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Youth Rally SLIDESHOW:

Diocesan youth hear chastity message at rally

By KATIE LEFEBVRE, Globe staff reporter
(Email Katie)


FORT DODGE – If high schoolers of the Diocese of Sioux City didn’t leave the Youth Rally on Sept. 28 with chastity and being Catholic on their minds, it wouldn’t be Jason Evert’s fault.

A male volunteer, Luke Matthews of Denison, made his way to the Fort Dodge St. Edmond stage not knowing he would be putting on a blond wig and acting as a girl on a “date” with Evert, the keynote speaker.

“Luke and I are going to show you how far is too far to go on a date,” said Evert, who picked Matthews up over his shoulder. “How far can we go to the edge? Should I drop him? The point of this is no guy is going to go on a date with a girl thinking, ‘How far can I go before I kill her?’”

Chastity

Guys ask Evert, “How far can I go with a girl?” He said relationships can get physical fast.

“I know some of you are virgins and some of you are not. Frankly, I don’t care about what has happened in the past,” said the speaker, who brought out a book considered to be the most comprehensive sex research ever done. “What they found is people who get married as virgins have a divorce rate about 70 percent lower than those who don’t wait for marriage.”

He posed the question, “If you hope to get married, are you willing to love the person before you meet them?”

Evert set standards of what a couple should not do before they get married. He used his own marriage as an example.

“You do not live together before you get married,” said Evert, who added a lot of couples think they need to live together before marriage to see if they are compatible. “If you are a guy and she’s a girl, you are not compatible.”

The second was not to sleep together before marriage and the third was not to use birth control.

“Fertility is a gift. It is not a disease,” said Evert. “Safe sex is a joke. You are worth waiting for. Purity is gift. Go get pure. Go to confession. Never leave Mass. Get a rosary and pray it every day.”

The speaker also addressed pornography, sexually transmitted diseases and dressing modestly. He told stories from his life and others he has encountered to present his points.

Evert provided rosaries, CDs and books for the high school students at no cost following the presentation. His second keynote address focused on what is great about being Catholic.

Bringing young people together

The theme for the day was “Go, I send you, lead with joy,” which comes from Pope Francis’ document, Joy of the Gospel.

“I think it went very well,” said Sean Martin, diocesan director of new evangelization, catechesis and family life. “The outpouring of how many people have come, nearly 500 people, and the excitement is tremendous. It has been a blessing.”

Martin thought it was important for the youth “to see other Catholics their age who want to practice their faith and who believe the same things. For fellowship purposes, it is important for them to know they are not alone in their faith.”

Martin had three challenges for the youth at the start of the rally – have a living encounter with Jesus Christ and his church, live the message of the new evangelization and spread the Gospel with joy.

“It was a packed house and I know that everyone present was positively impacted by Jason’s message,” said Linsey Hoard, assistant director of youth catechesis and evangelization. “Jason was constantly affirming the fact that Jesus is always offering forgiveness for all of us when we give in to temptation.”

Throughout the day, The Thirsting provided music for the rally and performed a concert in the afternoon. The Thirsting is a Catholic alternative rock band from Portland, Ore., that was founded in 2006 under the direction of band leader, Daniel Oberreuter. 

Celebrating the Eucharist

Bishop Walker Nickless celebrated Mass with the high schoolers to start off the day. Deacon Rick Salocker assisted with Mass along with four diocesan seminarians – Jacob Begnoche, Matt Brady, Travis Crotty and Walter Pugh, who are all attending Conception Seminary.

During his homily, the bishop called three students to the front and asked them about why they are Catholic and the best and hardest aspects of being a Catholic.

“I look forward to this (the rally) every year,” said Bishop Nickless. “I thank you for giving up your Sunday to be here, but when you think about, it that’s what Sundays are for – the Lord. Today you are giving yourself to the Lord by celebrating the Eucharist, the most important thing you can do today or any day.”

He told the youth he is proud of them because “you make up the future of the church and the presence of the church right now. God wants your best efforts. He wants you to make a difference in this world.”

At the conclusion of Mass, the four seminarians shared what was difficult about making the decision to go to seminary and once they were there what made the difference. The seminarians were available throughout the day to answer any vocation questions.

Getting closer to God

Bancroft St. John freshman Samantha Hagedorn wanted to become closer to God and learn more from Jason Evert, so she decided to attend the rally.

“He said to wait for the right person and don’t do stupid stuff,” she said. “You know the right one who will love you when he will tell your dad and not be afraid. If they really love you, they will wait until after you are married.”

Phillip Grothus, a youth leader at St. Malachy’s in Madrid, came with a group of about 21 from Madrid, Ogden St. John and Boone Sacred Heart.

He said the youth rally is a good time for the youth “to bond with other people their age dealing with the same issues. When they hear a message in a different light, like Jason Evert, they get more out of it than hearing it from their parents, teachers or youth group leaders.”

Rafferty Naughton, a senior at St. Edmond in Fort Dodge, wanted to hear Jason Evert’s message.

“You have to wait for sex,” he said. “You can’t just go around and do whatever you want. Chastity is really important for a marriage.”

Marcus Johnson, a senior from St. Malachy in Madrid, said Evert’s talk “opened my eyes up to marriage and all the essential things that go along with marriage. It made me look at it in a different way. I’m really glad that I came.”

“It feels reassuring to see everyone your age here for the same reason,” he said. “We are all here to get the same message and hopefully better our generation.”

The rally concluded with adoration and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and confession.

“The fact that we were able to offer the teens confession after hearing Jason’s message meant so much,” said Hoard, who wanted to thank the priests who were available for confession. “The fact that these men were willing to volunteer their time hearing confessions, after a busy weekend, is just another example of the heroic virtue of the priesthood and the sacrifices our diocesan priests are willing to make for our teens.”

Find out more about Evert and The Chastity Project at www.chastityproject.com.

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