by: Laura Dodson
Theology of the body is the conception of Blessed Pope John Paul II that is literally revolutionizing the way the culture perceives humanity. Now through the Newman Connection, the ‘Rich Gift of Love’ can be found and internalized on-line at any time throughout the world.
“What I realized through prayer and experience is that understanding human love is the key to happiness,” said Sister Jane Dominic Laurel, O.P., Saint Cecelia Congregation of Dominican Sisters of Nashville who facilitates this newest Institute series. “We are made in the image and likeness of God and God is love. We are made to love and be loved. When young people understand that love is something pure and good, then they experience the holiness of love as God created it.”
Sister Jane Dominic teaches at Aquinas College in Nashville and is also a presenter at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, the University of Notre Dame and many more.
“I see the pain of young adults getting into romantic relationships before they’re ready,” she explained. “Our hyper-sexualized popular culture can cause young people to confuse love and sex — often leading them to take one out of the context of the other. They feel the pressure to become physically involved which actually impedes their growth in genuine human love.”
The program was developed over the course of ten years and is being implemented on-line as 28 presentations of 20 minute segments.
“We are very excited about the ‘Rich Gift of Love,’” said Matt Zerrusen, co-founder of Newman Connection. “This topic is relevant in campus ministry today and is something not only college students but all young adults are asking about and want to learn more about. Sister Jane Dominic has one of the best programs out there on this subject and she was the first person we asked to help deliver the content through our Institute. We are really excited to see the reactions of college students nationwide as they dive into a deeper understanding of love and self-gift. I know I have learned a lot about myself through the production of these lessons and hopefully the same will happen with others.”
Geoff Cole Smith graduated in 2010 with his master’s degree in accountancy from Vanderbilt University and was significantly touched by the program.
“I attended several of Sister Jane Dominic’s talks,” Smith said. “The first time I heard her, I thought theology of the body sounds so freeing. You’ve heard so many stories growing up in America. There’s so much noise in the culture. When you finally hear sexuality and the purpose in life put together in the fullness of the truth, there’s something naturally beautiful in that. We are wired to hear the truth and this is the truth I’ve been looking for.”
Smith, a certified public accountant with Ernst and Young is engaged to be married in July 2013.
“The main advantage of bringing very high quality Catholic thought and coursework on-line is being able to reach a wider audience all across the country,” Smith said. “I highly recommend it to all college students.”
Second Lieutenant United States Army Loretta Hanson graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Belmont University in Nashville where she was also President of the Belmont Catholic Community on Campus.
“Sister Jane Dominic talked about how the media and culture have taken away the meaning and dignity of being human,” Hanson said. “The social media — connectedness all the time with Facebook etc. can be dangerous. What makes us in the image and likeness of God is our intellect and our will and that is what it means to be human. Sister Jane Dominic brings those two elements in a lot and that’s the part the culture most defames. Those are the parts her lectures show us — that the truth and beauty in ourselves as young people can help change the culture and society. I urge people to seek out the Newman Connection instead of Facebook at 2 a.m.”
Hanson will start work shortly at Evans Army Community Hospital at Fort Carson, Colo.
“In hearing the truth and beauty,” Hanson continued, “I couldn’t help but fall in love with Christ himself and his Church that he gave us. I want to give it to the world as a military nurse and let God’s grace do the rest.”