Running alongside the two ‘Faith in Politics’ placement streams, there are four other pillars of the scheme: Community, Spirituality, Learning, and Pilgrimage.
The Faith in Politics internship scheme is more than just a stepping stone into a career in politics or public life, it is also a year which the interns spend closely as a group, learning and growing together, supporting each other, having fun, and cementing strong friendships.
Interns will live together in a shared house in central London with good transport links to both Parliament and CAFOD. The accommodation will be self-catered, and the interns’ monthly allowance will reflect this. The cost of accommodation and bills is covered by the scheme. Living as a community will also form part of their immersion in practical applications of CST and develop their understanding of what it means to be a Catholic today. The wellbeing of the interns both as a community and as individuals is incredibly important. The internship co-ordinator meets regularly with the interns as a group and for one-to-one catch ups to ‘check-in’ on how they are doing.
Faith and spiritual formation are a crucial part of the internship scheme. Led by the Jesuit Laudato Si’ Community based in Clapham, the interns participate in a beginning and end-of-year retreat, held at the St Beuno’s Jesuit Spirituality Centre in the beautiful surroundings of the north Wales countryside. There is also a shorter mid-year retreat which is combined with a mid-year review with the Faith in Politics team.
Each intern is allocated a personal spiritual director for the year who also accompanies them in individually guided sessions. These are treated as private and up to the individual intern to arrange with their spiritual director. While it may feel unusual at first, the interns end the year saying how valuable they found spiritual direction in navigating the transition from student to working life. Punctuating the year between the three retreats and individual sessions are group spiritual direction sessions which take place every 6-8 weeks. This offers the interns the space to discover more about themselves, each other and their faith.
The interns’ placements run from a Monday to a Thursday to similarly mirror the parliamentary week. Fridays are reserved for learning and networking opportunities. Meetings, trips and seminars are organised for interns, where they have the chance to discuss a wide range of diverse and fascinating topics with academics, journalists, business-people, parliamentarians, members of the charity sector and well-known political and religious figures. These sessions offer the interns the space to develop academically, but also to improve their networking skills.
The aim of this multi-faceted programme of “learning, seeing and doing” is for the interns to immerse themselves in discussion, debate and action on the social teaching of the Church and contemporary issues. The result will be that the interns are well-versed in Catholic Social Teaching and its practical application.
The interns participate on two foreign trips during their year on the scheme; to Rome and to the Holy Land.
While the interns’ relationships with each other and the scheme’s leadership grows throughout the year, it is often on these once-in-a-lifetime foreign visits that a real team dynamic is built and fostered.
The visit to the Holy Land will consist partly of pilgrimage, and also a way to learn about the Catholic Church and the relationship between faith and politics in this region.
The Christian community in the Holy Land represents a physical link between the modern world and the life and times of Christ – they are the ‘living stones’ of our faith. We hope that this trip will help the interns to be able to contextualise and understand the rich and often complex history of our faith, and the political challenges which this region continues to face today.
The interns have visited Rome each year since the scheme began, and it is without doubt one of the highlights of the year. The trip has two main focuses: pilgrimage and learning about the Holy See. Over the years, we have built good relationships with the people with whom the interns meet, including officials in the Holy See and the British Embassy. The trip’s pilgrimage focus includes a day trip to Assisi, Mass every day in churches around Rome, including a chapel in St Peter’s Basilica, and a visit to the Venerable English College. Plenty of time is also allocated for walking around Rome, learning about its ancient and more recent history and politics, and of course sampling its famous food!
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