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Evansville, Indiana
March 20, 1998     The Message
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March 20, 1998

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2 The Message for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana A Promise to Keep Memorial students serve as peer mentors in chastit00 Holy Spirit eighth graders Rochelle Serra and Angel Rhodes listen to a presen- tation given by Memorial High School students. _ -- Message photo by Mary Ann Hughes* By MARY ANN HUGHES Message staff writer Last Thursday, all eyes were on the vis- itors as they entered the eighth grade classroom at Holy Spirit School, Evans- ville. The visitors, four upperclassmen from Memorial High School, Evansville, had come to talk about their own decisions to stay chaste until marriage. They started by telling the eighth graders about themselves -- their sports activities, their extracurricular activities and then they told the students why they believe in chastity before marriage. One student cited the example of his own parents. The Memorial students are part of a Catholic Charities program "Promise To Keep" which trains high schoo! students to be peer mentors for middle school stu- dents. The pilot program is patterned on a similar program operating in the Arch- diocese of Indianapolis. The program is a "Catholic, values- based chastity program designed to accentuate the many reasons for being chaste" by using Scripture, factual infer- marion, and the personal convictions of peer mentors, according to Kristel Rif- fort, coordinator of parish and commu- nity services at Catholic Charities. To recruit peer mentors, Riffert went to Memorial High School, Evansville, and asked each teacher to submit a list of six students who would be good role mod- els. She wanted students who possessed "a good moral background," and she received 136 names of juniors and seniors. t's their personal conviction that makes the difference. They can share their personal convictions about being chaste, about staying chaste, and about saving sex for marriage. She sent letters to both the parents and the students, explaining the program, and inviting the students to apply if the)' were interested. Twenty-five students expressed inter- est in the program, and she interviewed each student individually. "I asked them specifically if they were sexually pure. I felt they were very honest with me." There are 12 boys and 12 girls now in the program. The commitment to chastity on the part of the high school students is essential to the success of the pro- gram. "They have to live up to the same standards. They can say, 'I have resisted the pressures to have sex and you can say no, too.' That's the whole key to the program. "It's their personal conviction that makes the difference. They can share their personal convictions about being chaste, about staying chaste, and about saving sex for marriage." Before the peer mentors visit middle schools, Riffert meets with the middle school parents. "We explain that this is not a sex ed, anatomy class. We don't want that misconception. It is a Catholic, values-based, character-building chasti- ty program, which accentuates all the reasons there are for being chaste." The middle school parents are told that the Promise to Keep program is "scrip- ture-based, and research-based," and offers middle school students important statistics regarding pregnancies and sex- ually-transmitted diseases. "We let parents know that we believe parents are the primary educators of their children. This program is to assist them in what they teach their children." It also complements what the students have already learned in health and reli- gion classes. During the first session, the teens remind the middle school students about the powerful influence of the media. "Our society bombards us telling us, 'If it feels good, just do it.' Music, movies, TV programs, covers of magazines, it's everywhere. This program is a counter- cultural program. We are saying just the opposite, that you don't just do it, that Washington students donate baby items to Life Choice DONUT When students from Wash- ington Catholic High School, Washington, returned from this year's March for Life, they were ready to take action, according to Chad Lueken, WCHS cam- pus minister. They shared their experiences with students at Washington Catholic Middle School, and then the students had a school- wide baby shower. The donat- ed items were presented to Life Choice, a teen maternity home in Evansville. "Lueken said, "I was thor- oughly impressed with what I saw at Life Choice. This place is answering God's call to act on our prayers. It made me proud to call my hool a 'pro-life' school. "Them were a lot of dona tions, and I think this is becau. pple want to put their money where their mouths are. You just have to give them the chance to do )." BANK00 Grace Arvin and Chad Lueken present baby items to Kim Stevens, director of Life Choice in Evansville. The items were collected by students at Washington Catholic High School, Wash- ington. Arvin is the coordinator of the Daviess and Martin Coun- ties "Peers Educating Peers" program and Lueken is campus min- ister at Washington Catholic High School. "Sol right on .... DE 2128 First Ave ............... 426-2311 5 N Green Rier Rd ............. 4794k11 I331 Dlammd Ave ......... 42641011 210 N. St. I('ph Ae ............ 42-If)11 1950 Vi'a:,htngton Ave .......... 477-2711 Men - Sat. 5 am-8 pro, Sun. 5 am-I pm C BAG ST. BENEDICT FISH Six FRIDAYS IN LE February 27; March 6, 13, 2 Your Choice: Icelandic cod (frledO! or whole catfish fiddler=' Plus two sides, drink and Homemade slaw, baked beans, For kids: Cheese pizza $1 Adults $5 per person * Serving 5 p.m. New School Cafeteria Memorial High School; Elpers is a peer mentor in To Keep program. -- Message photo t you save this specialgift! "In the first awareness with middle they are being get them The tive consequences teen parenthood ted diseases. The third training. "It's just sayiag, ing the offense by keep pressuring away." The middle school "so they learn how The Memorial Higl" are meeting with Holy Spirit and St. Evansville.