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CONCORD — He jokes and tells stories rife with sound effects, but Catholic chastity speaker Jason Evert is no stand-up comedian. His adolescent audience may enjoy his presentation, but they also walk away with a serious message about the virtue of chastity.
Evert, who has a master’s degree in theology and has authored four books, traveled the archdiocese making presentations to at least three different parishes and schools each day from Dec. 4 to Dec. 8.
His seminar, entitled “Romance Without Regret,”was sponsored by the archdiocesan Respect for Life Program. At Holy Family Parish in Concord Dec. 4 Evert threw a dizzying amount of information at the audience, weaving in and out of topics and speaking plainly about the physical, emotional and spiritual effects of premarital sex.
He told his audience that girls should have dignity, dress modestly and demand respect from young men. Boys, for their part, should respect young women, and understand that real love means not pressuring a girl to risk getting sexually transmitted diseases, or pregnant before she is married.
He also told the teens not to buy into the lie our culture feeds them that teenagers have no self control.
But the “biggest lie”our culture tells teenagers is that “safe sex”exists, he said. One recent television commercial for herpes medication depicts people kayaking and running through fields while delivering the message, “Herpes doesn’t slow me down.”But herpes, a viral disease, is incurable and affects 20 percent of Massachusetts residents.
The most common sexually transmitted disease is the human papilloma virus or HPV, which effects 70 percent of sexually active girls, and is the leading cause of cervical cancer. Condoms do not prevent the spread of the disease.
At the same time, Evert urged the teenagers not to label their promiscuous peers. Early sexual activity is usually a sign of underlying emotional or family problems.
“Take the labels off. Give everyone the opportunity to start over,”he said.
Evert, now in his late 20s, also tells his own story. He was a virgin when he married, remarking, “You couldn’t pay me a million bucks to do it any other way.”
His wife, Crystalina, made the mistake of having sex when she was a teenager, but heard a chastity speaker and decided to commit the rest of her life to chastity. She often accompanies Jason, and they present together.
Evert ended his talk with a story about a father who dug through the rubble of his son’s school for 38 hours after an earthquake in an effort to save the boy’s life. People told him to give up, but ultimately he found his son and saved the lives of several other children as well. In the same way, God is always fighting for us, Evert said.
Even when His children make mistakes, He always wants them to seek His forgiveness, he added.
“All He says to you is, ‘Welcome home,’”Evert concluded.
Philip and Katie Green, Holy Family parishioners who attended the talk with their two daughters felt that Evert related well with the teenagers.
Young adults need to hear about chastity and are not getting that message in public schools, said Katie.
“This will make it easier for them to make good decisions for themselves,”she added.
Holy Family’s youth ministry coordinator and director of confirmation, Helen Cushman, said that she was very pleased with Evert’s direct approach.
Although Evert has not spoken there before, the parish has sponsored other chastity speakers each year through its confirmation program, she added.
“Kids really need to hear from people who have been out there,”she said. “It’s important that they hear it from someone like Jason who is young, cool and understands.”
Evert is scheduled to return to the archdiocese for another week of talks in March.