An American Perspective on Faith in Europe

Browsing Posts published by Alex Reese


The Church

In the heart of London, just off Fleet Street, a tall white steeple resembling a wedding cake soars above St. Bride’s Church. Surrounded by iron gates and shrubbery, the stone structure remains a place of worship for the journalists who once worked in the area.

Inside the church, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, light pours through the windows. Choir stalls line the center aisle. Behind each stall, a plaque honors the news organizations and journalists who have exposed wrongdoing and informed the world for decades. continue reading…

My St. Bride’s story was quite an inspirational one and was the perfect final story on my excursion. The story refers to the hard work that goes into the journalism occupation. Sometimes journalists are so dedicated to a story that they risk their life. These people are memorialized at St. Bride’s Church in the heart of London.

The story of St. Bride’s is a great one—built by Sir Christopher Wren, the Great Fire of London, bombed and rebuilt after World War II, the ancient crypt’s discovery, etc. But I chose not to elaborate on the history as one might do in a research paper. Rather, I decided to reflect upon the people who are honored at St. Bride’s by its memorial altar. That story seemed more relevant and relatable.

The atmosphere at St. Bride’s alone can provide great inspiration. But I was also inspired by the words of BBC staff member Sam Whipple. He said that news-gathering can be quite dangerous, but the danger comes with the job title. He said the BBC takes extraordinary measures to make sure nothing happens to its reporters and crew, but no guarantees can really be made.

It really made me think: Am I ready for that kind of a commitment to journalism?

After having my computer stolen in London, I had limited computer access and, therefore, limited Internet access. But on June 11, I assumed all that would change as I ventured to Greece to visit my cousin at her house on the island of Mykonos. I was mistaken.

Mykonos is a small island of about 41 square miles that’s home to 9,300 people (not to mention the vast number of tourists who venture onto the island from cruise ships on a daily basis). The island is small but still manages to maintain a modern flair among its ancient history. My cousin’s house sits atop a small hill, overlooking the Chora (meaning town in Greek) where her father’s restaurant resides. Outside, from the patio, you can see the ocean touching the horizon. It is a beautiful place—tranquil during the day, boisterous at night. Lying on the beach is a daily activity before gallivanting into town to discover the amazing night life. But one thing was missing from my Grecian vacation … Internet access. continue reading…

For my entire life I have had a passion for writing, especially creative writing. I have always been particularly skilled in telling stories on paper and making a piece come to life. I have had the ability to think outside of the box and think creatively to make something boring and dull seem intriguing. I once wrote a personal essay comparing my abilities to Beatles songs. But, I fear that I may have lost this ability throughout the past year. And that will prove to be particularly unfortunate as I put together my next project.

Leigh Anne and I have decided to do a profile piece on St. Bride’s Church which has become known as the Journalists’ Church because of its honors and dedications to journalists. I am so excited about the story because it has such a strong connection to me and my future career. But here’s the catch… Leigh Anne and I have switched places for this project. Leigh Anne will be putting together a picture slide show while I remember how to write an article.

Since beginning my track towards broadcast journalism, my creative writing skills have diminished. I have been taught to write as if I were speaking to a 5th grader or my 80 year old grandmother. AKA, I have been told to dumb down my writing and report pure facts and statistics. This does not sit well with me.

Although I continue to get creative with my broadcast pieces and learn how to write in a unique way for television, I fear that my ability to write creative articles may have been lost somewhere down the line.

This will certainly be a challenge for me and I am going to do have to do some serious soul searching. However, I think that my personal connection with the piece will ignite some inspiration within me and, in turn, help me to develop an interesting and unique story.

After having my computer stolen, I was left with a decision. I could carry on with the complex stories that I had once planned, or I could do more accessible and realistic stories that fit my time constraints. Needless to say, I chose the latter.

Leigh Anne and I have decided to do a story about music and religion. We originally planned on looking at three different religions and comparing and contrasting the relationship their music has with their faith. But because of limited time and resources (Remember? My computer was stolen.), I chose to cover only two. I am not comparing and contrasting the music of the Sikh religion to that of the Anglican Church. continue reading…

Saturday evening I returned to the flat after a successful day of reporting with Leigh Anne. We had grabbed burgers at a pub on the way back and were planning a relaxing night out to see Sex and the City 2. Unfortunately, our plans quickly changed.

When we returned to the flat, everything appeared normal at first. But as I entered my bedroom, I noticed that my jewelry was lying across my bed. I had sworn that I put it away that morning, but I figured that one of the girls had borrowed a necklace or pair of earrings while I was gone for the day. But that too seemed strange.

I immediately checked the top drawer of my dresser where the jewelry case had once rested alongside my computer. As I opened the drawer and saw no computer, my heart skipped a beat… or two… or 20! I yelled at Leigh Anne to check for her computer. It too was missing. I soon realized that we had been the victims of a burglary. continue reading…

Rome wasn’t built in a day, but my love for it sure was.

Initially, I was a bit insecure and apprehensive about the culture shock and the language barrier. When I arrived at the apartment on the first day, my jaw nearly hit the floor. I have never had to share such a small space (even my dorm room was larger than this). Although there were multiple rooms, including a kitchen and two bathrooms, Leigh Anne and I got stuck with the smallest of them all. I started to question the city and whether I could handle the lifestyle here.

But that night, Kristin, Janessa, Leigh Anne and I went out to grab a bite to eat and walk through a small section of the city. That is the night I fell in love with Rome. continue reading…

Today we’re off to interview our source, Paul Harman from the local Prelature of Opus Dei. He has been extremely helpful and provided us with a great deal of information to look at on the Web about the group. He also is allowing us to go to a residence hall at Trinity College whose pastoral care is done by Opus Dei. Exciting!

Now that I’m finally seeing the pieces of this story come together, I’m getting really exciting about the final project. I hope it doesn’t let me down!

After meeting with Carol, James and Paul McNamara on Sunday night, we agreed that we should carry our story over to the other countries to take a look at their local Opus Dei groups and see if they differ in any way.

Pictures and video will come with the next post. Hopefully tonight’s interview goes well!

Leigh Anne and I have taken on the mission of profiling the Opus Dei Prelature within Dublin and exploring its unique approach to practicing its faith.We were thrilled to receive some helpful tips from two communications professors at Dublin City University — Paul McNamara and Patrick Kinsella. They provided us with some great suggestions for potential angles and gave us contact information for the local Opus Dei group.

After talking to Paul and Patrick, Leigh Anne and I realized we had minimal knowledge about the Opus Dei Prelature as a whole, so we decided to do some research in the DCU communication computer lab. We read almost the entire contents of the Opus Dei: Ireland website and gathered historical information about the group from other websites. We also read reports on Opus Dei groups around the world.

Before our extensive research quest, we sent an e-mail to Paul Harmon, an information correspondent for the local Opus Dei group that Patrick had directed us to. We didn’t hear back from him at all yesterday.

Today, when we returned from our trip to Belfast, Leigh Anne received a response from Mr. Harmon, and we set up an interview for Tuesday. Tomorrow we will have the day to report and work on our project; but because our interview is not until Tuesday, we plan at least to take some pictures/video of the exterior of the Opus Dei learning center down the road from our hotel.

I’m very excited to venture into unchartered waters and hear what Mr. Harmon has to say about his religious group’s position in today’s society!