Pope St. John Pail II's Theology of the Body is coming to our elementary schools, and it is going to be amazing. There is no prescribed "training" or one-time class to learn how to share this culturally relevant teaching of the Church. The catechists will have time to become familiar with this basic, foundational lens through which our faith is shared with youth. Many resources are available -from books to videos, worships, to podcasts and weeklong immersion- all explaining St. John Paul II's adequate anthropology: what does it mean to be human?
Since the teaching is deep, rich and complex, it will take time for teachers to fully understand the teachings as they proceed. We can do that one person, one class at a time. At St. Charles, both Father Ryan Mann and I “taught” TOB to the seventh- and eighth-graders. I know that I began to understand much of the teaching as I prepared for class with the students each week.
The Theology of the Body component of the revised religion curriculum, which is being rolled out this year, is a lens through which our faith can be taught. It will be woven throughout the religion curriculum and reinforced daily. Topics such as original, historical and eschatological man evolve into discussions about human dignity and sexual integrity — all at developmentally appropriate levels. As children grow and develop, we need to be talking to them about chastity and modesty and what our bodies reveal to others. We will have honest conversations about what marriage is supposed to be from God’s original plan. We share the truth about eating disorders, pornography and other topics that often are dismissed.
I am excited to support this revised curriculum by inviting The Culture Project International — which is bringing its ministry to the diocese beginning this fall — into St. Charles School to share the message of the dignity of the human in every respect. Young people who are closer in age and life experience to our teens will relate and connect in order to help them navigate the culture today.
Theology of the Body is needed in 2019 more than at any time in our history, and I am grateful to the Diocese of Cleveland for its support in making it be a part of our schools and diocese.
-Eileen Updegrove is principal of St. Charles Borromeo School in Parma.
This article was featured in the September-October edition of Northeast Ohio Catholic magazine. Click HERE to read the entire digital edition.