TOB Institute 2019 Highlights

TOB Institute 2019 Highlights

Group photo from TOB1 course in Cleveland in September 2019. (Photo: Halie Lasken)

What a year for the Theology of the Body Institute! We are excited to share with you major highlights of our 2019, which were made possible thanks to your prayers and financial support of our global mission to spread this healing and invigorating teaching of St. John Paul II everywhere. Thank you!

Theology of the Body Institute drew 777 students from 19 countries for nine certification courses. The TOB1: Head & Heart Immersion course hosted in Cleveland in September drew a record 148 students. The program is arranged and overseen by Jen Settle, director of programs. Countries represented included: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Denmark, Ghana, Gibraltar, Guatemala, Haiti, Italy, Mexico, Singapore, Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom and United States. Learn about the Institute’s 2020 course schedule here, which includes a brand new TOB & the Marian Mystery course taught by Christopher in October.

A Master of Arts degree in Theology of the Body and the New Evangelization, offered in collaboration with Pontifex University, was launched in October. The first degree of its kind, this program includes the study of theology and philosophy and the history of Catholic culture, with a focus on the sacred arts, and the writings of Pope St. John Paul II with a particular emphasis on the Theology of the Body. The degree is granted by Pontifex University and is awarded after the successful completion of 36 credit hours, an exam and essay for each course, and a final thesis. Twenty-two (22) of these credits will be acquired by completing eleven (11) five-day on-site courses offered by the Theology of the Body Institute. The remaining fourteen (14) credits will be acquired via Pontifex University’s online platform. Get full details and enroll here.

— Our signature live public event Made for More is rapidly growing, with several dates this year sold out and 18 events scheduled for 2020 winter/spring alone. In 2019, we worked with great parish-based teams and organizations to hold 15 events for thousands of people in Kentucky, Florida, Missouri, Michigan, Ontario (Canada), Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas, Kansas and Indiana. Made for More creatively weaves together dynamic presentations with live music, media and sacred art for an evening of beauty and reflection on the meaning of life, love, and human destiny. To bring Made for More to your parish, click here.

Christopher and Wendy West debuted the Ask Christopher West podcast, where they answer listener questions about faith, life, love and sexuality using the lens of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. The weekly podcast — a new episode drops every Monday — launched at the beginning of the year and has been a hugely successful outreach. As of Dec. 30, the podcast was downloaded over 276,000 times this year (an average of 5,300 downloads each week), with August being the biggest month with 29,720 downloads. Since August, over 700 people listen to Ask Christopher West on any given day. Questions arrive daily from around the world, and the top six listening countries are: United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Mexico and United Kingdom. Listen or subscribe via your favorite podcast app here.

— The online TOBI Patron Community, formerly Cor Membership, continues to blossom in the number of patrons and offerings. We are grateful for our patrons, who allow us to spread the beautiful message of John Paul II around the world. Patrons have access to ongoing exclusive formation (2019 included a virtual tour by Christopher West featuring talks at holy sites in Rome and Assisi from the Institute’s 2018 pilgrimage); a private Facebook group; expert interviews held by Institute teachers; a Book of the Month club; and more. Become a patron here.

Bill Donaghy was blessed to travel both nationally and internationally, speaking to a wide audience of clergy, consecrated, seminarians, laity, university students and his favorite work with our own students who attended his TOB 1 courses, Way of Beauty elective course, and the collaborative MISSIO TOB speaker training. He unpacked the beautiful teaching of St. John Paul II for seminarians at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Overbrook, Pa., students at University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va., and Harvard in Cambridge, Mass., parish missions and retreats in Flemington, N.J., Slinger, Wis., and Miami, Fla., as well as talks in Brazil on the TOB for the faithful of five different South and Central American countries. There was also work with men’s groups in Edmonton, Canada, Fargo, N.D., and Malvern, Pa., a teacher’s workshop at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, and our fourth year bringing a TOB 1 course to FOCUS Missionaries at the University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D. The year wrapped with two workshops at Conception Seminary College in Conception, Mo., and for the clergy of Fort Wayne/South Bend, Ind.

Christopher West, Jason Clark and Mike Mangione returned to both Spain and Brazil in 2019, the latter also including Bill Donaghy. The Spain visit in July featured a weekend presentation on The Joy of Beauty to hundreds at Universidad Francisco de Vitoria. In Brazil, Christopher, Jason, Mike and Bill presented to more than 2,000 people as well as over 100 clergy over three days in August.

The Institute returned to Mexico City for a pilgrimage in October. The highlight of the five full days was a celebration of the Feast of St. John Paul II (Oct. 22) at the Basilica Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The pilgrimage featured 46 pilgrims, including the team of Christopher West, Jen Settle, Jason Clark and Bill Howard of the Institute, and Father Michael Nixon of Panama City, Fla., as the chaplain. The last pilgrimage to Mexico City was for the Guadalupe feast day in December 2016. The Institute has two pilgrimages planned for 2020: The Holy Land Feb. 15-25 with Christopher, Jason, Bill, Father Thomas Loya, Father Justin Brady and Mike Mangione, and Aug. 9-20 “Feasting on Food, Faith and Beauty” in Italy with Bill Donaghy and Plating Grace’s Fr. Leo Patalinghug. Get details here.

Two Institute leaders released books in 2019: Christopher West released the 2019-20 Cycle A edition of Word Made Flesh: A Companion to the Sunday Readings in August. Director of Programs Jen Settle cowrote Consecration to Jesus Through St. Joseph: An Integrated Look at the Holy Family, which was an Amazon bestseller among Catholic books upon its release in May. We have several new books planned for 2020: a version of Theology of the Body for Beginners for Protestants (releases Jan. 21); part three (Cycle B) of the Word Made Flesh series (releases in late August); a very special John Paul II-related resource we are excited to unveil soon; Bill Donaghy’s book on the Way of Beauty; and a children’s book from Christopher.

Be on the lookout for your TOB Institute emails and social media posts throughout 2020 to get the latest news, formation and resource updates. Happy New Year, thank you again for your support, and we’ll see you in 2020!