Ginny: As “Flower Children” coming of age in the 70’s, Gary and I bought into the lies that sex before marriage was no big deal. We believed that if two people loved each other, why not express that love with their bodies? We believed in marriage, but didn’t see the point in waiting for the “piece of paper” to express our love for each other. We both wanted children, but thought that once married we had the right to decide when we would have them and how many we would have. The gift of Theology of the Body (TOB) has proven us wrong!
I converted to the Catholic faith in 1991 as a result of a Pilgrimage to Medjugorje, Yugoslavia in July of 1990. In this town, on June 24, 1981, five children began to experience apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary with a message of peace. After first hearing of the apparitions and reflecting on the inspired messages of the Blessed Mother I experienced a strong desire to go and observe what was happening myself. The Blessed Mother eventually made possible a family pilgrimage that would forever change our lives. After returning home from that Pilgrimage, I chose to convert from the Protestant faith I had been raised in and become a Catholic. As a convert, I was so on fire about sharing the truth of the Catholic Church’s teachings and looking for ways to reach people’s hearts so they could receive the gift of peace that I had experienced through my conversion. I knew, however, that my witness had to be gentle and meet people just where they were. Saint John Paul II’s teachings on the Theology of the Body became a vehicle for that kind of witness. Out of faith, I believed everything the Catholic Church taught, but I could neither understand nor articulate why the lies I had believed as a “flower child” were counterfeits until I found TOB: The language of our bodies corresponds to the love language God has for us, and because children are a gift from God to be freely received, it’s not our right to decide when they come into existence—nor is it our right to discard them as we will. Gary and I continue to meet so many wounded people searching for something to satisfy the “ache” God has placed in each of our hearts…an ache that only He can satisfy. I believe TOB is the perfect spiritual resource to communicate the gift of true peace that God wants for all of us.
Gary: Like Ginny, I too experienced a revelation in Medjugorje. Raised Catholic, I chose to abandon my faith for 15 years, but after our pilgrimage, I couldn’t wait to get back. Why? Through true catechesis, I finally realized that the Eucharist was the source and summit of our Catholic Faith…I could never leave again. However, my greatest day as a Catholic and as a man was the day I confessed my sin of contraception. I wept like a baby, wondering how many children could have been sitting around our dinner table had we welcomed new life on God’s terms, not ours. But amidst this sorrow I found great consolation: For the first time, I saw my wife as a true gift from God, not someone to be used for my own self-gratification. It was like falling in love again, and for all the right reasons. Little did I know I was experiencing the theology of the body— something that I could not fully appreciate until attending a TOB I Immersion Course some fifteen years later.
Ginny: God, in His infinite Goodness, gave me the gift of sharing TOB with my son Matt. After listening to Christopher West’s “Crash Course on TOB” during a long car ride, Matt was changed in a way that can only be attributed to the gentle workings of the Holy Spirit. Matt attended his first TOB course in 2009 after a very difficult combat deployment in Afghanistan. He experienced great healing and consolation during that week, and was particularly moved by the holiness of the clergy in attendance.
After witnessing Matt’s transformation, Gary and I knew we had to experience the course as well. That following year, we attended our first TOB I retreat in Quarryville PA. What a gift! We soon realized that understanding TOB with our intellects and knowing it deep in our hearts were two very different things: It became clear that in order to really share the good news about TOB, we had to better assimilate it into our lives as well as in our marriage…and that was going to be a lifelong journey.
Gary: To this day, Ginny and I are joyously compelled to share our ongoing conversion story with anyone who wishes to hear it. As a Roman Catholic Deacon, I have shared our story of contraception from the ambo on numerous occasions, but now I can do so in the light and hope of St. John Paul II and the Theology of the Body. I speak to young people about the importance of treating each other with deep respect and dignity, knowing that we are all made in the image and likeness of God. I speak of our once hardened hearts that were transformed, testifying that if we have sinned, hope can prevail over despair. As the catechism states, we can’t actually return to a state of innocence— we’ve left that behind. But, by following Christ, Our Redeemer, we receive God’s original plan for the sexes and are enabled to live it with the help of His grace.
Through the Theology of the Body Institute, Ginny and I have been empowered to bring this essential teaching and message of hope to our parish, marriage preparation classes, Bible studies, and—most importantly—to our own marriage and family. Our favorite teaching opportunities arise in the intimate setting of our home, where we are often able to offer our witness one-on-one with couples. Some have shared that those simple meetings were the reason they continued to have children. Knowing what we missed out on in our years of contraception, there is nothing more healing for us than being overwhelmed by such an outpouring of God’s mercy.
Ginny: One of the greatest gifts we both received was the realization that our conversion happened together as a couple while our children were young enough to be formed in the true teachings of the Catholic Church. We look back and see how God broke our bondage to sin so that our children could live in the peace of the truth.
We hope our story inspires and encourages anyone who reads this blog to continue their search for the truth in Saint John Paul II’s wonderful teaching of the Theology of the Body. Continuing the search for truth is essential if we want to satisfy our burning ache for love and ultimately experience the true peace that only God can provide.
Gary Ingold is the CEO of Community Pregnancy Clinics, which fosters a culture of life in Southwest Florida. Previously an officer in the United States Navy and executive in the pharmaceutical industry, he now serves his local Bishop and church community as an ordained Roman Catholic Deacon. He and his wife, Ginny, have been married for 40 years and have two adult children and five grandchildren in Ave Maria, Florida.
Ginny Ingold attained her degree in Psychology from the University of North Florida and teaching certification from Georgian Court College in NJ. Ginny has been blessed to spend most of her life as a full time mom and now a grandmother. She is currently enrolled in the certification program at the Theology of the Body institute.