Seminars to help parents provide human sexuality formation

Answers that are simple, true … and point to the sacred.

That’s an avenue parents can take as they reply to questions from their pre-teen children about human sexuality, says Coleen Kelly Mast, an author and lecturer on family life issues and host of EWTN radio network’s call-in advice program "Mast Appeal."

Questions about homosexuality, pregnancies outside of marriage and other issues – many of them surprisingly pointed and difficult from children so young – can be daunting to answer, but age-appropriate advice based on solid truths and church teaching can help, Mast said.

God wants marriage reserved for men and women, and children raised by married couples, Mast said. Children can readily understand that other arrangements are not part of God’s plan, and that "we’re supposed to be doing what God wants," she said.

"There are twisted lies (out there), and we need simple truths and positive, faith-filled teachings so our kids can see the lies for what they are," she said.

Parents can hear more advice – free from Mast, in person – Nov. 2 in Omaha and Nov. 5 in Norfolk, in two-hour seminars sponsored by the archdiocese’s Center for Family Life Formation and organized with the help of an ad-hoc committee on human sexuality formation formed by Archbishop George J. Lucas.

Designed to introduce Mast’s five-session LoveEd program, the seminars spring from the archbishop’s desire to provide a more unified voice in the archdiocese regarding formation in human sexuality, said Kathie McGee, committee chairperson.

The committee was formed to study a January 2016 online survey of parishioners about current parish and school programs, look at other initiatives offered around the country and come up with a game plan, said McGee, a theology teacher and chair of the theology department at V.J. and Angela Skutt Catholic High School in Omaha.

Concentrating first on parishes and families, the archdiocese is backing the LoveEd chastity program Mast recently developed. Designed for parents with children ages 9 to 11 or 12 to 14, the materials encourage mother-and-daughter, father-and-son groups and include workbooks and videos, McGee said. Parents can use the materials at home and parishes can offer them in large group settings.

"I’m hoping parents will feel excited and maybe even relieved that there is something out there for them," McGee said. "I hope that we kind of light a fire."

In addition to the parent seminars, Mast will meet with priests for two hours Nov. 3 at the Archdiocesan Retreat and Conference Center in Omaha, and offer training for potential parish facilitators of the program from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 4 at Metropolitan Community College’s campus in Elkhorn.

One goal is having four or five pastors try the LoveEd program in their parishes, and then encourage its expansion across the archdiocese, McGee said. "We hope this will grow into a groundswell," she said.

Mast said she is looking forward to the gatherings.

"We want so many parents to be there," she said. "We want priests and facilitators."

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