I have a vinyl wall art piece in my house that says, “In a world where you can be anything, BE YOURSELF!” For many people in this world it is a lost truth because they neither know who they are or what they are created for. For twelve years I have had the privilege of speaking to teenagers, especially young women! In that time, I have learned so much about what makes their hearts break, what makes them come alive, what destroys their confidence and dignity and what protects and repairs their inherent desire to feel whole. I have heard stories that would make your stomach turn and others that would bring a smile to your face!
For the past three years, I have been the virtue speaker for a program called “Pure Fashion.” It was an amazing opportunity to be a part of the program and to build relationships with the young women involved and their parents. Those girls showed me that it is possible to live a life of virtue in high school and to do it all the while being comfortable in their own skin. But, I became increasingly aware that the girls being able to engage in authentic friendships with other like-minded teens and to have regular faith formation were the keys to helping them survive a culture that seeks every opportunity to scandalize, tempt, and scrutinize them.
It was unlike me to commit to being a part of an ongoing program since as a speaker I usually show up somewhere for a few hours and leave and I usually don’t have the opportunity to really build relationships. The reason why I decided to commit regularly to this program was that I saw how life changing it was for the girls and quite frankly, I wanted my little girl, Ella, to have something like it when she grows up!
Pure Fashion in Phoenix ended last year when the amazing and dedicated leader took a much needed break to attend to her family’s needs. This saddened many of the girls and parents who had been so involved. Parents and teens have approached me throughout the year asking if I would start a program.
With much prayer and discernment, I have decided to create my own four year program called Vera Bella (meaning “true beauty” in Latin). It is a Catholic formation and fellowship program for 8th through 12th grade girls (between the ages of 13-18) designed to help them discover the meaning of what makes them truly beautiful. So many teens believe that beauty is just the face they see in a mirror, the weight they read on a scale, or the image they see in a popular magazine. But, true beauty comes from the inside out and seeks to be a light in the darkness. Vera Bella’s mission is to reveal that authentic femininity is built on truth, beauty, goodness, and holiness and is accomplished through making a life-long habit of virtue. My hope and reason for committing to design a new program is to strengthen girls in their knowledge of their faith and what it means to be women of Christ and to help them develop and foster a beautiful relationship with God, their Creator. In addition, I want to empower girls to be faith-filled, fearless, bold, honest, pure and solid leaders who will make a difference in this world!
The program will begin for girls in Arizona in the Fall of 2013! Topics included in the Vera Bella Program are Theology of the Body, Femininity, Fashion, Chastity, Modesty, Charity, Love, Relationships, Truth, Physical Safety, Confidence, Speaking Skills, Beauty, Art, Life Issues, Forgiveness, Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, Temperance, Holiness, Humility and more!
My hope is to create a Catholic curriculum for others to be able to begin programs in their own areas. I plan on releasing the curriculum after the first year is complete.
Without even really announcing the program yet, I have already had several girls register! All the details have fallen into place so easily that I can’t help but be assured that this is truly the Lord’s will and He is working everything out to make it a successful program. The program will consist of college mentors and a team of adults. I will not only be speaking to the girls and planning the formation sessions, but I will also be mentoring the well-formed college students and adult leaders helping them in their speaking and leadership skills. I’m excited to create the content because it will be based on Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the exciting lives of the Saints, and the Theology of the Body. I’m not recreating the wheel, I am just putting the beautiful truths of the faith into a format that is teen-friendly!
Please view the website for more details at www.VeraBella.org and feel free to share the website and details with girls who may be interested!
Also, please pray for me in this new venture! Although it is only a once a month meeting in addition to a team meeting and developing the content, I am a wife, mother, daughter, friend, and national speaker! The good news is I have always been able to manage, balance, and keep my priorities straight. Since I was in high school, I have prayed regularly that the Lord would stretch my time! Strange request, I know, but I have always been quite busy. Once I started doing that, I rarely ever feel overwhelmed and feel like there is an abundant amount of time to get things done while maintaining a great family life.
Please click on and read the letter of support below that a few wonderful leaders in our Phoenix Diocese have given me!