May 1, 2015

Chastity program celebrates 20 years of helping youths live lives of ‘honesty, decency and integrity’

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin addresses the high school mentors of A Promise to Keep, an archdiocesan chastity program, during a luncheon at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis on April 16. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin addresses the high school mentors of A Promise to Keep, an archdiocesan chastity program, during a luncheon at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis on April 16. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

For 20 years, “A Promise to Keep” has helped more than 10,000 archdiocesan teenagers not just keep their promises to live chaste lives, but it’s been helping those same teens mentor more than 100,000 junior high students to do the same.

A Promise to Keep (APTK) started in 1994 as a pilot program sponsored jointly by St. Vincent Health and the archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education.

Margaret Hendricks and Sylvia Brunette have led the program from the start. Despite two decades of dedication, they point to the high school mentors as the real heroes.

Each year, those heroes are invited to a luncheon in their honor. This year, about 170 of the 374 mentors attended the program at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis on April 16.

The event featured talks by Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, Father Eric Augenstein, archdiocesan director of vocations, and a keynote address by Aaron Hollowell—a teacher at Cardinal Ritter Jr./Sr. High School in Indianapolis—and his fiancé, Jenny Lutgring. (Related: See a videos of the talks here)

At the conclusion of the lunch, five mentors shared their stories and thoughts about the APTK program. Below are excerpts from their talks.


Caroline Combs—a senior at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis:

Caroline Combs“By expressing my beliefs in chastity and purity, I have positively impacted my friends and family, encouraging them to follow God’s will as well. By doing so, I have discovered that my relationships have become a lot stronger, as we are constantly encouraging one another to not succumb to potentially harmful situations.

“Reflecting back on my junior high days, I recall looking forward to the A Promise To Keep visits. Going to a small Catholic school, I wasn’t exposed to many harmful circumstances in middle school. But once I reached high school, I understood the purpose of it all.

“I learned that even though some pressuring situations are more serious than others, everyone still goes through some sort of peer pressure during high school. A Promise to Keep has taught me, as a spectator and as a mentor, how to cope with just about any uncomfortable situation that I have come across. With this, I have set my standards higher for myself and have truly become a stronger and more secure person as a whole.”


Macy Pohl—a senior at Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis:

Macy Pohl“I can honestly say that this program has truly made an impact on my life. In high school, we are faced with so many challenges and obstacles that will test our faith. Growing up, we are taught what is right and what is wrong. When we get to high school, we start to make our own choices and decisions.

“For me, I always knew that I wanted to stay chaste and abstain from alcohol and drugs. A Promise to Keep has always kept me on the right path, and is a constant reminder of the kind of person I want to be for the rest of my life.

“When I was in grade school, I remember the days we would have A Promise to Keep come to our school. It made me think at an early age of how I can handle situations where my faith could be tested. Now having gone through most of my high school, I am very thankful for this program and how it has prepared me.”


Anthony Ryback—a senior at Cardinal Ritter Jr./Sr. High School in Indianapolis:

Anthony Ryback“These kids see our message, and see the embodiment of that message in us, and see that living a life of chastity and purity can be done. We are role models, we are leaders, we are the outliers in a society that can sometimes have differing views from ours.

“The Promise to Keep program’s message of honor, integrity and purity resonates with me. It has helped keep me grounded, and has helped me down the road to becoming the man I want to be.

“This program isn’t just about pre-marital sex. It’s about honesty, decency and integrity.”

 


Libby Stahl—a senior at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis:

Libby Stahl“I really and truly believe in the message that we as mentors spread to grade schools within the different deaneries.

“I remember sitting in my eighth-grade religion class listening to the presentations from the [APTK] high school seniors. One of the mentors was a senior volleyball player [from Roncalli]. As an awkward, hopeful, future Roncalli Rebel volleyball player, I took every word she said as the absolute truth.

“Now I’m in the position she was in four years ago, and I realize the responsibility that has been placed on me as a role model.

“I have witnessed people fall victim to the empty promises of the media. When we hear this message every single day and see it everywhere we go, it becomes difficult to differentiate between the false positives of society and the actual truths from the Church that we as mentors spread.

“This program has helped me as an individual not only become stronger in my faith, but also gives me the ability to work to fight against the empty promises of the media and its followers.”


Beth Tindall—senior at Father Thomas Scecina Memorial High School in Indianapolis:

Beth Tindall“With facing all of these obstacles on spring break [declining offers of alcohol and drugs in Myrtle Beach, S.C.], it showed me how much being a peer mentor has affected me. It has made me a better person, it has helped me come closer with my spiritual side, and it has also helped me decide that I want to become a teacher, because I love teaching and I love being in the school environment.

“I would like to thank everyone in this room for helping younger students learn about making better life choices and leading by example. ‘For God did not give us a Spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control’ [2 Tim 1:7-8].”

 


To watch videos of the speakers from this year’s luncheon, including Archbishop Tobin, Father Augenstein, Aaron Hollowell and Jenny Lutgring, and the five APTK mentors, log on to bit.ly/1Qgsjo3. For more information on A Promise to Keep, log on to oce.archindy.org/a-promise-to-keep.aspx.

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