By Elena Castello
Over 130 students and adults sat in the St. Augustine Church student lounge, listening to the 29-year-old woman tell her story. With her degree in journalism, a beautiful gift for storytelling, and a passion to share her Catholic faith, Arleen Spenceley captivated the audience last night at the University of Florida’s Catholic Student Fellowship event. What was the topic of this talk? Living out chastity in a culture that says it isn’t possible.
The Fellowship of Catholic University Students’ on-campus missionaries partnered with CSF — a Catholic Gators program that holds events every Thursday — to bring Spenceley in to talk about her choice to live the virtue of chastity.
Since 2007, Spenceley has worked as a staffer for the Tampa Bay Times. She approached her editor one day to write an article called The Sex Essay which sparked comments within the first 30 minutes of its publication on the Internet. What inspired Spenceley to write about a virtue that our culture deems impossible-to-do started with a man she dated, who didn’t have the same values for chastity as she did.
“If this one man I dated didn’t understand the virtue of chastity, surely there are others who don’t either,” Spencely said. Since writing the article on her blog, Spenceley has gained a large following. Her book, Chastity is for Lovers: Single, Happy and (Still) a Virgin, published in November of last year, has sold over 1,000 copies. Spenceley has spoken all over the United States, giving her talk about going against the norm, and “practicing chastity in a culture that calls it crazy.”
Spenceley offers advice to those who want to practice chastity now, or are already doing so. She says surrounding oneself with like-minded people and having a close relationship with Jesus are two ways to be successful.
“It’s a beautiful witness to see in this world, going against the grain,” Chelsea Parza, a sophomore at UF said. “Her willingness to come and speak to us, and that so many people came is amazing. You don’t know whose lives were touched. And I liked that it was open to everyone at UF.”
FOCUS has been doing great work for Mission 10,000 — a campaign initiated to help bring Christ to students — and events like this have helped bring the Catholic Gators into the spotlight on campus. CSF has plans next year to invite even more nationally-recognized speakers and plan more events to bring Christ to the campus and the campus to Christ, as is the mission of the Catholic Gators.
You can subscribe to Spenceley’s blog here: http://www.arleenspenceley.com.
Elena is a freshman majoring in public relations at the University of Florida and is an active member of the Catholic Gators.