Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Jan
  • 31

Keeping standards high

Posted By January 31, 2013 | 4:26 pm | Lead Story #2

By Tanya Connor

FITCHBURG – The results of a dream – of a “smokin’ hot high school boyfriend” – were among stories shared for Catholic Schools Week.
The week’s theme – “Raise the Standards” – was what Liz Cotrupi was getting at as she spoke Monday at St. Bernard’s Central Catholic High School, and that afternoon to students in grades six through eight at St. Bernard Elementary School. The 26-year-old who grew up at St. Joseph Parish in Charlton, and is now a national speaker/songwriter and Indiana youth minister, showed how the theme can be lived by telling how she did it. Students told The Catholic Free Press her talk was inspiring and they could relate to it.
Using the Catholic Schools Week graphic with bars of ascending heights, Ms. Cotrupi talked about standards: youth are told what they should do, be and wear. But she said the most important standard is the tallest one: “That’s the cross of Jesus Christ; it’s our Catholic identity.” It wasn’t until she got that one right that other things fell into place, she said.
Web-Lizzie   “I never dated in high school,” she said. “I was never kissed in high school.” And it wasn’t for lack of trying.
“You think there’s something wrong with you if you haven’t fallen in love in high school,” she said. She threw herself into academics and extra-curricular activities instead, but her scores didn’t meet her expectations, and she had an identity crisis, she said.

“Sometimes our life doesn’t work out the way that we plan,” she explained.  “Don’t run from those things that happen in your life,” such as suffering. “A lot of times that’s what God uses to save your life.
“No drinking before you’re 21. No sex before marriage. Rules, rules, rules. That’s why you don’t believe in God. …
“Who would know better than the Creator what your life should look like? … God is love. There is not a part of him that is not love. Why wouldn’t we trust him? …
“I went to God and I said, ‘I can’t get into Boston College, which is my dream. What do you want?’ … When you ask God a question, he answers,” though maybe not in the time or way one wants.
Ms. Cotrupi said she went to look at Providence College, and attended Mass there.
“I had this moment: I needed to be here; this was my next step,” she said.
When one finds Jesus, difficulties don’t disappear, she explained. Her freshman year of college she was surrounded by party-goers.
“I wasn’t partying,” she said. “I was trying to live out my faith.”
Once partiers woke her up at 2 a.m.; they didn’t know where a friend was. She heard a blood-curdling scream and found the student hanging upside down on a fence. The guy she’d been with had left her off in a bad section of Providence, she’d tried to scale the college’s fence and had gotten her shoelace caught.
Ms. Cotrupi said that’s the standard; that’s what being a happy college student – or high school student – is thought to be like. But when a fellow living this lifestyle wants to find a wife, a good mother for his children, he’s not around such women, and not ready for one, she said. People must raise the standards if they want everything else to fall into place, she said.
At one point, Ms. Cotrupi said, she wondered if Christianity was worth it. When she was singing at the back of a prayer service a priest told her, “You’re going to be in our Church band – tomorrow.”
“God sees things in you that you don’t see in yourself,” Ms. Cotrupi said. “I started singing and loving it. … In this band is this smokin’ hot dude. … Because I was in line with God, I started to see people the way that he sees people. He looked a lot like Jesus.”
To some laughter, Ms. Cotrupi told the boys that looking like Jesus is attractive.
“That’s a guy that’s going to put my good in this life and the next” first, she explained.
She said she didn’t speak of her attraction to Bob, who was discerning a priestly vocation.
But now, she said, after almost five years of dating him, being chaste for five years (it’s possible) “I’m going to marry this man in two months.” Listeners applauded.
She said she asked her future husband how he chose Providence College.
“When I visited, I just really felt like I should go to Mass,” he replied. “This is where God’s love wanted me to be,” he realized.
“This doesn’t just happen in my life,” Ms. Cotrupi told listeners. “Everything falls into place, and I want you to have that. You have to be willing to put in the work. … You have to do the work to stay in love. … You can’t not show up for those commitments. … That’s the secret to staying in love. …
“Ask your religion teacher questions. Don’t just say, ‘God, find me. Entertain me.’”
She talked about going to Mass even when priests aren’t exciting (love sometimes isn’t) and urged listeners to pray five minutes a day.
“Find your way, then do it,” she said.
She thanked God for the “beautiful, awesome teenagers” there and for his plans for them. She prayed for courage, joy and healing for them, and for renewed strength and zeal for the teachers and staff. She led them in the “Hail Mary,” received a standing ovation, and played a song she wrote about falling in love with God.
“The way she was talking with us was very real,” Noelle Ledoux, a junior, said afterwards. She said Ms. Cotrupi’s description of college life was true.
“The way she was talking, it … really got to you,” she said. “It really got to me.” She said the ice-breakers were fun, and she liked how Ms. Cotrupi closed with prayer.
“She’s not like …  ‘You have to do this, this, and this to be perfect,’” she said. “Not that you have to be like this, but you’ll find out in the long run it’s better … to live like that. Express yourself, but in a good way. You don’t have to go out and party, to be what society wants.”
Corey Kittredge, a freshman, said Ms. Cotrupi’s talk was something juniors and seniors could relate to better, but he could too.
“Especially from a non-Catholic point of view, you could still relate,” he said. When asked his religion, he said he was an atheist.
“I like how she can write songs and give us music,” he said; that helps teenagers pay attention.

 – For more information about Liz Cotrupi’s talks, concerts and CDs, see or e-mail her at