During visit to Diocese, chastity speaker Pam Stenzel urges youth to set boundaries
Story by Lois Rogers | Correspondent
Chastity speaker Pam Stenzel had students’ undivided attention as she discussed sex and its consequences outside of marriage.
“I can’t choose for you,” she said speaking on their personal decisions on intimacy. “What I can do is help you fully understand what’s going on.”
Stenzel, known for her frank discussions on the dangers of premarital sex and sexually transmitted diseases, visited six schools and parishes across the Diocese April 8-12. The third visit in as many years began in Brick’s St. Dominic School with students from St. Rose School, Belmar, and Rumson’s Holy Cross School.
Stenzel, and acclaimed author and abstinence educator, used her own life as an example of the emotional and physical repercussions of sexual activity. Telling how she was born after her mother was sexually assaulted, she said, “I don’t believe my life is worthless.”
On the contrary, she called her birth mom a hero. “If I ever get the chance to meet her, I will tell her how much I love her for giving me my life.”
Stenzel spent much of her time speaking on what “sex with no boundaries” can lead to.
“Remember, if you have sex outside of marriage, you will pay for it,” said Stenzel, who added that the cost varies. “Eighty percent of teen girls who choose to get pregnant will live in poverty. Nine out of 10 will never go to college. It is not a game. A baby is not a new puppy.”
“Boys, if you get a girl pregnant to whom you are not legally married, you will have no legal right” to have a role in the outcome, she said. “If the girl decides to keep the baby, you have a legal responsibility – birth certificates now require Social Security numbers” facilitating child support. “The costs will quickly mount up … your pay will be garnished. It can cost you for the rest of your life.”
Stenzel also shared statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that reflected the grim reality of how youth are susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases. She focused on the human papillomavirus, or HPV, as especially dangerous to girls who could suffer from cancer and sterility.
Stenzel asked the students to focus on the fact that while God created sex, “He also created a boundary: marriage. Either you are married or you are not.”
“The same is true for everyone,” she said. “It has nothing to do with age. If you are not married, don’t do it,” said Stenzel, who made it clear that she was giving the group the same advice with which she raised her own three children.
Reflecting on the presentation, Colleen Reilly, who brought eighth-grade students from St. Rose to Brick, said that though some of the information was “scary and surprising to them,” the feedback was positive. “All felt it was worthwhile that the eighth grades should attend,” she said.
Lori La Plante, pastoral associate in Holy Cross Parish, said the school’s youth were prepared for Stenzel’s talk, since the religious education students receive chastity education as part of their Confirmation preparation.
“Pam Stenzel’s talk is the last part of that program, and it made a powerful impression on them,” she said. “The 40 eighth-grade students we brought from Holy Cross School spent three weeks last month studying the Church’s teaching on sexuality. They were well-prepared to receive Pam’s talk and appreciated her straightforward presentation on the truth about sex and sexuality.”
During Stenzel’s visit to the Diocese – which also included St. Gregory the Great Parish, Hamilton Square; St. Joan of Arc School, Marlton; St. Aloysius Parish, Jackson; Trenton Catholic Academy, Hamilton, and St. John Vianney High School, Holmdel – the diocesan director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries was on hand to speak with students.
Dan Waddington, whose department co-sponsored Stenzel’s visit along with the Department of Evangelization and Family Life, said the presentations are about truth.
“God wants you to know the truth. Pam is here to challenge you,” he told students, informing them that the chastity advocate and Catholic convert shares her mission with upwards of half a million people a year, nationally and internationally.
Stenzel, founder of Enlighten Communications Inc., has a degree in psychology from Liberty University, Lynchburg, Va., and has served as a member of the National Abstinence Clearinghouse Advisory Board.[[In-content Ad]]