Training Christian Leaders
This Certificate Program* is designed both for personal enrichment and to train Christian educators and leaders – clergy, religious, and lay – to witness effectively to the life-transforming vision of John Paul II’s theology of the body. It provides an initial or additional credential for those who seek to teach the theology of the body formally or informally in a parish, diocesan, and/or classroom setting.
Courses are designed to accommodate the lives of working adults who would be unable to relocate for full-time study. Unless otherwise indicated, each class is taught in a 5-day (Sunday Evening-Friday) intensive format at Black Rock Retreat Center located in beautiful Southern Lancaster County, PA, easily accessible from the Philadelphia airport. Black Rock Retreat offers a perfect setting in which to study, pray, and relax.
Integrating “Head & Heart”
The Theology of the Body Institute recognizes the value of rigorous academic study and praises those theologians and institutions devoted primarily to that end. The temptation for many students of theology, however, is to “remain in the head” without an accompanying integration with the heart.
John Paul II’s extended teaching on the meaning of sexual love and the human body is not only intellectually stimulating, but also the truths it proclaims are inwardly life-changing, especially for those wounded by the lies of our pornographic culture. This program offers both stimulating academic study and promotes personal integration of the material, helping students journey “from head to heart.”
To that end, most courses contain a “retreat-like” component, with opportunities for daily Mass, adoration and confession. Students are encouraged to balance study with prayer and academic writing with prayerful journaling.
The Theology of the Body Institute recognizes that there are two categories of participants of our courses. As a result, there are two tracks, Audit and Certification.
Audit Track consists of students who wish to audit the course. These students do not wish to pursue certification nor an advanced degree and are not obligated to take the assessment. These students choose to take courses for their personal enrichment and spiritual renewal.
Certification Track consists of students who are seeking certification through the Theology of the Body Institute. These students are obligated to take the assessment for each course attended (see assessment section below). They are required to take all of the six core courses and two elective courses. The final preparation for certification would be to complete the Integration Seminar/Teaching Practicum and receive final approval for certification from the Theology of the Body Institute.
Theology of the Body I (Head and Heart Immersion Course)
This course examines the main themes of the 129 Wednesday audience addresses that comprise John Paul II’s “theology of the body.” Particular attention will be paid to themes such as creation in the imago Dei, fall and redemption, Christian ethics and ethos, freedom and person, gender and vocation.
*Theology of the Body I (Head & Heart Immersion Course) is currently credited through Creighton University.
Love and Responsibility Immersion Course
Karol Wojtyla’s classic work Love and Responsibility is his philosophic treatment of sexual attraction. In this text he explains how to transform the sexual urge from a desire for selfish pleasure to a means for expressing love. This course will examine the philosophy of the human person and human sexuality that undergirds John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. Among themes that will be covered are the meaning of the personalistic norm, sexual attraction as the raw material of love, male and female difference, conscious parenthood, shame and the true nature of chastity as a virtue.
Catholic Sexual Ethics
This course reflects on the moral challenges raised by the sexual revolution in the twentieth century. It will examine chastity as a virtue looking at the specific issues of fornication, adultery, masturbation, chastity within marriage, contraception, and homosexuality in light of the Theology of the Body.
Writings of John Paul II on Gender, Marriage, & Family
This course examines the main themes of the following works of John Paul II: On the Christian Family in the Modern World, On the Dignity & Vocation of Women, and Letter to Families. Particular attention will be paid to the development in these documents of themes presented in the theology of the body.
Theology of the Body II
This course builds upon and advances the material presented in Theology of the Body I, revisiting the Wednesday audience addresses for more in-depth study. Particular attention will be paid to the developments in Christian anthropology presented by the theology of the body, underscoring the fact that JPII’s teaching on the body is not merely a reflection on sex, but a rediscovery of the very meaning of being human. (Pre-requisite: Theology of the Body I)
Theology of the Body III: The New Evangelization & the Theology of the Body
This course examines the implications of John Paul II’s theology of the body for the “new evangelization.” It demonstrates that the theology of the body is not only a teaching on sexual love, but has implications for all of theology, and provides a compelling way to present the Gospel message to the modern world. (Pre-requisite: Theology of the Body I and II)
The Philosophy of Blessed John Paul II
This course presents a tour of the pre-papal thought of John Paul II paying particular attention to his philosophical project of linking the subjective and objective world views. It will examine the themes of his dissertations, poetry, lectures as a professor, his contribution to the Second Vatican Council, and his books, placing the theology of the body in the context of his life’s work.
Theology of the Body & the Interior Life
This course will explore the relationship of the theology of the body to living the spiritual life. In the light especially of St. Ignatius of Loyola’s teaching on discernment of spirits, it will offer a practical means for understanding and responding effectively to the interior spiritual experience – those movements of the heart and their related thoughts – which accompanies living the theology of body.
*Additional elective courses, not listed above, may be added by the Theology of the Body Institute.
Integration Seminar/Teaching Practicum
The integration seminar is analogous to a comprehensive exam. Students must demonstrate an appropriate integrated application of their knowledge through a teaching practicum designed by them and approved by the Theology of the Body Institute. Five to six hours of practicum teaching is the operative guideline. This could involve teaching an adult education series, facilitating a study group, delivering a series of homilies, teaching a formal course or creating a teaching instrument/project through the fine arts. This fosters personal integration of content through the dialectic of prayer and reflective preparation.
Students wishing to be certified by the Theology of the Body Institute must complete assessments for each course attended. The assessment will measure a student’s current knowledge and skills attained through course work. Each student will receive a formal assessment (test) at the end of the course. The student will have 30 days from the last day of the course in which to complete the assessment and return it to the Institute. Students must gain an eighty (80%) competency on each assessment before they are able to advance to undertaking an assessment for an additional course. Cumulative assessment scores will be kept on file with the Institute.
The Institute has brought together a world class faculty that will provide instruction. Our faculty includes, but is not limited to:
Bill Donaghy, M.S.T.
Rev. Tim Gallagher, OMV, S.T.D.
John M. Haas, Ph.D., S.T.L., M.Div.
Peter Kreeft, Ph.D.
Janet Smith, Ph.D
Michael Waldstein, Ph.D., Th.D.
Christopher West, M.T.S
For a Certification Program Application, click here.
Questions about the Certification Program? Click here for our FAQ.
For more information on the Certification Program, please contact:
“It is an illusion to think we can build a true culture of human life if we do not... accept and experience sexuality and love and the whole of life according to their true meaning and their close inter-connection.”
John Paul II, The Gospel of Life, n. 97
“To make the Church the home and school of communion: that is the great challenge facing us in the millennium which is now beginning, if we wish to be faithful to God’s plan and respond to the world’s deepest yearnings.”
John Paul II, At the Beginning of the New Millennium, n. 43
Perhaps the most pressing need of the Church today, if she is to “make the Church the home and school of communion,” is for her leaders and members to witness effectively to the beauty and logic of God’s plan for human sexuality. As John Paul II so eloquently taught us, that beauty and that logic “is the pure and simple truth of communion between persons.”
The crisis of our day – both within the Church and in the world at large – is rooted in widespread and deep-seated sexual confusion. Rather than leading to happiness and communion, sexual relationships in our world are more often a source of despair and alienation. For such a time as this we have been given the great gift of Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body which immerses us in the Trinity’s redeeming love.
John Paul II’s teaching remains more timely than ever. Pope Benedict has stated that his “personal mission” is not to issue many new documents, but to ensure that the teaching of his predecessor is assimilated by the Church. It is with this aim that the Theology of the Body Institute has developed a Certification Program intended to inform and transform students with the riches of John Paul II’s theology of the body.