A Girl Named Nicole

Author: Mary Beth Bonacci

A Girl Named Nicole

by Mary Beth Bonacci

I just got back from a trip. A long trip. Five cities, 12 days. I spoke to over 8,000 people. It was great. Exhausting, but great.

I went to most of those cities because a group of parents or educators wanted me to come, so they collaborated and gathered money to bring me there. But one city was an exception to that rule. In that city, Boston, I went because one student wanted me to come. One student.

Last November, I spoke at an archdiocesan youth rally in Boston called "Radical Love in the 90s." The talk went very well, and the response from the audience was extremely positive. There was a girl named Nicole in the audience that day. Nicole decided that everyone at her school needed to hear the talk. She was particularly moved by the part of the talk where I pointed out that unmarried sex puts pressure on a relationship. She saw the results of that pressure played out every day , girls always crying, guys always mad, lockers slamming, icy glares, cold silences. As Nicole put it, "It's time to get the healing started."

Most people would stop at that. "Gee, it'd be nice to have her speak at our school. Oh, well." Not Nicole. She made an appointment with her principal. She told him what she had heard. She told him she wanted that message given to the entire student body. He said, "Go for it."

Notice he didn't say, "I'll do it for you." He gave her permission to arrange the event herself.

So Nicole got to work. She contacted the archdiocesan Office for Youth Ministry to find out how to bring me out, what the costs would be, and how to arrange it. She wrote memos to all of the faculty at her school. (This is my favorite part: the memo ended, "If you have any questions, please see me." She just about had to set up office hours at her locker.)

But bringing me to her school wasn't enough. Why bring the message to one school when you can bring it to several? Besides, then the cost could be split more ways. So she talked to her friends at other schools. They talked to their principals. They sent memos to their faculties. They arranged for assemblies , sometimes combining schools for multi-school events. The archdiocese scheduled an evening for parents. The schools and the archdiocese arranged to provide enough money to keep me there for two days. Nicole appeared on a local television show with the director of the youth ministry office to promote the events.

So I went to Boston. I spoke to eight schools in five assemblies. I addressed more than four thousand people in two days. I told them about God's amazing plan for the gift of sexuality. The response was extremely positive. The students loved the message of chastity. And best of all, I spoke to every single school shortly before their prom , probably preventing a lot of post-prom regret.

And it all happened because of a high school student named Nicole.

Am I telling you all of this so that you'll go out and get me to your school? Not necessarily, although that's not a half-bad idea. Every time I go somewhere to give a talk, it's because somebody put a lot of hard work into making it happen. This message isn't mine, it's God's, and the people who bring me out are as much a part of it as I am.

But I tell you the story of Nicole for a bigger reason. You can make a difference at your school, and in your world. Educators in particular are tired of students who act like lumps of inert flesh, just passively accepting whatever comes their way. Of course, those educators aren't too thrilled with immature students who want to change things by picketing for a longer lunch hour or staging sit-ins for homework reduction. But a student who sincerely wants to improve the physical, spiritual or emotional well-being of the student body and has a good plan for making that happen is often a welcome relief in a sea of student apathy.

Nicole took the time to make a difference at her school. I salute her for that. And I encourage the rest of you to try to do the same.

Bonacci is a frequent lecturer on chastity, and author of the recent book We're on a Mission From God (Ignatius Press).

Copyright (c) 1996 EWTN