Parent-child programs to teach purity
By Nissa LaPoint
All programs below are held at Bonfils Hall, 1305 S. Monroe St., Denver
Cost: $20 per family per program
Mothers & Daughters
Fathers & Sons
Today’s teenagers are bombarded with influences compromising their purity and sense of modesty. Whether it’s social media, texting, peer pressure or the Internet, sexual content is easily presented to teens.
“It enters the home even though parents are really careful about what kids are watching on TV,” said Celeste Thomas, a lay consecrated virgin, who has led purity programs for teenagers since 1988.
Due to an ongoing demand, Thomas is bringing a series of mother-daughter and father-son purity programs back to Denver this year to inform teens about the truth of their sexuality and an understanding of true love.
The half-day talks are tailored for girls from 9 to 12 years old and from 13 to 16 years old. Thomas will hold a program in February for each age group with Kathleen Fleming, a mother of six children who works for the Couple to Couple League teaching natural family planning, and Madeleine Paolucci, a mother of eight.
The speakers will address changes in the female body, proper nutrition and hygiene as well as modesty, use of social media and dating for the older teenagers.
Thomas will conclude each program with a one-hour presentation on purity and living a virtuous life, she said. She also shares the life story of St. Maria Goretti, an 11-year-old martyr who fought an attempted rape and was subsequently stabbed to death.
“This is a presentation about virtue and that God created bodies differently,” Thomas said. “I bring it from a very realistic perspective.”
Thomas said she makes the presentations engaging and fun and that many parents and teens—although at first unwilling to attend—are thankful for the program.
“This is just a springboard,” Thomas said. “It’s a great way to open up a discussion with a child that may be less likely to ask a question or initiate a conversation.”
The program was helpful for Traci Boh of St. Mary Parish in Littleton and her 14-year-old daughter, Jenna, Boh said.
“I’ll probably take my daughter again this spring because it’s an ongoing battle,” Boh said about teaching purity. “I think it’s helpful to have someone else talk to your kids saying things you’re saying but in different way.”
Statistically, the number of sexually active teens has been on a steady decline since 1991, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Yet the pervasiveness of pornography is a constant threat to purity for growing boys, Thomas said.
She will host a program for boys between 10 and 14 years old this March. Jerry Fleming, Kathleen Fleming’s husband, will talk about bodily changes during puberty and the meaning of true love, she said. Seminarians will also attend as guest speakers, she said.
“So many burdens in our world are related to the misuse and abuse (of sexuality),” Thomas said. Her programs seek to enlighten youths how “to be free and to be holy as a male or female in the image of God.”
“This is just an attempt to (present) the truth,” she said.