What We Offer

Into the Deep:

the "why" behind our mission

Jen Messing:

groundwork for understanding the Theology of the Body

Who We Serve

(and who would you like to reach?)

There is a desire that burns in the human heart to understand who we are, why we are here, and what love is all about. No matter our job title, age, or vocational state in life, the theology of the body applies to all of us and can be spoken about in age-appropriate terms.

People young, old, or in-between can be offered simple (and quite innocent) building blocks for understanding the answers to even the most difficult issues about life and love.

Jen's particular gift is to adjust tone and vocabulary to suit the learners in her presence; she has offered presentations or retreats for:

  • Students & teachers ranging from K-12 (“classroom hopping” or clustered groups), open to parents attending and often followed by a teacher in-service.
  • Sacramental preparation (youth, adults & catechists – either together or separate)
  • Church staff & directors of youth programs
  • Young adult groups & University students
  • Women/girl's & Men/boy's groups
  • Marriage Preparation couples & NFP (Natural Family Planning) instructors
  • Pregnancy Center counselors & volunteers
  • Religious Sisters in formation


Year-round and seasonal opportunities alike!

Speaking engagements, teaching seminars, and indoor retreats typically occur during the school year and vary in length:

  • 1 – 2 hours (presentation with Q & A session)
  • Partial or full day/weekend

Most camping retreats will be held during the summer, with a few exceptions for those in warmer states or those who enjoy winter sports. The duration of these retreats can vary, depending on the age of participants, location, and level of difficulty. Some typical camping retreat lengths:

  • partial or full weekend
  • Monday through Friday
  • Sunday to Saturday


Utilize traditional or outdoor settings for talks & retreats

Speaking engagements, teaching seminars, and indoor retreats can utilize simple venues such as classrooms, social halls, churches, camps and lodges.

Camping retreats can be held in regional, state, or national parks. Below is a list of parks that Jen has explored on some level (explore our I.D. Retreat Photo Archive!), but we are always willing to discuss other possibilities.

If you would like to go beyond your own corner of the world, Jen has explored:
  • All the state parks along the North Shore of Lake Superior and most along the border between MN & WI
  • Many central and southern MN state parks
  • Voyageurs National Park, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, & Quetico Provincial Park
  • Isle Royale (MI) & Apostle Islands (WI) National Parks
  • Porcupine Mountains, Pictured Rocks Lakeshore, Sleeping Bear Dunes, MI
  • Badlands of ND & SD
  • Glacier National Park, MT
  • Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks, WY
  • Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
  • Olympic & Cascade National Parks, WA + Crater Lake, OR
  • National Parks of CA, including Yosemite, Sequoia, Death Valley, etc.
  • Grand Canyon, Arches & surrounding National Parks of AZ & UT
  • Big Bend National Park & Palo Duro Canyon, TX
  • Acadia National Park, Maine
  • Adirondack Mountains, NY
  • Cape Cod & Martha's Vineyard, MA
  • Smoky Mountain National Park, TN
  • Everglades National Park, FL
  • Volcano National Park & Molokai, Hawaii
  • Denali National & State Parks, Kenai Peninsula area of Alaska
  • Turin, Polone & Oropa, Italy (stomping grounds of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati)


When setting up a talk, teaching seminar or retreat, consider the following logistics:

For Indoor Venues

Your Part

  • Pray for your participants
  • Arrange for the space or location
  • Arrange for any needed food
  • Arrange for a priest if confession, adoration, or Mass will be a part of the event
  • Provide a screen (only if movie clips will be part of the presentation)
  • Provide copies of handouts if there are over 125 participants
  • Provide speaker stipend, mileage, lodging, etc. (please inquire about details but know that Jen's policy is to receive what she is given)

NOTE: The Catholic Community Foundation of MN will help fund formation for Catholic School Teachers in the Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis: see details here!

I.D.'s Part

  • Prayer for participants
  • Provide copies of handouts below 125 participants
  • Provide projector (when needed) and presentation materials

For Outdoor Venues

We Decide Together

Some groups have a desire to utilize their own local topography and others are looking for a new adventure. Due to the wide variety of scenarios, we will decide together how the following details will be delegated:

  • Seeking the presence of a priest for the retreat (Jen can discuss any details for conducting confession, adoration, or Mass in an outdoor venue)
  • For retreats serving those under 18, seeking potential chaperones
  • Arrangements for location(are reservations needed? what recreation features are available?)
  • Arrangements for transportation(will everyone meet at the location or be transported there?)
  • Arrangements for meals(I.D. is able to provide the gear needed for cooking/eating if needed…discussion is needed about groceries & meal planning)
  • Arrangements for various camping gear (I.D. is able to provide tents/tarps for 20-25 people but participants will need sleeping bags and pads)

Your Part

  • Facilitate participant registration & communicate details to I.D.
  • Provide speaker stipend, mileage, lodging, etc. (please inquire about details but know that Jen's policy is to receive what she is given)

What Topics

What focus or application of the Theology of the Body are you hoping for?

From 2002 onward Jen has been presenting to a wide variety of audiences about the basic catechesis behind the Theology of the Body and how to apply it. Audiences have included elementary school children, teens, Confirmation students, college students, couples, parents, educators, parish staff, NFP instructors and crisis pregnancy counselors.

These titles and descriptions serve only as an informational starting point to discuss what would best serve your group; adjustments are appropriately made for the audience at hand (age group, overall desire for discussion, etc.).

“Who are we and why are we here?”

Used as the launching point of every presentation (and thus typically paired with one of the topics below), this talk covers the baseline Theology of the Body concepts, set within the context of the universal storyline of salvation history. Emphasis is placed upon our combination of body and soul as human persons, what our bodies teach us as male and female, our unrepeatable gift of self, and the battle raging between union with and division from God.

“Applying Theology of the Body language to difficult topics”

Using “free, total, faithful, and fruitful” and “gift of self” as the criteria for loving as God loves, this talk explores how to apply Theology of the Body language when addressing major moral teachings of the Catholic Church. Though it can certainly serve as a “chastity talk”, this material takes us to the heart of why (not just what) we believe about gender identity, same-sex attraction, marriage, contraception, euthanasia, and on down the list.

“Building Blocks: bringing the Theology of the Body to all age groups” (or, “what does the body have to do with Faith Formation??”)

This seminar walks through the fundamental vocabulary that can be used to succinctly explain the main concepts of the Theology of the Body to a wide spectrum of learners (first graders, RCIA classes, one-hour-per-week Religious Education students, secular clients, etc.). Emphasis will be on how it integrates with the entirety of our Catholic Christian faith, the common ground of every age group, and key points that get to the heart of difficult application questions.

“The Theology of the Body and Sacraments”

Boring title but a mind-blowing glimpse into God's plan for feeding and strengthening us in body and soul through each Sacrament.

“Male & Female He Created Them: a Theology of the Body Couples Retreat” (or, “… : Vocation Preparation for Life”)

Anevening retreatexplores the meaning of being made “equal but different” by covering the common-ground elements of personhood, the call to give and receive love, and the beauty of our unrepeatability. The weekend version is a complete Marriage Preparation retreat, with talks on the Theology of the Body, the Sacrament of Marriage, Moral Issues & NFP, Temperaments, Love Languages, Communication, and Prayer Life (an optional Finance video can also be added).

This retreat can be treated in a universal or focused manner. A more universal retreat could be open to singles and couples, demonstrating the concepts, personal awareness, and skills that prepare us for living life with other people and making a gift of self (work, friendship, Married life, Religious communities, etc.). A focused retreat, on the other hand, could address Marriage in particular with a group of dating, engaged, and/or Married couples.

“Keeping it real: personhood and vocational discernment”

This talk explores the similarities and differences of the two major Vocations, addresses the “single life” question, wades through a few common pitfalls of discernment, and re-centers the conversation on the ultimate goal of making a total, unrepeatable gift of self – no matter what your state in life.