A discovery of some of the teaching of St John Paul II has had a powerful effect on the life of Auckland woman Maria Pais.

Maria Pais
Maria Pais

Mrs Pais told NZ Catholic that four or five years ago a girlfriend invited her to a lecture by American author and the founder of the Chastity Project, Jason Evert.
Mr Evert was explaining St John Paul II’s teaching known as Theology of the Body.
“And all I thought was, I want my teens to hear this. It’s so important.”
Mrs Pais, who is a parishioner at Christ the King Church in Owairaka, talked to her parish priest about a programme about Theology of the Body. “His words were, go for it.”
The parish has run programmes since 2012-2013, starting with one for teenagers, she said.
“After the teen programme was so successful, we ran the adult programme.”
Mrs Pais said she had run three evening programmes for teenagers, each one lasting three to six months.
People might think they wouldn’t commit that young, she said, but when they hear something that teaches them about their dignity and value, they keep coming back.
She had also been involved in four young adult programmes, for those aged from about 18 up to about 35.
Much of the presentation features Christopher West, on DVD. “He is so much fun. And he’s got a sense of humour and is not scared to say what people are thinking.”
The adult programme refers to people’s lived experience.
“The most beautiful thing is there is no condemnation,” Mrs Pais said. “It’s really a programme which uplifts, a programme to make the person realise how valuable they are.”
St John Paul II reflects the beauty of the human person, and that helps counter messages young people get from the world that they are not good enough, not pretty enough, not intelligent
“And it’s just so beautiful to see young people to learn to relate to each other through new lenses and through respecting each other for who they are and who the person is and just
watch how they treat each other.”
It was lovely, she said, to see how they treated each other at the beginning of the programme, and then the difference in how they treated each other at the end.
Christ the King parish is now also collaborating with the diocese’s Marriage and Family department, Mrs Pais said, to run a course for young married and engaged couples.
One couple, Adam and Edel, who married earlier this year, wrote that the Theology of the Body course they did changed their lives.
“It helped us understand how to love each other in a completely free, total, fruitful and faithful way. I am soooo glad we did it before we got married. This course is being run specifically for newlyweds and engaged couples … and I don’t think I could even put into words how absolutely amazing it is and how beneficial it would be to those who choose to attend,” Edel wrote.