Providentially, I grew up in a great Catholic family, as the fourth child out of seven. My dad was raised in East Chicago, Indiana, one of five children, and would ultimately discern out of seminary as a young man. My mom, born in Croatia, was one of eleven children. She immigrated to the U.S. on one of the “Freedom Ships” as a displaced person after WWII. Just days after their wedding, dad was drafted and became a helicopter pilot in the army. As a result, my parents moved all around the world while raising our itinerant family. Largely, we were that family who always showed up to every event at our parish and graciously served in any capacity requested. It was apparent we loved our Catholic church, likewise we loved the United States of America. Once my dad “retired,” we settled in Mobile, Alabama. He continued to work as the JROTC Instructor at the high school I would attend as a freshman the following year.
Subsequently, I went on to Auburn University to earn a Civil Engineering degree and to meet my husband Clayton through the campus’ Catholic Student Organization. I knew growing up that if I wanted to go to college, there were two choices: scholarships or loans. So, I enrolled in Auburn on an ROTC scholarship, warranting a commitment to serve after graduation. Degree in hand, I was commissioned as an Army officer, 2nd Lieutenant . I attended Signal Officer Basic Course, and Airborne School before marriage in December 1994. Next, we moved to Germany to live until 1998. By then, our first son, Austin had been born. Upon returning to the U.S., I separated from the army and my husband Clayton started his engineering career. We settled in Rockwall, Texas and considered ourselves “good Catholics.” We did what we thought was expected of us plus more.
Fast forward to 2010, when our eldest was 13 years old and we were expecting our fifth child. Our church asked us to help with a Theology of the Body retreat for high school youth. My response was, “Sure, but what is Theology of the Body?”
And so, our TOB journey began. We helped with that retreat and knew that we could not stop there. We realized that we had to teach this to our children.
Consequently, I began doing whatever I could to share this message of abundant life, authentic love and genuine relationships. I started by teaching our son and a group of his friends the excellent Ascension Press high school program. Before long, I was also teaching Ascension Press’ Middle School Edition. I knew this message was essential for our youth, but preparing the lessons immersed me in the beauty, and goodness of TOB, awakening my hunger for these truths in my life.
By 2014, I had been teaching TOB to teens for about 4 years, when I attended a large youth gathering in my diocese. There was a breakout session on dating, and I was excited to hear how this topic would be covered. I hoped they would include the life-changing message of TOB. Sadly, I was bitterly disappointed, causing a difficult time in my prayer life for weeks to come.
I kept ruminating… there were about 500 impressionable teens at that conference. This lost opportunity haunted me, leading to a search for some kind of continuing education on TOB.
I knew I had to prepare myself to be a speaker at such a conference in the future. My pursuit led me to the Theology of the Body Institute. My prayer time confirmed that I was being called to go there. Logically, I knew it couldn’t work. Each course spanned one full week in Pennsylvania and the weekly rate was about $1,500. I didn’t have the spare time or the available funds. Nonetheless, we all know how God works! Folks stepped up to help me with my mom-duties and the money showed up too. It was October 2014 when I headed to the Institute for my first course.
Wow! There are so many things to say about the experience I had there. Maybe that’s a story for another time, but here’s a quick synopsis. I was still grieving the loss of our baby at 37 weeks’ gestation, just 4 months before my first week at the TOB Institute. Having no idea how powerful this message would be for me personally, I thought my sole purpose in attending was to learn more about TOB to become a better teacher. However, being immersed in TOB for a week profoundly impacted me emotionally and spiritually. Before this discerning week, it was as though I had been viewing the immense and amazing ocean surface of TOB just marveling at its vast beauty. Yet, there were treasures I had not discovered for miles and miles below. I became more convinced than ever of the salve of TOB for this wounded world, but still there were many more depths for me to plumb. Therefore, I committed to the TOBI’s Certification Program, entailing nine separate courses and a practicum project.
All praise be to God, I have proceeded to teach TOB classes at various parishes, and have presented at events and retreats. For my practicum, the final requirement to certification, a colleague of mine and I presented a two-day retreat for women entitled “Restoring the Ruptured Heart.” Joyfully, on November 10, 2020, I received my official TOBI certification.
Proudly, I am now mom to 6 living children, and my oldest is married. I eagerly join in the Ruah Woods Press’ mission as a Regional TOB Minister supporting the ROOTED: K-12 Theology of the Body Curriculum and assisting in parent/educator formation for the state of Texas and beyond.
I know that the hurting world needs to hear this message and I am elated to help plant these TOB seeds starting in the Lone Star State.
My heart breaks for those who suffer needlessly, as they have not learned about this TOB antidote yet. Being a part of a Catholic ministry that is working hard to get these teachings out to children, teens, and adults, in an inviting, simple and effective way, is exactly where I want to be.
The surface of the ocean is indeed beautiful, but I want to keep diving even more deeply, to see all God has to show me. I yearn to be filled to overflowing by Him and in turn, pour it out to everyone I encounter. As I strive to reveal where others may delve deeply in their own TOB plunge, I pray God gives me the grace, courage and strength to be His good and faithful servant, for a job well done.
Kathleen Cory, Ruah Woods Press’ Regional TOB Minister (Texas)
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