I wanted to share my wonderful experience this past week attending the first ever National Theology of the Body Congress.  It was so great to connect in person with online friends and previous guests of our Catholic Moments podcast, and to meet new friends as well.  Although my trip to Pennsylvania was extremely quick, it left a lasting impression upon me.

One of the highlights of my trip was serving on a panel relating Theology of the Body with the topic of Pastoral Ministry.  Our "rock star" panel included Fr. Brian Bransfield, Fr. Roger Landry, Sr. Mary Elizabeth Wusinich and Dr. Gregory Popcak. I had a front row seat for their conversation on the realities of taking TOB into the "real world".

Another highlight of the week was hearing a keynote by Dr. Michael Waldstein, author of Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology Of The Body. His talk on "The Treasure of the ‘Hidden Talks’ of the "Theology of the Body: New Insights and Implications" was wonderful.

The following video was shot on my phone at the closing Mass celebrated by Cardinal Justin Rigali.  It gives a very small glimpse into some of the tone of the Congress.

I will like to congratulate the Theology of the Body Congress, The Maximus Group and the event sponsors for organizing such a fruitful gathering.  The following press release also gives and overview of the highlights of the TOB Congress. I hope they are able to repeat the event next year!

Philadelphia Cardinal calls the Theology of the Body ‘the curriculum for the Culture of Life’

Cardinal Justin Rigali calls for the National Theology of the Body Congress to become an on-going campaign of human and catechetical formation

PHILADELPHIA, July 30 – Joined by more than 50 priests and two Bishops, Cardinal Justin Rigali delivered a powerful call to action to attendees of the first National Theology of the Body Congress. He urged, "This Congress must not end. The contribution of the speakers and participants, the fruits of the seminars, discussions, and artistic performances must advance still further. This Congress must become a campaign of human and catechetical formation."

He called for the mining and proclamation of the rich content presented at the Congress "so that the next generation can continue to access and comprehend it."

The National Theology of the Body Congress organized and hosted by the Theology of the Body Institute drew attendees from 10 countries and 39 U.S. states. They represented 111 dioceses. Two bishops, more than 50 priests, six deacons and dozens of other religious were among the more-than 450 attendees. Because the Congress sold out very quickly the Theology of the Body Institute offered live streaming during the Congress that attracted online attendees from 17 U.S. states, and 10 countries on five continents.

Cardinal Rigali, who also serves as the Episcopal Chairman of the Theology of the Body Institute, remarked on the great work of this inaugural event, which he noted as occurring exactly three decades after John Paul II introduced the theology of the body. "Today, this First National Congress on the Theology of the Body shows us that the catechesis given thirty years ago is now the curriculum of the Culture of Life," Cardinal Rigali said in his homily during the Mass this morning. The Cardinal went on further to say that the "teaching of John Paul II on the theology of the body must be further introduced into Pre-Cana programs, RCIA instruction, Natural Family Planning training, parish adult education programs, campus ministry programs, youth groups, homilies, and religious education among children and adolescents."

The Congress included keynote addresses, workshops and panel discussions featuring some of the most popular theology of the body lecturers and catechists in the world.

"Being a participant at the National Theology of the Body Congress has been a complete and total blessing," Congress presenter and popular author and blogger Lisa Hendey said. "I feel honored to have been here and will go home inspired about further incorporating theology of the body teachings into my daily family life, my parish community and my work in support of Catholic moms."

Other presenters included Fr. Brian Bransfield, executive director of the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Secretariat for Evangelization and Catechesis; Dr. Michael Waldstein, the English translator of the Pope’s Theology of the Body; Helen M. Alvaré, law professor at George Mason University; Fr. Robert M. Hogan, author of three books on the theology of the body and one of the first published authors on the catechesis of Venerable Pope John Paul II; ethicist and moral theologian Dr. Pia de Solenni; and many others.

Reflecting on the Cardinal’s words, Theology of the Body Institute Chairman, David Savage said, "The Cardinal’s vision for this teaching fits completely within the mission of the Theology of the Body Institute. This Congress was designed to be a nexus for dialogue and discussion on exactly how we bring the theology of the body to the world. I believe we accomplished that and I am confident that the leadership who gathered here this week are going back to their dioceses around the world with a great commission that fits firmly within the Church’s mission in the New Evangelization."

In addition to more than three-dozen addresses, workshops and panel discussions, the Congress was the setting for an Awards Banquet, in which five honorees were acknowledged for their pioneering work in the theology of the body. Award recipients included Pauline Books and Media, Fr. Richard M. Hogan, Ann and Valentine Coelho; the Ruah Woods Education Center, and the Theology of the Body International Alliance.

For more information on the first National Theology of the Body Congress or the Theology of the Body Institute, please contact Christine Schicker with The Maximus Group at 404-610-8871.