For the second year in a row, interns for the Mission of the Holy See at the United Nations have been selected from the University of St. Thomas. Perspectives interviewed this year’s intern, Theresa Klein, a spring 2006 graduate with a double major in Catholic Studies and Spanish and a minor in political science.
What are your duties as an intern at the U.N.? A typical day as an intern for the Holy See here in New York City starts off with morning prayer and a staff meeting. I am assigned to various U.N. meetings where I take notes and report back to Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the U.N., in memo form. At several recent meetings on protecting the rights of migrants, I was given the chance to speak on behalf of the Holy See in order to introduce new language into an international resolution. As an intern I’m called on to be flexible and to be prepared to engage a variety of topics. I may be sent to any type of meeting, ranging from UNICEF to the Security Council.
What do you like about the position? The best part about my work is that it places me in the center of world events. Every so often I step back from it all and think, “I am watching history unfold before my eyes.” I have seen representatives from various countries squabble and diplomats unite. I have listened to speeches by well-known world leaders such as Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, acquainted myself with diverse peoples and cultures, and learned about the humanitarian, economic and social conditions of the world. Another highlight of my work is derived from the fact that I am a laywoman representative of the Holy See. With the many false stereotypes surrounding the Church’s view of women, it has been satisfying to see some of these broken when others observe my position. I believe my role also witnesses to the fact that the Church is a living, thriving body that cares about the issues, concerns and spiritual needs of modern mankind.
How did your Catholic Studies degree influence your decision to intern at the U.N.? I think that my faith coupled with my interest in politics and culture has led me to this point. Catholic Studies played a vital part. My Catholic Studies classes sparked my interest in Catholic social thought and the role of the Church in the modern world, giving me a foundation on which to understand the positions taken by the Holy See at the U.N. With the advent of globalization, our generation is witnessing a world where a click of the mouse can link us to the corners of the earth. In a world such as this there is a large potential for war and division, but also wonderful opportunities for communion and unification. With this in mind, the Holy See hopes to contribute a moral voice for all of humanity.