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Insight into Theology of the Body Gives Teens Hope


Shiner Catholic Church; Saints Cyril and Methodius
Shiner, TX 77984
Diocese of Victoria
United States

More Info

For more information, email Janene Diblasio.

Theology of the Body for Teens is a life-changing chastity program winning rave reviews from teens and teachers.

"I've been involved in Catholic education for 20 years as a teacher and administrator, and I've seen how teenagers are at a most spiritual time. This program is extremely timely and it touches all aspects of their development: mind, body, soul, and spirit. It is a tremendous source of hope for the young amid the culture of death. It gives them an insight into the theology of the Church that I have not seen in any other program." Rev. Robert Knippenberg, Diocese of Victoria

The need it meets

Teenagers' sexuality emerges as they search for meaning in their lives, and they are bombarded by a consumeristic view of sex and relationships. Theology of the Body for Teens: Discovering God's Plan for Love and Life is a Catholic curriculum tailored to helping them understand the positive significance of their sexuality and ultimately the purpose of their lives in light of God's plan.

Where it came from

Pope John Paul II taught "The Theology of the Body" in 129 lectures during his Wednesday audiences from 1979 to 1984, covering topics such as the nature of human sexuality, the human need for communion, and the nature of marriage.

"The Theology of the Body for Teens" adapts this message for today's teen. Its three primary authors—Brian Butler, Jason Evert, and Crystalina Evert—are recognized leaders in youth ministry and chastity education.

The Leader’s Guide and Student Workbook have the Imprimatur of Justin Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia.

How it works

  1. Training session. First, diocesan youth ministers, campus ministers, priests, parents, DREs, and high school teachers attend a diocesan-wide training program usually for parish staffs.

  2. Small groups. The trained leaders then organize their own small groups in schools and parishes where they serve.

  3. How to organize small groups. Each chapter can be presented either as a single sixty-minute lesson or as two lessons for 120 minutes, depending on the time available and needs of the class.

  4. The package includes: an opening prayer, icebreaker, texts for reading aloud, questions for guided discussion, activities, application exercises, audio-visual aids (companion DVDs and suggested movie clips), and a closing resolution to put into practice at home.

  5. A Spanish-language version is scheduled for release in 2008.

The results

Shiner Catholic Church in Shiner, TX, uses the program for its 12th grade parish high school students and 10th grade CCD students. Over two years, Fr. Knippenberg said it has provided:

  1. Substantial answers to deep questions. Students gain a deeper understanding of their human sexuality, the Catholic faith and the meaning of their lives. "It has been amazing as a teacher to watch their 'aha' moments and to see the scales falling from their eyes," said Fr Knippenberg.

  2. A greater sense of their own dignity, especially the adolescent women. They are more confident and demand more respect from young men.

  3. Deeper confessions. The students seek confession more often, understand better what they confess and are able to make deeper changes in their attitudes and behavior.

  4. Spiritual awakening, shown in a desire to share the faith with others. One young lady asked for the materials so that she could teach her boyfriend what she had learned. An entire group of seniors who had been through the program volunteered to serve at an 11th grade Confirmation retreat so that they could share the faith they now understood more deeply.

  5. Rave reviews from teens. Teens across the country have enjoyed the program, saying that it was "eye-opening" and "very nonjudgmental and informative." They felt "encouraged, not condemned." Students report that the real-life stories and examples reach them on their level.

Key elements

  1. The training session has been shown to be a significant help in equipping leaders to teach the proram.

  2. Leader’s Guide provides helpful teaching tips and discussion questions for each topic.

  3. The DVD series provides an overview and introduction to each of the twelve chapters.

  4. Optimum ages: high school, mainly 10th - 12th graders.

How to implement it

  1. Visit the Theology of the Body for Teens web site at

  2. Download the promotional materials and purchase the study materials and leader's guide.

  3. Organize an information session for the diocese, led by a teacher of the program and/or a representative from Ascension Press.

  4. Schedule a training session for the entire diocese and promote it for all parishes. Training sessions are geared to DREs, youth ministers, pastors, teachers, and students who play leadership roles in ministering to young people.

  5. After the training session, each participant organizes his or her own small group sessions to begin the 12-part study series.

Rev. Robert Knippenberg is pastor of Shiner Catholic Church; Saints Cyril and Methodius.

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