by MARJORIE DAWSON
PALMERSTON NORTH — After 400 hours as an intern with St Mary’s Parish in Palmerston North, Lara Collins hopes to work with the Marist Fathers at a mission station in Thailand near the border with Burma.
The Marists have established a centre for Aids patients and a school where Thai and Burmese children are supported. Interns from all over the world are trained there.
Ms Collins hopes to complete her contract with St Mary’s Parish by the end of 2013 and aims to work on the mission station for six months. The internship is a partnership between Palmerston North diocese and the parish, who will jointly fund her travel, accommodation and living expenses.
The internship programme is an innovative means by which young committed Catholics are invited to be a part of Church activities and prepared for a continuing role in the future.
St Mary’s is Lara’s home parish and the 20-year-old completed her schooling at St Peter’s College in 2010.
She began nursing training in 2011, but ill health forced her to put aside her studies.
Lara’s work as a leader for the 2012 confirmation programme so impressed one of the leadership team that she was invited to take on an internship. After a second approach, she made the commitment and was commissioned at an October 14 Sunday Mass. Ms Collins now works with several St Mary’s youth groups and is looking at extending her parish youth work further.
She works at the parish school one day a week, takes a years 5 and 6 youth group fortnightly, runs activities for junior parishioners after the weekly Sunday Mass, and is on the confirmation team.
Ms Collins regularly meets with her mentor, Mary Bennett, and said she is very grateful for the help and guidance given by Mrs Bennett.