New Castle News

January 17, 2014

Promoting purity: Local couple hopes teens get the message

David Burcham
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Sean and Anne Van Eman couldn’t imagine a better time for their baby to arrive than Jan. 22.

The due date for the couple’s second child will also mark the 41st anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling in which The Supreme Court legalized abortion.

The Van Emans are missionaries for the local chapter of People Concerned for the Unborn Child and they have delivered their “Why Wait?” chastity and sexual purity message to hundreds of teens throughout Lawrence and Mercer counties since 2011.

“Being a pro-life family, I think the timing (of their first daughter’s pending arrival) is very special and significant to us,” said Anne. “What a great statement it would be to bring a new life into the world on that day.” Their son, Jack, was born in May 2012.

Sean and Anne were taking in the Lawrence County Fair in 2010 when they stopped at the PCUC booth that was being tended to by Diane Marcella, chair of the local chapter. Marcella informed them that her organization was seeking missionaries to speak to preteens and teens on sexual purity.

The Van Emans had been working with young couples at their church, Mary Mother of Hope, and immediately felt a tugging at their hearts to get involved. “The message of chastity is really important to us,” Anne said.

“Fourth- and fifth-graders are exposed to sex daily in the media,” Anne said. “With what’s on TV and in movie theaters, you can’t escape it. Kids are on their phones and computers all the time so most have already heard it all.

“They are going to learn about birth control and contraception in school, and we want to give them a Christian perspective,” she said. “The bottom line is that sex is a gift from God and everyone is called to use that gift appropriately.”

Sean understands it may not be an easy message to deliver or receive, but it is vital.

“I was a typical teenager, one of six kids, raised in a strict Catholic family,” he said. “I was stubborn and bullheaded and sometimes had to learn from mistakes. So I know that some kids might not be receptive, but we want them to hear what we have to say and to think about it.”

Anne believes it helps that she and Sean are a young couple, not too far removed from high school and college years. “It makes us more approachable. We understand what today’s youth are experiencing regarding sexuality.”

Sean adds, “We come from a biblical perspective on right and wrong and what faith teaches about chastity and the importance of it.”

“Sometimes it’s always uncomfortable at the beginning for the group and for us,” Sean said. “But as our presentation goes on, there tends to be more interaction and questions.

“We want them to realize the consequences of having sex before marriage, perhaps bringing children into the world. But we also want them to understand that even for teens who have made a mistake that results in a baby, the child in the womb is completely innocent.”

Sean and Anne said parental involvement is essential. “Parents are always the primary educators,” Sean said.

“As new parents, this is really opening our eyes as to how we want to raise our children.”

You could say the pairing of Anne and Sean was a match made in heaven, albeit with an assist from Catholic Match, an online dating program.

Anne, 27 and a native of York, Pa., attended the University of Pittsburgh, where she minored in dance. Sean, 29, graduated from Neshannock High School and Slippery Rock University. He works for the Grove City School District as a special education teacher at George Jr. Republic.

“How we got together is a topic of our presentation,” said Anne, a former teacher at a charter school and a dance instructor in Sharon. “We were dissatisfied with our dating experiences, and wanted to build a relationship on the foundation of faith.”