Certification Program

Though any of our courses may be taken for personal enrichment, our Certification Program bundles eight of our courses together to provide an initial or additional credential for Christian educators and leaders – clergy, religious, and lay – who seek to teach TOB formally or informally in a parish, diocesan, and/or classroom setting.

The program consists of six core courses and two electives (see chart) taught by a world-renowned faculty. Like our flagship course (TOB I), each course is taught in a 5-day immersive format to accommodate the lives of working adults who would be unable to relocate for full-time study. Courses are offered on a rotating basis allowing students to complete their coursework within two-three years, but that time can be extended based on one’s own needs.

In order to become fully certified, students must:

  • Pass an exam for each course
  • Read the entire text of John Paul II’s TOB
  • Write reflection papers for each section of the TOB
  • Complete a self-designed teaching/integration practicum within a year after the final course and its exam

Core Courses

Theology of the Body I:

Head and Heart Immersion Course

This course provides an overview of Saint John Paul II’s TOB.  Particular attention is paid to themes such as: eros as a yearning for the infinite; the integration of body and soul; God’s original plan for man and woman; the fall and redemption of the body and sexuality; the eternal marriage of Christ and the Church; the complementarity of celibacy and marriage; and human sexuality as an image and participation in divine love.

INSTRUCTORS: Christopher West, M.T.S., and Bill Donaghy

Theology of the Body II:

Into the Deep

This course covers those sections of teaching not addressed in TOB I.  Particular attention will be paid to the “hidden addresses” of the TOB, that is, to John Paul II’s mystical reflections on the erotic poetry of the Song of Songs.  Although they are an official part of the pope’s teaching, these reflections were deemed “too delicate” for the public audience format and were never delivered. They lay dormant in the Vatican archives and were only discovered after John Paul II’s death.

INSTRUCTOR: Christopher West, M.T.S.

Theology of the Body III:

The New Evangelization

This course examines how John Paul II’s TOB is not only a catechesis on sexual love, but illuminates the entire Christian mystery and provides a compelling way to present the Gospel message to the modern world. After a study of John Paul II’s pastoral program for the twenty-first century (Novo Millennio Inuente), this course takes a tour of the Catechism of the Catholic Church bringing the whole of our faith alive with the experience of the freedom for which Christ set us free.

INSTRUCTOR: Christopher West, M.T.S.

Catholic Sexual Ethics

This course reflects on the moral challenges raised by the sexual revolution.  It examines chastity as a virtue of true sexual freedom, looking at the winning explanation of Catholic sexual ethics provided by Saint John Paul II’s teaching.

INSTRUCTOR: John M. Haas, Ph.D., S.T.L., K.M.

Writings of Saint John Paul II on Gender Marriage, and 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 TOB.

INSTRUCTOR: John Grabowski, Ph.D.

Love and Responsibility

This course is devoted to Saint John Paul II’s classic pre-papal work Love and Responsibility and examines the philosophical foundation of the TOB.  Themes include: the dignity of the person as the kind of being that must never be used; sexual attraction and emotion as the raw material of love; integrating sexual attraction and emotion with the dignity of the person; male and female differences; the swallowing of shame by love; and the nature of chastity as a virtue that celebrates the true dignity and goodness of the person and of sexuality.

INSTRUCTOR: Janet E. Smith, Ph.D.

Elective Courses

Philosophy of Pope Saint 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 TOB in the context of his life’s work.

INSTRUCTOR: Peter Colosi, Ph.D.

Theology of the Body and Art:

The Way of Beauty

This course invites students to see created beauty as a path leading to Uncreated Beauty (God), and as a key to evangelization.  Besides John Paul II’s TOB, primary source materials include: John Paul II’s Letter to Artists; Pope Benedict XVI’s Address to Artists; and Pope Francis’s Evangelium Vitae.  Throughout the course, students are directed to focus their gaze on classical and modern works of art, especially paintings and sculpture, as well as poetry, music, and cinema.

INSTRUCTOR: Bill Donaghy

Theology of the Body and the

Interior Life

This course will explore the relationship of the TOB 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 TOB.

INSTRUCTOR: Reverend Timothy M. Gallagher, OMV

Vatican II and the Theology of the Body

John Paul II’s TOB is a ripe and mature fruit of the Second Vatican Council.  This course will examine how the teachings of Vatican II and John Paul II’s TOB coalesce.  Since John Paul II understood the Second Vatican Council as “the loadstar” of his pontificate, this course will also examine the impact of the Council on Karol Wojtyla himself.  Furthermore, it will address some of the historical factions in the post-Conciliar years and the impact this had on the realities of Catholic life for those in the pews.

INSTRUCTOR: Reverend Benjamin Bradshaw, S.T.L.

Theology of the Body & Spiritual Direction

This course explores various aspects of the theory and practice of spiritual direction. Spiritual direction is an art that allows many approaches. What is unique about spiritual direction is that it is a relationship that focuses on the one-on-one relationship of the directee with God. Our one-on-one relationship with God began and is seen in original man, in his original solitude with God and is the foundation of every other relationship. Through the wounds inflicted by sin, historical man struggles to live fully from that relationship. The relationship of vulnerability with a spiritual director or a deeply trusted friend can help us move towards our destiny as eschatological man, when that relationship is fully healed and brought to its ultimate spousal consummation with Christ. The spiritual director supports the directee in traveling a way of prayer, purification and illumination until arriving finally at transforming union with God.


INSTRUCTORS: Reverend Thomas Acklin, OSB, and Reverend Boniface Hicks, OSB

Theology of the Body & THE MARIAN MYSTERY:

A contemplative gaze upon god’s dwelling place

“Glorious things are said of you, O city of God” (Ps 87:3). “One thing I ask, this alone I seek,” says the psalmist, “to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and contemplate his temple” (Ps 27:4). These Scriptures, and countless others, are fulfilled in the flesh-and-blood of Mary, which became God’s city, God’s dwelling place. But for far too many Catholics, Mary remains an abstraction, a blue plaster statue, a disincarnate hyper-pious “ideal” far removed from the realities of daily life and the visceral desires of the human heart. Who is Mary, really? “Who is this who comes forth like the dawn, beautiful as the moon, pure as the blazing sun, fearsome as celestial visions?” (Song of Songs 6:10). Through the lens of St. John Paul II’s TOB and with the help of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the insights of countless saints and mystics throughout the ages, this course seeks to answer that question in such a way as to show what the most influential woman in all of human history means to us here and now, today, in our own personal lives, with all our questions, struggles, and longings. It will demonstrate how all the Marian doctrines of the Church and the call of true devotion to the Mother of God have one and only one goal: to lead us to deeper union with the Word who was made flesh in her womb.

INSTRUCTOR: Christopher West, M.T.S.