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Bower gives chastity presentation in Algona

Catholic Globe report

Members of the Office of Youth Catechesis and Evangelization have made themselves available for presentations out in the diocese.

Karmen Bower, assistant director of Youth Catechesis and Evangelization, recently gave a presentation on chastity to junior and senior high school students in Algona.

“Junior High and High School students will make decisions that will impact them for the rest of their lives,” she said. “When it comes to chastity, I want them to make the decisions that will help them be happier and lead them to heaven. These age groups have a lot of questions about the topic of sexuality and I think it is important for them to be able to find the answers from strong role models who are passionate about living chastity.”

Bower begins her presentations by reminding the students that God is in control of our love stories and that the Church gives us the tools to guard their love stories. 

“I don’t think this is something that teenagers and young adults hear often enough.  Since I am still a young adult, I love being able to relate my own experiences, struggles, and stories with young people,” she said.

According to Joyce Van Haastert, lifelong faith formation director at St. Cecelia Church, this is the first year they have used the Theology of the Body program. 

“My 9th grader faith formation students are watching the DVD’s and using the workbooks, the 8th grader faith formation students are just watching the DVD’s.  I asked Karmen to come and do a presentation to the 7th and 8th graders in the Faith Formation program.  Then I was talking to the 7th and 8th grade religion teacher at BGHS who was very interested.  She previewed my middle school TOB DVD’s and bought them for her curriculum,” she said.

When Van Haastert told her that Bower was coming to speak to the faith formation classes, the teacher asked if she thought she would come to BGHS too. 

“So then she asked the high school religion teachers and we set it up for her to present it to the 9th and 10th graders in the morning, 7th and 8th in the afternoon and the Faith Formation classes in the evening.  After seeing her presentation the BGHS high school teachers asked if she could come back and present it to the 11th and 12th graders,” VanHaastert noted.

Given that the parents have told her that students can never hear this message too much, she plans to put the presentation on the schedule every year.

“This is so important because I don’t think kids realize how precious they are in the eyes of God,” she said. “I think we have a wonderful generation of concerned, generous, clever, tolerant, non-judgmental teens.  They genuinely care about the world they live in and they care about people.  I think they think everyone is free to do and be and think for themselves and that no one has the right to interfere in anyone else’s lives, which is true to a degree.  That over abundance of tolerance though leads to a life of desensitization.  Everything is acceptable.  So without boundaries and direction, psychologically nothing including sex has value.”

She added that they deserve to know what marriage and sex really is and how it relates to their relationship with God.  

Rob Meister, theology instructor, pastoral director and Christian Leadership Moderator at Bishop Garrigan High School, said this presentation was important because so much of society portrays casual sex with little or no consequences.

“I just thought her overall message was sound and really hit home,” he said.

Sabrina Book, a 10th grader at Bishop Garriagan, said, “I found the presentation very valuable. I learned many new things about our Catholic faith that I will remember and live by. Karmen really stressed the importance of chastity. Karmen's message was very important because today's society is all about sex. The media certainly doesn't teach young people to wait until marriage. Being a teenager, obviously it isn't always easy. Your peers or friends may share slightly different moral ideals than you, so it is up to you to do the right thing.”

She acknowledged that doing the right thing can be hard, but it is important.

“Waiting until marriage to have sex is the way God wants us to live. By choosing to be chaste, we are participating in God's plan for us and fulfilling his mission here on Earth,” she said.

Patricia Brandt, a 9th grader at Bishop Garrigan, she said found the presentation to be valuable because today’s society is all about not being chaste. The presentation made the students think about what they really want in their life with their relationships with others.

“Karmen stressed many ideas or rules of our Catholic faith,” she said. “She educated us on how to live a chaste life and if we are in a situation that may not keep us chaste, she explained how to get out of that situation.”

As a teenager, she said Bower's message was important because she believe that when “we are young we need to learn about this kind of stuff so we know that it is wrong. People are having sex at a lot earlier age than years ago, and I think that the younger generation needs to know what they are getting themselves into before anything happens. We as teenagers need to be told that doing the right thing is going to be hard but it will pay off in the long run.”

God’s plan, Brandt added, is for people to save sex for marriage and in taking in the process of waiting till marriage they are not only pleasing God, but they can also please themselves by showing they are strong enough to follow Gods plan.  

If your parish religious education program or Catholic school would like to host a presentation contact either Sean Martin (712-233-7516, seanm@scdiocese.org) or Karmen Bower (712-233-7532; karmenb@scdiocese.org).  They are flexible with each group’s schedule and will travel throughout the entire diocese.

“We will go anywhere in the diocese that invites us!  I have gone to schools, religious education programs and youth groups,” Bower said.


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