by Doug Weller
Special to The Leaven
WASHINGTON — Jose Montoya is learning about his Catholic faith from a new perspective this summer — the nation’s capital.
The University of Kansas junior is interning with Catholic News Service, the oldest and largest editorially independent Catholic news agency in the world, based in Washington. It was formed by the U.S. bishops in 1920 and is the service from which The Leaven and scores of other diocesan papers receive their national and international church news that they then make available to their readers in their papers and on their websites.
As a reporting intern, therefore, Montoya has already covered a variety of stories that have been published in Catholic newspapers across the country.
“The coolest part is going to the web and seeing which papers saw your work and used it,” he said in a telephone interview.
Montoya hails from Los Lunas, New Mexico, just south of Albuquerque. He didn’t waste any time immersing himself in Catholic activities when he first arrived in Lawrence. He initially transferred his Knights of Columbus membership to the council at Corpus Christi Parish, then to the St. Lawrence Catholic Center at KU. There, he also leads a Bible study.
His involvement at St. Lawrence is on top of a myriad of other activities. He’s a member of the Marching Jayhawks, which performs at athletic events, and belongs to the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, a men’s music fraternity.
He also takes part in Playmaker Central, a student-run online media operation covering KU sports.
Montoya, who is majoring in sports management and journalism, said he looked at a variety of internships, but the opportunity at CNS caught his eye. He read an online testimonial from a Benedictine College, Atchison, student who had previously interned at CNS.
His internship came courtesy of The Fund for American Studies, which places students in a variety of opportunities in the Washington area.
Julie Asher, national editor for CNS, said her agency partners with TFAS and the National Journalism Center for summer interns and typically has three or four each summer.
They are valuable to the organization, she said, because they help take the place of full-time staffers on vacation.
“It’s not sorting files. With various staff members taking vacations, we need their work, for sure,” she said.
Montoya has proved to be a valuable addition, Asher said.
“It’s good having him here. He’s very energetic and eager,” she said. “We try to have a mix of welcoming [the interns’] ideas and what stories we need done.
Montoya’s busy life at KU had prepared him for a hectic summer in the capital. In addition to working full-time at CNS, he is taking an economics class. On the side, he’s had a hands-on lesson in urban transportation.
TFAS interns live in dormitories at George Washington University, which is southwest of the Capitol complex. CNS is located at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops headquarters in northeast Washington. And his economics class is at George Mason University, in Fairfax, Virginia.
The night class, on top of his internship, adds up to a 14-hour day on Tuesdays and Fridays.
“So, I’m all over the D.C. metro area,” Montoya said. “I learned to ride the Metro. It’s a little different than taking Bus 29 at KU.”
After graduation, he said he hopes to find a job in communications in a university athletic department, then eventually become an athletic director. The CNS internship, which ended July 31, was one more experience to put him on that path.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said.