June 9, 2006

‘Pure Love’: Chastity talk is first program at new performing arts center

By Mary Ann Wyand

Opening night at Our Lady of Providence Jr./Sr. High School’s new Sam & Paula Robinson Performing Arts Center on April 21 in Clarksville featured the student production of the popular Broadway musical Cats.

But the first program held there for New Albany Deanery high school students was a “Pure Love” presentation on April 20 by nationally known chastity speaker and author Jason Evert, a staff apologist for Catholic Answers, which is based in San Diego, Calif.

His abstinence education programs in late April at Our Lady of Providence High School, Marian College in Indianapolis and six other Catholic high schools in the archdiocese were sponsored by the archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education’s A Promise to Keep: God’s Gift of Human Sexuality program in partnership with Marian College and the high schools.

Providence senior Marcie Huber, a member of St. John the Baptist Parish in Starlight, said Evert’s message about the importance of saving sex for marriage was presented “in teenager language to where we could understand the meaning of it.”

Evert combined educational information with entertaining stories, Marcie said, which made his abstinence education talk fun for the students.

“He kept my attention more than any chastity speaker [I’ve heard],” she said. “He told a few jokes. I’m in drama, and I thought he could be an improv actor because he was very good on his feet. I really liked how he incorporated his wife into his speech because that gave the girls’ view, too. He talked about how their love for each other is so deep. He also gave out books and rosaries at the end of his talk.”

Marcie said she liked his message about reclaiming chastity for teenagers that have made the wrong choices about their sexuality.

“I liked how he said even if you’ve made mistakes you can still come back and correct it,” she said, “and it’s not like God is going to hate you forever for it. … You can come back and make it better [by practicing chastity again] and still be OK later on for your marriage.”

Marcie plans to study engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute in the fall, and said she will take Evert’s “Pure Love” message with her to college.

“His speech is one that I’ll remember,” she said. “I think it’s a beautiful thing for people to wait for their spouse.”

Providence junior Robbie Steiner of Floyds Knobs, a member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in New Albany, said he also heard Evert speak two years ago at Holy Family Parish in New Albany.

“He turns a serious topic into an entertaining, motivational speech,” Robbie said. “He’s definitely very humorous. He really can relate to teenagers.”

Robbie was the male lead in the school’s production of Cats, and plans to major in musical theater and broadcast journalism in college. He said it’s easy for teenagers to relate to Evert’s chastity message because he is such a good communicator.

“It helps me to know that there is someone backing me up [about practicing abstinence],” Robbie said. “In the long run, it’s definitely going to be the right decision.”

Melinda Ernstberger, principal of the New Albany Deanery interparochial high school, said the students gave Evert a standing ovation after his talk.

“He was extremely well-received,” Ernstberger said. “A number of students came up on the stage afterward to talk with him. It’s a difficult topic, one that so many people are uncomfortable talking about, and he was able to relate to the kids. Yet, at the same time, he never wavered from his ‘Pure Love’ message. He hit all the issues straight on.” †


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