Committee endorses resources on sexuality
April 18, 2019
Beginning this fall, parents, parishes and schools hoping to share more deeply with children the Catholic Church’s rich understanding of human sexuality will have new avenues for guidance and support.
That’s when an ad-hoc Human Sexuality Formation (HSF) Committee formed by Archbishop George J. Lucas will begin promoting materials they have gathered and studied for more than a year.
Families are seeking help from the church, Archbishop Lucas said in a recent letter to pastors about the effort. And the archdiocese’s response includes piloting and implementing several programs for parishes and schools, in an effort led by HSF committee chairperson Kathie McGee, theology teacher and chair of V.J. and Angela Skutt Catholic High School’s theology department in Omaha.
The committee hopes to provide a more unified voice for efforts being made in the archdiocese, McGee said. And there is a desire to go back to the basics, she said.
Parents are their children’s first educators, McGee said. But some are wounded themselves by sexual sins of the past, others are concerned about a lack of medical or other expertise, and they want to know how best to address the issue with their children, she said.
"We need to start way back in the beginning," she said. "To the truth and beauty of human sexuality."
To learn more about programs already offered in parishes and schools, the archdiocese created an online survey in January 2016 asking people 18 and older how effective they were and what alternatives they might suggest, McGee said.
More than 900 people responded. Working from that survey, the committee of more than a dozen people – including archdiocesan staff, medical experts, parish leaders and school principals – met at least once a month beginning in April 2016 to explore the issue and come up with resources and plans, McGee said.
One initiative aimed primarily at parents and parishes will take place in November, with Coleen Kelly Mast, an author and lecturer on family life issues and host of EWTN radio network’s call-in advice program "Mast Appeal."
Mast will present workshops for parents and potential facilitators at yet-to-be determined sites in the Omaha area and outside of Omaha, McGee said. The workshops will center on family-based chastity education programs of five seminars Mast recently produced for parish and home settings, titled LoveED, McGee said.
Designed for parents with children ages 9 to 11 or 12 to 14, the programs encourage mother-and-daughter, father-and-son groups, McGee said. They include workbooks and videos, and "the feedback she (Mast) is getting is just awesome," McGee said.
Suggestions for schools also are being made, McGee said. If it is too late for offerings this fall, spring sessions and next school year could work, McGee said.
The committee will continue to meet at least through next year, and it invites feedback from parents, parishes and schools, she said. Other initiatives thus far include:
• A booklet will be available through the archdiocese’s Center for Family Life Formation titled "Our Power to Love: God’s Gift of Our Sexuality," published by Columbia, S.C.-based Family Honor Inc. Parishes or ministry groups could purchase the booklet and accompanying user guide for a nominal fee to share with couples in marriage preparation and parents at baptismal and other sacramental preparation programs.
• "Called to be More" and other curriculum offerings published by Ruah Woods Press of Cincinnati will be recommended for students in kindergarten through high school.
• A list of other reviewed programs for schools will be available, including "TeenStar" produced by the Natural Family Planning Center in Washington, D.C., and "YOU" published by Ascension Press.