Anyone who has seriously studied the Theology of the Body knows the name of Rev. Richard Hogan. He co-authored Covenant of Love with Fr. John LeVoir, the first commentary book in English on this series of addresses by then-Pope John Paul II. He was recognized last summer with a Distinguished Achievement award as a pioneer in the advancement of the teaching of the Theology of the Body at the first ever Theology of the Body Congress.
Fr. Hogan spent many years teaching and preaching on the TOB and Natural Family Planning. He worked for several years with NFP Outreach, giving parish missions all over the country. He served on CCL’s Board of Directors for three years, and was the primary person responsible for infusing our new course with a TOB focus. Fellow board member and friend, Bob Laird, shares the following reflection on Fr. Hogan and his contributions to CCL’s work, both at the national level and in Bob’s home diocese of Arlington, Virginia.
Father Hogan passed away on June 14th after a very short illness.
For all CCL teachers, you recognize his face in the NFP class materials. For Gerri and I, it was a friendship that began at a CCL Convention in 1988 when we first met him after he gave a presentation on his book, Covenant of Love, which was the first understandable English-language book written on the Theological Thought of Pope John Paul II and, remarkably, is still in print.
In December 2003, Father and I became members of the CCL Board of Directors. Within a few months, Andy Alderson, Father and I (as the educational liaison on the board) were tasked with the job of rewriting the CCL curriculum to conform with the Theological thought of Pope John Paul II and also put it into a form that was teachable. Father Hogan had written at least one catechetical series so he was familiar with educational instructional pedagogy. He offered to spend 6 months doing nothing but this; but only if Gerri Laird would help him. So, the four of us began working on the CCL curriculum – along with the CCL staff – but in the beginning days, it was basically the four of us.
The definition of NFP and the distinction between that and Responsible Parenthood came straight from him. The distinction between mucus characteristics and sensations came as a result of an extensive discussion between he and Gerri. So much of the original thinking that went into the course that we are teaching came from discussions with Father Hogan late into the night at our kitchen table.
In my local area, the original connection with Father and the Arlington Diocese started when Father began coming to the diocese when he was part of Priests for Life in the late 1990’s to help us with the Conference for the Engaged weekends and also to give pro-life talks in the parishes. He was the cause of us to transform the Conference for the Engaged program into one based on the Theology of the Body around the same time. Bob Ward was also instrumental in this work. Father didn’t write anything down at this time, but only gave talks. Bob Ward recorded each of his talks and transcribed them. These are what we turned into the Conference for the Engaged talks.
To show you how busy we kept Father: One long weekend – Martin Luther King weekend in January – Father arrived on Friday afternoon and did the Conference for the Engaged on Friday evening and Saturday. He spoke at all of the Masses Saturday afternoon and Sunday AM in a parish on pro-life/NFP stuff. He then attended a CCL teacher’s dinner that evening. The next morning he went to St. Louis parish where he presented an all-day forum on TOB and that evening he was our speaker at Theology on Tap. The next day, he and I drove to Hamilton, VA to meet with the folks at Catholic Distance University to set up a course that he eventually taught. These repetitive talks solidified our understanding of the theological thought of JPII and how we needed to apply it to the Conferences for the Engaged and then to the CCL NFP Curriculum.
It is that fundamental basis that we took into the design of the CCL course. During this time, he came to the diocese between four and six times per year and did weekends of up to 80 couples – twice as many couples as on a normal weekend. I believe that his last Conference for the Engaged was in late 2005 or early 2006.
He was called back to his diocese when the current archbishop arrived and he was made pastor of St. Rachael’s parish in St. Paul – a large and busy parish. So, he ended his life doing what he like to do best…being a parish priest.
We will miss him. May he rest in peace!