Last week I was very fortunate to attend Focus on the Family NZ’s Activ8 Pro-life internship. This was a week-long program held near Auckland and featured in-depth formation around various topics related to the respect for life and the dignity of every human person. This was an extraordinary experience, with far too much to cover in a single post, so here is a brief summary of what we covered during the five days of the internship.
As its name suggests, this internship focuses on the Pro-Life cause, taking a holistic approach to forming and instructing interns. Each day featured five or so sessions, covering a wide range of theoretical and practical topics, shared meals, free time and evening movie viewings followed by a discussion. I particularly appreciated that this program outlined the very diverse ways which we can engage in promoting life and social justice, such as using social media, being formed in apologetics to engage in fruitful discussions, peaceful campaigning or directly providing counselling, support and information to those who find themselves in hardship. As part of this Pro-Life engagement, we covered major current topics such as abortion, assisted suicide and anti-disability euthanasia. However, the focus of this internship was to teach us to value human life and find ways to incorporate this conviction into everyday life rather than purely relying on political activism. I was also struck by the strong commitment to love and self-sacrifice which underpinned the whole programme. The passion and fervour of both interns and leaders came from a deep compassion for those made victims by our culture of death, rather than from a place of self-righteous outrage, something which I had always been afraid of in the pro-life movement.
This was also a very fruitful internship thanks to the new friendships I made. The various speakers, including a number of guest speakers, were very inspiring, giving us very different perspectives on how to live out the Pro-Life message. We were blessed that we were from various denominations across New Zealand, which led to some very interesting discussions around the dinner table! There was an extraordinary sense of unity and care for one another, which crossed the boundaries of church divisions. Despite sometimes having quite different opinions on different subjects, there was always a high level of respect and a remarkable openness to dialogue and work together in peace. I am now friends with people from across the country, especially with a number from Canterbury – we are going to get to work in our region!
In summary, this internship was extremely inspiring and informative. I was captivated by the sense of joy that emanated from both leaders and interns, despite the often dark and sad topics we explored. As I mentioned before, there was a real sense of love, unity and compassion which could not be shaken by any hardship or opposition, driving us to give of ourselves to help others. I feel that I have been given a sense of purpose, excitement and resilient joy in being involved in this work. I also feel more informed and less afraid to actively engage with others on these topics. Looking forward, I hope to apply everything I learned in a number of ways. Thankfully, I have the opportunity to help with the Pro-Life club at my university as well as the Catholic club. I aim to be more active in both of these clubs, to find new ways to engage with fellow students and give to the community. There are also exciting new plans for our parish Young Adults group through which I hope we will foster a community of strong, loving and well-equipped christian young adults. I have also become more passionate about using various forms of media (such as social media, videos or this blog) to share the cause for life. Most importantly, I will continue to ask the Lord to give me new opportunities to communicate this joyful message with others, even these opportunities might seem strange or frightening!
Here are a few interesting resources, if you want to learn more about the Pro-Life movement in New Zealand:
- Brendan Malone’s The Daily: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdoukrrmuVjuRzcVkTCeldQ
- Focus on the Family NZ: http://www.family.org.nz/