A passion for youth and chastity

By  Anna-Therese Pierlot, Youth Speak News
  • December 12, 2008
{mosimage}CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Life is full of decisions and questions about issues like faith, love, sex and human dignity. Dr. Coleen Kelly Mast saw the need for youth to have the answers to these important questions and she took up the challenge.

Mast, wife and mother of five, works as a call-in talk show host for a Catholic broadcasting station called Ave Maria radio. She has written two chastity education programs, available internationally, called Love &Life and Sex Respect, which include videos, books and training seminars. She has been a guest on Oprah, Mother Angelica Live, 60 Minutes and Geraldo, and leads conferences across North America — most recently a women’s conference on hope and the culture of death in Charlottetown.

But Mast’s long list of accomplishments began when she was teaching high school students in Illinois. Mast said that she was surprised by how many students didn’t know the beauty of love and sexuality.

“When I realized how confused and lost the students were I set out on a path to help by finding all the true information I could,” said Mast.

She said she realized that they just needed to have access to the truth. She began tutoring pregnant girls after school because they were too embarrassed to show up during the day. Mast got her masters degree in health education and brought her knowledge to the classroom. Tossing out many of the school’s texts, she used papal encyclicals including Humanae Vitae and Familiaris Consortio to teach the truth about love and sex in her Family Life courses. The students responded so well to her honest, enthusiastic approach, other teachers wondered what her secret was.

“I simply teach them the truth,” she would say.

The archdiocese of Chicago soon noticed her unique course content, and she was invited to speak at a local conference.

“It was exciting in a way,” said Mast, “but I was merely a willing servant who used the holy boldness that came with the sacrament of Confirmation, and offered to God the use of my master’s degree in health education.”

The most rewarding fruit of her mission was in hearing about how she touched lives, especially the youth. One day, while still a teacher, Mast privately asked one of her students, a young pregnant woman, if she ever felt embarrassed about coming to the Sex Respect class in her pregnant condition.

On the contrary, the girl responded that since taking the course she was finally beginning to see the true meaning of sexuality and was now open to the life growing inside of her. She was grateful to Mast for her honest teaching and only wished she had taken her course earlier.

Mast quit teaching high school as her Sex Respect books grew in popularity.

“I believed that it was God’s will for me to concentrate on training teachers so that my efforts to teach abstinence would be duplicated nationwide,” she said.

After studying documents with the Pontifical Council for the Family in Rome, she began offering mother-daughter talks and parents-only conferences, along with the youth conventions, to highlight the role parents play in their children’s upbringing.

Mast’s books are available online at www.sexrespect.com.

(Pierlot, 17, is in Grade 12 at Morell Regional High School in Morell, P.E.I.)

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