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Youth reflect on their Internship Program experiences

Maritsa standing in front of St. John The Baptist Church
Maritsa
By on September 1, 2021

Another year has come to a close in the Youth Internship Program. Some of our amazing 13 interns graciously gave me permission to share their impact and highlight statements. 

Journeying with these young people is such a privilege! Here are some excerpts from thoughts they shared.

You can see why I love my job! 

Donna Rourke
Youth Ministry Animator

Maritsa
YIP intern for St. John the Baptist

Early July 2021, at the beginning of the week, I got a reminder on my phone saying my YIP exit interview is this week. I suddenly felt sad and didn’t feel that I am ready for this to be over yet! YIP has been a big part of my life, and I started thinking of ways and things I can offer to benefit the program! For example, being a mentor or on the panel interview etc. I just am not ready to not be part of the Youth Internship Program.

Through my YIP time, Donna has encouraged and  supported me through every obstacle until I was being heard and seen in my community. As a young person who is part of a community that adults run, it was difficult to be seen and heard as an equal, but I was treated like an equal in the end of my internship.

I grew up in a Christian family and community where no questions are asked; we are just supposed to follow the priest and what the Bible says. This year’s faith formation sessions helped me unpack my faith and be able to ask the big questions. I learned that faith is not just as simple as attending church every Sunday! And just like an onion, I was able to peel back layer by layer to get to the truth and be able to find answers to the questions that I was never supposed to ask.

In the faith formation sessions, I was able to be who I am and be true to myself. During our faith formation sessions, I learned that faith is not a room that has four walls; it is a huge playground that has no limits, and it comes in various shapes and forms and colours and heights.

EmilyEmily
YIP Intern for PWRDF

Having a mentor, a person dedicated to listening, providing advice, and bringing new perspectives is quite possibly the part of the program I will miss most. Facetiming with my mentor every couple of weeks and letting her into my world [made me feel] vulnerable at the beginning, but it was so rewarding as we both shared life with each other. To have someone looking out for my well-being, someone to also talk about the YIP program with, and to hear the faith perspectives of someone a little older than was invaluable to my growth throughout this program. …

Faith Formation sessions were grace-filled and the love put into the content of these discussions was so evident. We discussed all things, Hell, does it exist? Who goes there? How could a loving God use this imagery? We discussed what faith looks like in action. What does praying look like? What could praying look like? We discussed what beliefs we were taught growing up in church or have learned that maybe don’t serve us anymore. What beliefs do we hold with a closed hand? Which ones could we hold with an open one? A belief I know I hold with a closed hand is that I am God’s beloved. A belief I came to discover that I hold with an open hand is that Jesus was a white man, the way He is often depicted in iconography. These sessions created space for questions I was holding as a young adult and a chance to explore things I hadn’t thought about yet, allowing myself to be grounded in my faith further. This conversation was so relevant to my life that I often asked my mentor, my church friends, and my current small group the same questions. 

On Leadership sessions: Leadership sessions were SO awesome!! From sessions about confronting anti-black racism, to how to navigate casual and stressful conversations, to sessions on mental health, and gender diversity, I was always left with so much to learn and act on. These sessions left me feeling informed, empowered, and brave. The discussion questions in the Leadership Sessions were always incredibly thoughtful, intentional, and authentic, which bred fantastic discussion. In breakout rooms we were able to dream, ask, and imagine what the world might look like if we cared for our bodies and minds more, if we put aside and investigated biases, and shared God’s love with the world more. The leaders of these sessions were consistently enthusiastic about the topic bringing a contagious energy that I could always feel. 

Being able to be part of an organization doing such wonderful work like the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, was such a glorious opportunity! I was able to join a small team of young people within the organization working to share the stories of PWRDF through a podcast. I learned lessons in communicating with a team, the pace things need to happen to ensure full inclusion of all members, and how to create a podcast episode from start to finish!! It is inspiring to think back eight months ago [when I had] nothing but a blank Google Doc and now to have podcast episodes on Spotify is crazy! YIP’s consistent connection with my supervisor was also vital to my success in this placement. 

Overall, the Youth Internship was an enriching, dedicated, and fantastic program for young people to be a part of. Donna, the leader of the program, was available any time I wanted to check in, reflect on life or the things we were learning, or pray over something happening in my life. The prayer team was a powerful source of inspiration and strength, being able to exercise this faith muscle and pray for the people in the YIP community and know they were also praying for me. Every leader in the program I encountered was excited to be there and also explained concepts with relevant examples for young people. 

NaomiNaomi
YIP intern for Children’s Ministry St Alban

YIP was a positive experience for me. I learned many valuable skills that will definitely help me in future professional settings. I really appreciated the Leadership and Faith Formation sessions, particularly a session where we got to meet the bishop. What I appreciated most about that session was how approachable and how ‘near to us’ the bishop was. Bishops are often seen as being somehow ‘far away’ from us individuals, almost inaccessible. However, inviting him to one of the Faith sessions deconstructed that belief. Personally for me, one of the best parts of YIP was learning through the relationships developed with my supervisor, Donna and my coworkers. Coming back to YIP for a second year, I am looking forward to more relationship building.

CalebCaleb
YIP Intern for KAIROS

YIP provides all interns with a safe environment where we are encouraged to share opinions with one another. 

The faith formation sessions provided a great chance for me to restore my faith during the pandemic as it gave me the opportunity to speak freely and ask questions.  

YIP has taught me how to manage my time and become more organized in a professional manner in a workplace environment  

In the midst of the pandemic YIP faith formation and leadership sessions gave me something to look forward to, by speaking with my fellow interns and learning as we went along. 

Callum
YIP Faith Formation Intern

YIP helped keep me grounded in my last year of high school, it brought stability in a chaotic time.

YIP convinced me that I am valued within the diocese and the church and I will be eternally grateful for that understanding.

AlexAlex
YIP Intern for the Glebe Wellness Centre

For anyone who is considering going into YIP, …my advice for you would be to do it. You meet a lot of other amazing people, especially Donna. She is always there for you to support you and all round one of the most amazing people you’ll ever meet. You get a lot of experience and a lot of lessons about things that you are definitely going to need in the future. I learned a lot of things. Going into YIP was definitely one of the best decisions I ever made.

Freddy
YIP Intern for the Parish of Bearbrook-Navan-Blackburn

Being a part of the YIP program this past year has had a huge impact on me. … Getting to discuss our faith and [how to navigate] difficult conversations helped me step outside my comfort zone and discuss the topics that aren’t usually brought up. Having a chance to meet other youth and my mentor kept up the social aspect of my life during a time where we all had to stay at home. The work placement was tremendously helpful as it gave me real life experience in the work field that I now can use for the future. 

Author

  • Donna Rourke

    Donna Rourke is Animator of Youth Ministries and the Youth Internship Program (YIP).

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