Friday 27 July 2012
By Fiona Basile, Kairos Catholic Journal
MORE THAN 80 people from across Melbourne participated in an 8-week Theology of the Body course hosted by Australian Catholic University in Fitzroy. The Wednesday evening course was based on Christopher West’s Created and Redeemed DVD resource which explains Blessed John Paul II’s Theology of the Body in a series of eight lectures.
Theology of the Body is the name given to the extensive body of work conducted by former Pope John Paul II on the true meaning and vision for the human body and sexuality. Each session concluded with a question and answer time facilitated by ACU Chaplain Fr Dominic Murphy OP. On several occasions, Anna Krohn from the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family also assisted with answering questions.
National Formation Coordinator from ACU’s Identity and Mission Directorate, Therese Nichols, said the purpose of the course was to inspire, teach and show young people the true beauty of authentic love.
“The Theology of the Body course gives us the opportunity to reflect on the dignity of the human person and what we are called to,” Therese said. “It provides us with a new vision and hope for what men and women are created to be, in contrast to what the world offers.
“It was evident by the great feedback, that many people were deeply touched, challenged and inspired. We were also thrilled with the level of attendance at the course which only shows the great need and desire in the hearts of young people to want to learn and understand what authentic love really is. It has been an honour and privilege for ACU to host this course and given the demand, we hope to continue this important teaching journey.”
This was the first time Charbel Allam had encountered Theology of the Body. He said the topic was “of profound importance and very much needed in this society”.
“It was one of the most challenging topics I’ve ever studied and I think it’s an ongoing journey to learn more deeply about this theology,” he said. “It’s not only about the body, it’s about the whole human person and it touches every one of us.”
Heidi O’Sullivan and Vanessa Hamm were also studying the topic for the first time. Heidi said, “Growing up in a Catholic family, it’s been nice to go back to learning and understanding the reasons why the Church endorses—or doesn’t endorse—things.
“It has confronted some of the ideas and beliefs that I’ve had and has given me an update on what the truth is and why things are set up the way they are. From that perspective it’s been really interesting, and has provided more clarity.
“Also on a personal level, it’s impacted the way I view myself and my beliefs, and how I act and want to act in the world. Doing the course has been both productive and inspirational—I’m inspired to live by these beautiful values.”
Vanessa was really encouraged by the number of people who attended the course, and the variety of ages and backgrounds. “Initially I thought Theology of the Body was just for engaged or married people,” she said.
“I didn’t realise that it applied to people at all stages of life and from all walks of life. It’s actually bigger than just the physical body or sexual relationships and intimacy—it relates to how we treat people and how we view each and every person as the unique and wonderful creation that they are, and the way in which we love them and respect them from that perspective.
“I would definitely recommend this course to others. Being in my mid-twenties and listening to the world’s standards—the ‘right’ or ‘cool way’ to act or the way we’re expected to act—isn’t actually fulfilling. So attending something like this and listening to the ideas and values, while it’s been challenging, has really resonated deep within me—they’ve really struck my heart.”
The course was open to people of all ages, and from all backgrounds. A young Buddhist studying at ACU who attended the course said, “I don’t know where this is going to take me, but this is the beginning of something new in my life.” He intends to do further studies in Catholicism and Theology of the Body.
Courses in Theology of the Body can be studied at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family. For more information see www.jp2institute.org or email email@example.com
Photos by Fiona Basile, Kairos Catholic Journal.
Photos from top: (i) Members of the Maronite Youth of Melbourne (MYM) and friends (ii) Theology of the Body participants in the Mercy Lecture Theatre, ACU (iii) Heidi, Caecilia and Charbel (iv) Felicity and Alfred (v) Vanessa and Heidi.