by Kimberly Bowler
1. Fernando, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself? Where you grew up, where you went to college and what you studied, your job now, your age, and your role within Pure in Heart?
Sure! I grew up in the best town and state in the country - Morristown, New Jersey. I've lived in the Greater Boston area now for about 11 years and have only come to better appreciate the town and environment that provided the roots in both my faith and perspective on the world. It's a Catholic gem with five religious orders including Carmelite Sisters, perpetual adoration, and a Blessed- Blessed Miriam Theresa, who is presently interred in a local chapel.
I grew up in a Filipino family - where being Catholic was synonymous with being Filipino. My parents wanted me and my younger brothers to have a Catholic education and sacrificed a lot to ensure we had the opportunity. This led to my faith life being shaped at home and influenced by the Sisters of Charity and Benedictines. After high school, I shipped up to Boston and attended Boston University where I studied Health Science at Sargent College. I presently work full time as an Executive Recruiting Consultant. I've been a part of the PIH community for about six years and presently serve on the PIH National Core team. I'm certainly a blessed 29 year old, given the various opportunities God has presented to me and my life.
2. What first led you to start attending Pure in Heart meetings?
At BU we had a very active Catholic Center. The alumni who stuck around in the Boston area ended up going to Pure in Heart for fellowship with other Catholic young adults. It was through their invitations that I was first introduced.
3. Why do you think people seek out a community like Pure in Heart?
I think people seek out a community like PIH for the young adult community and stay because of the mission. Given the present state of where our culture is, where the person is more likely to be seen as an object versus gift, young adults are looking for something different and more life-giving.
4. Switching gears...what story, verse, or role model in your life has inspired you the most when it comes to living out a chaste lifestyle?
There are a lot of saints that have certainly inspired me to live a chaste life. Probably the most influential are St. Augustine, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, St. Joseph and of course Mama Mary.
4. You recently got back from the Theology of the Body Institute. How would you describe that experience, and if you could define "theology of the body" - how might you do that?
I would describe my experience as life-changing and eye opening. Christopher West was the most magnificent guide to lead us through the Theology of the Body. It helped me to see the world in the way that God intended for us to see the world - through love. The Theology of the Body is the study of God through the sacramental nature of man's body and his understanding of him/herself as a gift to the other. As St. John Paul the Great writes: “Man cannot fully find himself, except through a sincere gift of self."
5. Do you think "TOB" will have an increasingly important role in the Church, especially in the way we speak to the youth about sexuality? Why is this better than teaching abstinence?
I definitely think TOB will have an increasingly important role in the church. I believe it truly is the antidote towards the destructive nature that our culture has had on the human person and human heart. Theology of the Body provides the fullness of God's plan as His beloved sons and daughters, teaching us that every aspect and body part of ourselves is a gift. While abstinence-only education teaches no, TOB provides what is in store when we say "yes" to grow in the virtue of chastity.
6. Any parting words for those seeking to grow in authentic love and living a chaste lifestyle? What is the best way to maintain a chaste life?
Courage. We need courageous young men and women, who are not afraid to love others and themselves as God loves us as his beloved sons and daughters. The more we are able to continue to make ourselves as a gift, as Christ makes of Himself on the cross, the more our hearts will be purified to ultimately recognize God himself, in each other - for "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."