Sixteen middle school students at Our Lady of the Lake School, Ashland, ended a course on the Theology of the Body with a commitment ceremony at school Mass, during which they publicly pledged their commitment to living out the virtue of chastity. A white candle symbolized purity. (Submitted photo)

Jenny Snarski
Catholic Herald staff

In May, seventh- and eighth-grade students of Our Lady of the Lake School in Ashland completed their Theology of the Body class. The curriculum was taught by Anna Richardson, director of religious education, and Tim Mika, a volunteer catechist who is also a trained presenter on the topic.
In recent years, the subject matter has become mandatory in the diocesan Catholic school curriculum; it is seen as crucial to understanding the human person and its significant impact on youths’ understanding of themselves and sexuality.

As part of the regular religion class, 16 sessions were presented for Our Lady of the Lake students. DRE Anna Richardson said, “What amazed me the most was how many questions the students were asking, especially when we got deeper into the chapters on love and chastity. It’s very evident how strong of an influence the culture is on our children and youth. Some of the hot topic issues that we discussed (like gay marriage, transgenderism, etc.) were received with some hesitation at first.

“The youth asked questions that were very clearly scripted from what they see in the news and on social media. We dove headfirst into their questions and even their doubts and oppositions to the teachings on these topics.

“In the end, they had a much clearer understanding of what the Catholic Church actually believes. They were a bit surprised to hear such a message of freedom, not oppression.

“As Bishop Fulton Sheen says, ‘There are not more than 100 people in the world who truly hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they perceive to be the Catholic Church.’ It is so important to teach the rich truth of our Catholic faith, especially on these intimidating topics.