Helga Sebernik has been employed by the TeenSTAR Austria Association since autumn 2015. This is financed by the Austrian Bishops’ Conference. She continues to teach nutrition and religious studies as well.
Kerstin Karlinger has been employed as secretary since 2011 and gives Helga invaluable support looking after the website, keeping accounts, collecting and analysing statistics and so on. We have rented a very nice office near to Helga’s office.
We also support other countries which are setting up TeenSTAR programs, which is why Helga was not able to attend the International Congress in 2016.
In the second half of 2016 a course leader training seminar was held across the border in South Tirol (in northern Italy) with 14 participants. Helga Sebernik (from Austria) and Pascal Gläser (from Germany) led the seminar. Many thanks go to Anni Winkler who has worked very many years hard to get TeenSTAR established in her country, and with whom it is a pleasure to work.
In the summer a course leader training seminar took place in Hungary (Plattensee) with 22 participants from Hungary, the Ukraine, Serbia and Slovakia (the participants were all originally from Hungary). The Initiative ERGO, a Pro-Family organisation (Ilona Ekes), invited TeenSTAR to hold a seminar, and it was held by Helga Sebernik and Konstantin Mascher (Germany).
Our course leader Elsa Schagerl, who runs a charitable project in Uganda (www.brueckenachuganda.at), supports Sister Theresa in her work. She provides teaching materials and information and helps with networking between the groups.
At the end of the year our new homepage went live and our workshop model for use in schools was completed. A full-length TeenSTAR course is often impracticable in schools so we have developed a program which takes place in four sessions of 6 hours (one normal school day) spread over 2 years, for 13-14 year-olds. For this program we have put together an attractive folder with worksheets and materials for the students, which will also be used in the full-length courses. Many thanks to Bettina Werner (Germany) for the professional layout and Uschi Waismayer (Vienna, Austria) for her great commitment in testing this pilot project with about 600 young people in schools in Vienna. We have had very good feedback from the schools!
Many information evenings were held and info stands represented TeenSTAR at various events.
2017 was a very blessed year for our work! We had our biggest course leader training seminar to date, with 64 participants near Linz, a seminar with 14 participants in Hallein bei Salzburg and another with 21 participants, including three from Hungary, in Vienna.
Our work in Hungary continued in 2017 too. A three-year European Union project was set up, which will finance all activities which take place over international boundaries! In December we were able to meet Dr. Körmendy, who set up TeenSTAR in Hungary. We didn’t know anything about each other! That was a fitting ‘Christmas present’ – our efforts in Hungary united as ‘TeenSTAR Hungary’! We are very glad to be able to work together.
The work in Uganda is progressing well.
In Austria there were 2 well-attended further training events and 38 certificate exams.
We work closely with the ‘Institut für Ehe und Familie’ – Institute for Marriage and the Family – which is subordinate to the Austrian bishops’ conference and through which we are trying to bring TeenSTAR into Catholic schools.
However we also work together with Christians of other denominations with great success, particularly with evangelical Christians. Many have never heard of fertility charting or the Theology of the Body. They are very open and grateful for the training we offer, and become very good course leaders. They also recommend us to others.
Our organisation now has 320 members and our email-prayer-group has 200! We pray for all events and problems. Priests say mass for our intentions and all the contemplative orders in Austria pray for us too.
We are funded by members’ fees, training seminars and donations. We also use a fundraising company to send out letters to raise funds, which helps us a lot and also helps us to gain visibility all over the country.
We work closely with TeenSTAR in Germany (Elisabeth Pesahl). We communicate regularly and develop teaching materials together. We also support information evenings near the border (for example in Passau). The TeenSTAR Kids project, with separate course books for boys and girls, which was developed by Annett Arnold and Elisabeth Pesahl, is well established in Austria and brings great blessings!
Welcome to inform of our work: www.teenstar.at
We feel very positive about our work – there is a lot of interest and goodwill (see the figures in our statistics) – but at the same time we feel very challenged by the general climate, which is not family friendly. Homosexual marriage is in the political pipeline, gender ideology is becoming the norm, there is an almost ubiquitous contraceptive culture, and most of the sexual education programs which work in schools – those with state funding – propagate this culture.
We often visit politicians with the aim of achieving state funding for TeenSTAR like the other sexual education programs in schools, and to gain recognition as a professional alternative with teaching materials and methods of the highest quality. We have a long way to go…but we will not give up! We see the fruit of our work and carry on in trust – we know where our help comes from!
We wish you all a very happy Christmas and a blessed new year in 2018!
Helga Sebernik, coordinator TeenSTAR Austria