By Mariah McCloskey
While most Seton Hall students are in class at nine in the morning during the week, Catherine Doolan, a School of Diplomacy student, attends mid-morning prayer at the United Nations. Participating in morning prayer is just one of the many components to her Saint John Paul II fellowship in partnership with the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See.
Doolan said she first heard about the internship through the School of Diplomacy when she asked for internship advice and expressed a strong connection to her Catholic faith. She had previously heard Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, deliver “a talk on Pope Francis’ diplomacy” in a campus event hosted by the School of Diplomacy, which helped solidify her interest in the internship.
Her faith played a large factor in her application. Doolan says she applied because, in her own words, “my faith has been a major part of my identity,” and she wanted to take on a role synthesizing this faith and her interest in diplomacy.
Doolan now serves as an intern and advisor for the Mission, with a primary focus in security-related issues. She not only has the opportunity to “attend meetings, side events, and conferences” at the U.N., but also, because of her assignment in the Security Council specifically, she attends meetings concerning security issues such as disarmament and counterterrorism.
While Doolan said the Fellowship combined with her schoolwork often feels more like a “full-time job” than just an undergraduate internship, she appreciates how it is possible for her to work at the fellowship, but remain a full-time student through online courses, in addition to continuing to keep a part-time weekend job. Doolan expressed how grateful she was to receive this firsthand experience while keeping up with her schoolwork.
Doolan is one of few students given the opportunity to witness diplomacy firsthand and see its depth beyond simply reading about it in a classroom setting. She has had the honor of “meeting diplomats who range from staff to actual permanent representatives,” and has received insight on their experiences and immense knowledge.
For example, she had the chance to spend some time speaking with Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States for the Holy See, on his experience in the area of diplomacy after he addressed the General Assembly on behalf of Pope Francis.
Doolan was also fortunate enough to represent the Holy See at a counterterrorism event hosted by President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Theresa May. There she was able to learn about current counterterrorism strategies against online propaganda spread by terrorists.
When asked about the Holy See’s goal in working with the U.N., Doolan said she felt that their duty is to communicate the Catholic Church’s centuries of experience in contributing to humanity and participating in diplomacy. She believes the Catholic Church is “highly respected by the international community” because of its tremendous contributions in “assisting humanitarian and peacekeeping missions globally.”
In terms of her personal growth, she said her work with the Holy See has given her the opportunity to promote the dignity of life, push for further human development, and advocate for the poor.
Doolan said the fellowship has “reinforced” her interest in security issues, and she now she feels she has “true working experience in diplomatic relations” that will help her throughout her career. She considers the fellowship “the most rewarding experience” in her life.
According to Doolan, her ability to “go to the United Nations every day and help represent the Holy See is an extraordinary experience with more responsibility than most U.N. interns receive.” Despite the challenges, Doolan says she would not “change a thing” about her internship.
For students looking to apply to the fellowship in the future, Doolan’s advice is to contact Dr. Catherine Ruby, Director of Internships and Career Development for the School of Diplomacy, to better understand the application process and fellowship commitment.
She also recommends researching the Holy See’s “extensive history in diplomacy and understanding the core tenants of Pope Francis’ diplomatic mission.”