By Lauren Colegrove
VATICAN CITY – I applied for the Vatican internship program through Villanova University thinking that I would learn about journalism by observing/shadowing reporters, proofreading articles, attending general audiences — only across the ocean from the campus, language, and culture I was familiar with. Although I sort of understood how a newsroom worked, at least in theory, I knew next to nothing about Rome other than that the food was excellent and that I absolutely had to throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain before I left.
On my first day of the internship, after wandering around the city with my tourist map in hand, trying to read the hidden street signs and always managing to end up at the Tiber River no matter which direction I walked in, I finally made it to the Rome bureau of Catholic News Service. I was given a tour of the office, went to the cafe downstairs with my new co-workers to get a cappuccino, and settled down at what I now fondly consider to be my desk to read an article about a cardinal. I figured that I pretty much had this whole newsroom routine figured out.
A couple of hours later the pope announced his plans to resign, and the next few days are kind of a blur.
This is one of the most impressive aspects of a newsroom — the transition and balance between the pace of a “normal” day and unexpected chaos. This semester, I got a healthy dose of both — from waking up at 4:30 a.m. to attend the papal installation Mass to blogging about a seminarian soccer match, and everything in between. I spent a lot of quality time around St. Peter’s Basilica, was present for overflowing press conferences, smiled in the audience as Pope Francis stopped to kiss babies and will always remember the sound of Pope Benedict’s voice the first time I heard him speak in person. I’ve done formal interviews and scribbled notes on the back of scrap paper during impromptu interviews St. Peter’s Square, learning from all sorts of situations about the different aspects of newsgathering and what goes into making an informative and interesting story.
This spring I enjoyed being a part of the engaging world of reporting in one of the most fascinating cities imaginable. Being in the heart of the Catholic world, as well as what was once the focal point of an empire, gave me the chance to learn about a new culture and delve more deeply into Catholicism and share it with others through my articles. The excitement of working with a news service that covers religion during one of the most interesting and transitional times for the church was more than anything I could have imagined, and I can honestly say that I looked forward to going into the office every single morning. It’s going to be hard to leave CNS, but I know that if I’m ever back in Rome (and I should be since I threw a coin in the Trevi Fountain) I’ll make sure to catch up at the regular café and reminisce about the time I first grabbed a cappuccino there on that historic morning.
Editor’s Note: Lauren’s intern experience also included being interviewed — along with other Villanova students — by NBC’s Matt Lauer on the “Today” program. You can watch here.