Is Chastity A Real Option?
Conor Deane speaks with Hannah from Pure In Heart’s Mission Team about promoting chastity among young people and how they encourage second level students to spare themselves a world of unnecessary hurt by limiting the levels of physical contact in a relationship until marriage.
In a challenging world of confusing messages where promoting sexual activity amongst youngsters as a normal response to emotions, Pure In Heart have instead taken on the tough mission to promote pure love using chastity as a positive and not a negative means towards remaining young, free and happy.
In this interview Conor Deane talks with members of the mission team who have unreservedly and without apology committed to the promotion of this message across the country. They go into schools by invitation and give day long retreats.
Pure In Heart take St. Maria Gorretti as their patron saint and take special comfort in Psalm 139.
About Pure In Heart (Taken from their website: www.pureinheartireland.com)
In the mid 1990’s a group of young people gathered for a weekly prayer meeting. They were answering the call of Our Lady of Medjugorje. The prayer meeting had started a few years before, after a Dublin priest, the groups spiritual director had returned from a pilgrimage to Medjugorje. He’d wanted to start a youth prayer meeting, but at the time, he did not know any young people interested in doing so. Then one day a young man approached him wanting to start a prayer meeting. It was an answer to this priests prayers.
The prayer meeting began and usually lasted between an hour or two with time to socialise afterwards. A chat with a cup of tea was a great way of getting to know everyone after praying together. Ireland at this time was in a transitional period of economic growth. It was in fact, the infancy of the ‘Celtic Tiger’ as it became known and Ireland was attracting many companies and employers from overseas. With the result jobs were cropping up all around the country. Very different from the Ireland of the late 1970 early 80’s when unemployment and emigration was rampant, either or both of these affected many of the countries young people. So the 1990’s brought this new air of change which was refreshing for everyone in the country. Dublin city began to get a fresh new look. Many old derelict buildings got demolished to make way for new ones. As a result of this progress, the building that housed the prayer meeting was sold and another venue was sought.
After some searching, the Capuchins on Church Street, in Dublin city centre generously gave the group the use of their Church for the weekly prayer meeting. Unfortunately after a number of weeks this venue had to be changed. Its location was not in the safest part of the city at that time. It was decided to move the meeting to the groups spiritual directors Church, University Church, which was located on St. Stephens Green, in Dublin. As a result of this move, there were no facilities for the social cup of tea after praying together. But at least the members would be safer attending this Church. The priest noticed that almost every week new young people were coming. The change of location was very fruitful. After a number of months the group moved into the side chapel within the Church. The reason was to unite the group, because before this the young adults had been spread throughout the Church.
During the intercessory prayers each week the priest began to notice that two sisters were praying for Purity amongst the youth of Ireland, especially their own and their friends purity. In the early 1990’s a so-called sexual revolution took place in Ireland and contraception was legalised in Ireland. A great change had occurred in the sexual behaviour of many people. The youth of Ireland seemed to be influenced by the movies, TV, magazines, books and music they watched, read and listened to. So, the misuse of their sexuality was becoming a common thing and soon it became problematic. Many teenage girls throughout the country were abandoned to raise their babies alone, as the young fathers walked away from their responsibilities. The priest thought that the prayers from these young women for Purity were beautiful. They really struck him and moved him deeply.
As the Jubilee year approached the group began to plan a pilgrimage to Rome for world youth day, in the summer of the year 2000. World Youth Day was a gathering of young people that Pope John Paul II had started in the 1980’s. The group was made up of many students at this point, so they decided to fundraise money to pay for the pilgrimage. They organised a fundraising night but there was a very small turn out. They feared that to raise enough money for the young people, many more fundraising nights would be needed. However, during this night the priest was handed an envelope with a donation inside. He placed it in his jacket pocket and only opened the envelope when he got home. To his amazement he found a cheque for £5000. To his amazement, it was the exact amount of money needed after the night of fundraising, he thanked God for this astonishing gift. Now all the young people could go to Rome and no one would be disappointed.
So in the summer of the year 2000, the group set off on Pilgrimage to Rome for World Youth Day. One afternoon under the very hot Roman sun the group found a patch of grass to sit and have lunch. Over lunch they chatted about many things, and the priest challenged the group to do something pro-active about purity amongst the youth of Ireland. He said that the prayers for Purity were a good thing but it would be better if the group could do something more. This conversation was the beginning of pure in heart.
In the coming months a small number of the young adults began praying especially for this new mission. After months two girls, Ann Wright and Edel Reynolds decided that they would give talks in schools and parishes. They both took a year out from their studies to do this work, and off they set on an adventure with God. That fist year was a tough year with many challenges, but thanks to the grace of God the group continued to grow. After some months the girls decided they needed an office, as their year began to get busier. More schools where calling to get pure in heart in to talk to students about chastity and relationships. Eventually we rented an office in ‘Emmanuel House’, in Dublin. It is a house of prayer owned by a Charismatic Community. The girls also had the use of the kitchen for lunch and oratory to pray. After some time the group started to meet on a separate night from the original Medjugorje prayer group. This was the beginning of the pure in heart prayer meeting, and it is still held in the same place eleven years later.
Since its foundation in Emmanuel House pure in heart has grown over the years with many young adults passing through our doors. Many have found their vocations, to both religious and married life in an atmosphere of prayer, friendship and love. Christ is the centre of our mission, all we do is by His grace and blessings.
Today pure in heart still meet every Thursday in 23 Merrion Square at 7.30pm. Fr. Eunan McDonnell, a Salesian priest is the current Spiritual Director. Pure in heart has a board of directors as we are registerd charity, plus a core group of six, comprised of five members of the group and the spiritual director. They look after the day to day running of pure in heart. We pray that the mission of pure in heart continues to grow and spreads to more areas of Ireland and indeed the World.
*NB: Broadcasters this interview is somewhat longer than is normal. It is 9:13.
In “A typical day…”
Out “…it’s a lovely prayer.”