Catholic grads on the move
BY STEPHEN VINCENT
April 23-29, 2006 Issue | Posted 4/24/06 at 10:00 AM
hundreds of talks about chastity to
She hears “Yeah, right,” from a lot from adults. But many teens say to her: “How come nobody ever told me this before?”
“Some are virgins who are so excited to hear affirmation of their choice and reasons to maintain it,” Abruzzo says. “Others are kids who have made mistakes and realize that they want something better.”
A 1995 graduate of Franciscan
University of Steubenville in
“I never thought of myself as a public speaker,” she recalls. “I remember praying, ‘Dear God, please let it go well, and I will never do it again.’ The talk went well, and I actually had fun.”
She left her teaching job in 2002 to devote full time to talking to teens on chastity with her own speakers’ bureau, Love for Life, based in New York City (online at loveforlife.com). She has given presentations in Catholic schools, public schools, youth groups and retreats. Her message goes beyond religious faith or a catalogue of sexually transmitted diseases. Chastity, says Abruzzo, is a universal value that answers the deepest longings of the human heart.
“I created a sort of Top Ten reasons to save sex for marriage other than the usual ‘because you don’t want to get pregnant, get a disease, or go to hell,” she adds.
After three years of surviving on
donations and whatever schools or groups could pay her to talk, Abruzzo recently took a full-time job as director of The Narnia Clubs, which was founded in
Her experience at
Sign of Service
As the second child in a family of
17 children, Tom Henry learned at an early age about working hard for the
common good — and he has applied the lessons to a wider community as an adult.
After graduating in 1976 from the
Now he owns a full-service insurance business and a health-care consulting company in his hometown.
Over the years, he has remained close to the university, serving for five years as a trustee, rooting for St. Francis at football games and attending Sunday Mass in the small campus chapel. He and his wife, Cindy, have two grown children.
“My mother and father were both
devout Catholics who taught all of us to be involved in church and community,”
Henry says. “The
The small-school atmosphere changed the course of his life. “It was a comfortable learning environment,” he explains. “I was an average high school student, but excelled in college. The ratio of professors to students was lower than at the big state university I could have gone to. There were 25 to 30 students per class. And I found caring individuals and professors who were dedicated to working in a Catholic environment.”
Henry adds: “The one thing that I
took away from the
is well known in home-schooling circles as the developer of the Mother of
Divine Grace curriculum and author of the book Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum (Ignatius Press). She
traces the inspiration for all her home-school activities, as well as the
direction of her life, to a summer day in 1971 when her parents brought her to
Ronald McArthur and John Neumayr invited Berquist, who had
just graduated high school in
“I loved the program at Thomas Aquinas in every way,” she says, “and I respected and esteemed the people, both the tutors and the students. I learned that liberal education, sometimes called classical education, is the education of the free man; the word liberal comes from the Latin liberare, to free. This education was once the patrimony of all educated men, and formed Western civilization at its best.”
She not only got a quality
education, but she also met her future husband, Mark, who was a tutor at the
college. “We both loved philosophy and fell in love with each other talking
about Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas,” she remembers. They married in 1976, a
year after she was in the college’s first graduating class, and have six
children, ages 29 to 17. Four have graduated from Thomas Aquinas, one is a
student there and the youngest will begin studies in
Her experience of home schooling all her children was the basis of her published curriculum. “For 10 years I looked for a curriculum that would give a big return on a small investment of time, and that would fit into the natural stages of learning I observed in my children,” she says. “So I worked on that, mostly by trying out various curricula on my children. At the end of 10 years, when I had found something that worked, my mother and some friends urged me to publish the results.”
Her mother, Donna Steichen, is author of Ungodly Rage: The Hidden Face of Catholic Feminism, also published by Ignatius Press.
Berquist started Mother of Divine Grace in 1975 “with 35 brave families, in large measure because of the number of people who called me after reading Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum.” Now 980 families and a total of 2,800 students use the program.
Home-schooling, she says, “gives one an opportunity to live in a Catholic culture at home, and to pass on the faith, the most important gift we have.”
Stephen Vincent writes from
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