2020 Year In Review
2020 Year In Review
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It’s been a trying and humbling year for everyone due to Covid-19. We continue to pray for the Institute community’s needs, especially those who lost loved ones from Covid or other reasons. Another cultural sea change from the pandemic came in lockdowns and restrictions that deeply affected many churches, businesses and schools and kept many people at home since the spring.
As incarnated beings, we are meant for bodily interaction. This is especially important, of course, for the work we do teaching John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. Live events and in-person courses are at the heart of what we do.
While we were still able to teach some in-person courses and do a few live events (at smaller capacities), most of our live, in-person offerings this year were postponed or cancelled. Like so many other apostolates, this forced us to pivot to online offerings, which actually widened our global reach in ways we could not have anticipated at the start of the year.
As a result, the Institute ended up being busier than ever in 2020! Here are some of the ways the Holy Spirit was moving:
- In January, we offered our first TOB 1 course in Spanish, taught by Evan Lemoine in San Juan, TX.
- In mid-February, we embarked on our first pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The TOBI team, including Fr. Justin Brady, Fr. Thomas Loya and Fr. David Marsden as chaplains, were joined by 50 pilgrims hailing from North America, Europe and Australia. After life-changing experiences following in the footsteps of Christ in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and surrounding cities, the group departed to their respective countries just before lockdowns began around the world (including the Holy Land).
- In March (just before lockdown), Bill Donaghy and Jen Settle brought our TOB “Awaken” retreat to FOCUS headquarters in Colorado.
- Also in March (just before lockdown), Jen Settle offered the TOB 1 course for the Missionaries of Charity novices and sisters in San Francisco.
- When our TOB 1 course in late March had to be canceled due to the lockdown, our team adjusted quickly to offer it online. It was so successful, we offered this new online version of the course three more times in 2020 reaching over 250 new students from around the world. We will be offering this again from January 18-29. Register here.
- From May 8-10, the inaugural free Theology of the Body Virtual Conference drew 77,000 registrants from 165 countries. Life-changing content from over 80 presenters and artists is still available here. The Institute will host another free virtual conference from April 30-May 2, 2021. Click here to learn more.
- The virtual conference’s success led to a Spanish-language TOB Virtual Conference that drew nearly 40,000 registrants from June 26-28. Talks are still available here.
- After many years of preparation, I was thrilled to be able to offer a new course in early October called Theology of the Body & the Marian Mystery. Unfolding the glories revealed in and through this “woman” was one of the highlights of my teaching career.
- For the first time ever we live-streamed a Made for More event on October 16 from Collegeville, PA, enabling people to tune in from around the world. You can still watch it here.
- Scott Hahn and George Weigel were among those who spoke at our TOB International Congress in late October. This had originally been planned as a major in-person gathering in Cleveland but was held online. The presentations are still available here.
- In all, the Institute welcomed 603 students from 30 countries for our seven in-person and four online courses. We filmed TOB 2: Into the Deep and the new Mary course, with plans to offer those (and others we will be filming in 2021) online in the future. See the latest schedule of in-person and online courses here.
- TOB Institute welcomed two new team members in 2020: Marketing Director Michael Tandarich and Assistant Marketing Director Thomas West (my son).
- The Ask Christopher West podcast which my wife Wendy and I host surpassed 650,000 downloads and published its 100th episode in the fall. The Institute also successfully launched a new podcast, Discerning Marriage, featuring host and licensed counselor Elizabeth Busby.
- The Institute also turned its media focus to growing our YouTube channels (Christopher West and Theology of the Body Institute: please subscribe if you haven’t yet!). Both will be a major priority for the Institute in 2021, including the debut of a new show, Way of Wonder, with Bill Donaghy and Father Patrick Schultz.
- Jen Settle completed her certificate in spiritual direction with Divine Mercy University and will be offering spiritual direction more frequently at TOBI in-person courses.
- Institute speakers offered presentations for numerous online conferences and trainings.
- The third and final volume of my Word Made Flesh book series was released in time for the new liturgical year. Word Made Flesh is a TOB companion to the Sunday Mass readings, with one edition for each cycle. You can get the complete set here.
- We released a brand new DVD series, Fulfilled: The Promise of the Christian Life, which is a tour through the first pillar of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (including the Creed) wearing TOB glasses.
We are confident that the Theology of the Body will continue spreading around the globe in 2021 and are especially encouraged by the pope’s declaration of this Year of St. Joseph. We thank you for your continued interest in our mission, and we are especially grateful to our many patrons for their ongoing support. We couldn’t do what we do without you!
Your brother in Christ,
Christopher West, Th.D.
President, Theology of the Body Institute