shares; the second was about pornography he received a lot of direct and private messages. All interns are looking forward to a rich and busy year ahead.