Jen Bourque was a 2003 intern; she’s now chaplain at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, and on the planning committee for this year’s internship. She writes:
“I applied for the 2003 internship in the middle of the third year of my BA. I had started my degree in International Development, with a few courses in religious studies (mostly because I was interested in studying Hinduism!). As I continued, my degree came to include more and more religious studies, particularly in theology and biblical studies. I knew that I wanted to continue studying, but I also knew that somehow, my life was going to include work somewhere close to that area. By the end of my third year, I had applied for some internships with church-based development agencies, but couldn’t get any of them to work out. I was starting to think that I might look into the priesthood, but didn’t really know where to start–it seemed really frightening to look into a formal discernment process when I wasn’t really sure. Besides, I didn’t even know if the church was still ordaining young adults!
“A friend sent me details about the internship–I applied because it gave me a chance to check out what it was like to be in ordained ministry, and I was able to spend the summer thinking about whether I was called to be a priest. My parish placement gave me lots of time to see how a parish worked, what the life of a priest was really like, and to engage in long discussions with my mentor about my hopes and fears.
“After that summer, I went back to university and was able to start an official discernment process in my parish. I went to seminary right after graduation, and was ordained deacon in 2008. When I was ordained, my now-retired internship mentor gave me a stole that he had been given as an ordination gift–it often reminds me of the way in which he, and the internship as a whole helped me articulate and follow my vocation. I really feel that the internship is a great opportunity for young adults trying to figure out their role in the church, and how it might fit with their work. In fact, this year, a fellow intern and I spoke about it at the diocesan synod, and I’m really excited to be on the planning committee for this year’s programme.”