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Evert a success with students and parents

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Jason evert - the catholic weekly - chastity
Image credit: Patrick Lee

Notwithstanding some controversy, parents and school students alike say they were “enlightened” by US Catholic author and chastity speaker Jason Evert who kicked off his 2024 Sydney tour on 20 May.

More than 1000 Year 10 students from over 30 high schools across the Archdiocese of Sydney enjoyed Jason speak at the 10:10 Conference—a key event Sydney Catholic Schools’ consent education program—held at Good Samaritan Catholic College in Hinchinbrook. Later that night he spoke to about 600 parents who had registered to hear his talk titled ‘Parenting for life and love’.

The highly successful events came in the same week more than three schools in the Diocese of Broken Bay cancelled their scheduled visits from Evert after backlash from some parents and students who opposed what they claimed were outdated and sexist messages.

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Drawing from St John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, Evert spoke to students about the dangers of consuming pornographic material, the harmful reality of teenage sexual relationships and the risks these pose on the success of future marriages.

“I think everyone at this specific age, even if they aren’t Catholic, are affected by these temptations,” said Kenneth from St Anthony of Padua College, Austral.

“Every teenage boy suffers from issues like lust and girls similarly might have this perception that their modesty must go down the drain, but we need to hear about overcoming these issues in order to protect the gift of life,” said Alex Khoury from LaSalle College, Bankstown.

Sheku, also from LaSelle College, had attended Evert’s talk last December when the speaker was hosted by the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation’s inaugural Purpose Conference.

He said Evert’s message of chastity and dignity is one he continues to resonate with.

Jason Evert - The Catholic weekly - chastity
Image credit: Patrick Lee

“As teenage girls also, to see that there are teenage boys listening and willing to learn [from Evert] is really encouraging,” added Olivia Holt, a student leader at St Ursula’s Kingsgrove.

After jumping off a plane in Sydney at 5am for the all-day student conference, Jason was met positively at Canterbury Leagues club in the evening for his talk to parents.

Organised by the SCS’s Family Wellbeing and Education team, parents stayed for more than an hour afterwards seeking advice from Evert on how to combat toxic masculinity, engage their children in conversations about relationships and teach them values aligned with the Catholic faith.

“Sometimes as parents it can be awkward to have these discussions with our children when we feel we don’t have the right words,” said Theresa Neville, a mother with children in Years 5 and 8 at Catholic schools in Sydney.

“In this day and age we tend to doubt ourselves, but Jason’s given us a backbone as parents to reinforce the virtues of the faith.”

Father of three Chris Peters said it was an “eye-opener into what we can miss” when parents are too busy to align themselves with their children’s needs as they grow into the teenage years.

“As a person with their own business, it’s tough to find that family and work balance, but this has made me think twice about that,” Peters said.

Evert told The Catholic Weekly how important it is that parents hear positive messages about healthy modern relationships and the role of chastity as much as the students.

Jason Evert - The Catholic weekly - chastity
Image credit: Patrick Lee

“Parents are the primary sex educators. If we as a church are just telling the kids how to behave but we’re not forming the parents on how to have these conversations at home, we’re spinning our wheels,” he said.

“What I’m trying to do is marriage preparation when it should be happening—not six months before your wedding, but 10 years before your engagement.

“The kids today loved it. [It shows] these kids need to learn now what a healthy relationship looks like.”

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