Over 50 young Catholics considering a career in public life gathered at Notre Dame University campus in London last Saturday to hear from Catholics working in public life about how they live out their faith in public service to others. The second “Faith in your Future” conference, organized by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, brought together eminent speakers from the world of healthcare, politics, media and social care.
Baroness Patricia Scotland QC spoke of how her parents had taught her that ‘God has given each of us a talent and that it was our job to find out what that talent was, to own it and to use it for the benefit of others. She had at one time considered a vocation to the religious life, but for various reasons, entered the legal profession instead. Stressing that a career in public life was a calling, she added that it would not be an easy one, but that there would be real opportunities to make a difference in the world.
Dr. Martin Lupton, a gynecologist, who is also Chair of the Ethics Committee of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said that in his job, in any one day, many of the important life issues such of birth, life and death could all be lived out.
He gave a powerful testimony of how an encounter with a nun who was nursing a terminally ill man living in abject poverty was a life changing experience. It was this image of the Church, not the powerful institution, but rather on its knees ministering to the most vulnerable in the world, which led him back to work in medicine. ‘The Church as a servant - that makes sense to me’, he said.
He was proud of the fact that as a Catholic he belonged to a Church which was one of the largest providers of healthcare in the world and concluded by affirming all the young people present in their life choices: ‘the Church has to have faith in each one of you, as you are its hands, its eyes and body in the world today - without you it will have no future’.
In a question and answer session which followed; the participants were able to ask the panel members about how they balanced their public roles with their faith. Mark Hoban, MP for Fareham, said that every Catholic in public life was there to serve all of God’s people. He said that as a Catholic working in politics, ‘you look at different cases and different circumstances…balancing it against your own faith and your own conscience’. ‘My faith has changed what I do in Westminster and in my constituency’.
At the closing Mass, principal celebrant and homilist, Fr Paul Embery gave a fitting conclusion to an inspirational day: ‘Those in public life may find, like Thomas More, that at times there are difficult choices to be made, even major clashes of loyalty to be negotiated. But this is nothing new. More followed in the footsteps of the likes of Thomas a Beckett and we follow in the footsteps of both…We should not be afraid of this – there is a dialogue to be had’.
The Conference was organized principally for some of the many young graduates who have expressed interest in participating in the Catholic Parliamentary Internship scheme which has been run by the Bishops’ Conference since 2003. This scheme places young catholic graduates with Christian MPs for a year.
More information about the internship program can be found at: www.catholicchurch.org.uk/internships