CS&T Staff Writer

Do abstinence programs really work? That’s the topic that the Philadelphia Natural Family Planning Network, St. Mary’s Medical Center and the Philadelphia Catholic Medical Association’s sixth annual conference will tackle on Saturday, March 7, at Our Lady of Good Counsel’s Trinity Parish Center in South Hampton.

The conference organizers purposefully booked energetic and engaging speakers in their 20s and 30s because they want to reach out specifically to juniors and seniors in high school, college students and young adults, said Lester Ruppersberger, a physician and the president of the Philadelphia NFP Network.

As a gynecologist, Ruppersberger sees firsthand the devastating effects of sexually transmitted diseases in his young patients and the fear of crisis pregnancies stemming from a “hook up” (promiscous) culture, he said.

“In order to date and be popular and compete in the world of teens and twentysomethings they have to engage in sexual activities and they suffer for it,” he continued. “Looking at the hard reality of increased promiscuity and sexually transmitted diseases and what we perceive to be a lack of information about it and negative press that chastity education doesn’t work, we decided to put together a conference dealing with these topics,” he said.

In addition to addressing the concerns of young adults, the event is “a valuable conference for educators who are interested in learning how to implement a chastity program or parents who want to learn the language of how to talk to their children about chastity,” Ruppersberger said.

The conference features national speaker, writer and Catholic convert Dawn Eden who wrote the book “The Thrill of the Chaste.”

She will speak about her own conversion from a rock journalist immersed in the “sex, drugs and rock n’ roll” culture to a leading promoter of chastity.

The conference will also highlight local presenters including Judi McLane-Kneeld, the director of Generation Life, a nonprofit chastity and pro-life organization. McLane-Kneeld will speak about abstinence programs, their effectiveness, the difference between chastity and abstinence, as well as about her experience of working in high schools and colleges spreading the message of chastity. Other Generation Life presentations will focus on modesty, dating and courtship.

Mark Houck, director of the King’s Men, a local men’s leadership and outreach group, will speak about chivalry and what chastity and modesty mean from a male perspective.

The conference highlights resources and organizations working in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Pro-life doctors from the Catholic Medical Association well as on hand at the conference, as will be natural family planning instructors and exhibitors from participating organizations.

CS&T staff writer Nadia Maria Smith may be reached at or (215) 965-4614.

The Thrill of the Chaste Conference
Saturday, March 7
8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Our Lady of Good Counsel
Trinity Parish Center,
611 Knowles Ave.Southampton, PA 18966
$15 per person, $25 per couple or family, $10 per religious or student
For more information visit or call 215-885-8150.