Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Sister Tracey Dugas, FSP, and Brian Butler, executive director and co-founder of Dumb Ox Ministries, led a session at the ECHO retreat at Camp Covecrest in 2021. The ECHO retreat focuses on “Theology of the Body” by St. John Paul II.


ECHO retreat on ‘Theology of the Body’ April 1-7

By SAMANTHA SMITH, Staff Writer | Published January 20, 2022

ATLANTA—High school youth and young adults are invited to learn more about their faith this spring at the ECHO retreat.

The retreat, which focuses on “Theology of the Body,” will be held at Camp Covecrest in Tiger April 1-7. Hosted by Dumb Ox Ministries, a nonprofit organization based in Louisiana, the retreat teaches about the human body and its relationship with God and others. 

Joey Martineck, director of Respect Life Ministry, and Allen Austin, who manages Campus and Young Adult Ministries for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, share a passion for “Theology of the Body” and have attended ECHO retreats in the past. These ministries are co-sponsoring the spring retreat.

The retreat “explains what it means to be human and the reality of being made in the image and likeness of God,” said Austin. “It was like discovering my true identity as a son of God.”

“It’s not a sex ethics talk,” explained Martineck. “It’s the why behind everything that the church has to say about sex and the human person.”

Young adults can choose to attend for the full week or just a weekend retreat on April 1-3. Youth in grades 10th through 12th will tentatively attend April 4-7, to be led by the young adults.

Written by St. John Paul II, “Theology of the Body” is a series of addresses given by the pope to his Wednesday papal audience in Rome from Sept. 1979 to Nov. 1984. It consists of 129 individual addresses and six cycles that focus on the meaning of the human body and how it answers fundamental questions regarding the Catholic faith.

The first three cycles of “Theology of the Body” focus on the words of Christ. The last three cycles focus on the sacrament of marriage, the language of the body and Pope Paul VI’s  encyclical, “Humanae Vitae.”

The ECHO retreat takes a deep dive into “Theology of the Body,” answering questions about the meaning of man and woman, how to love like God, how to have life-giving relationships and more. Each retreat includes spiritual worship, dynamic speakers and opportunities for attendees to share their gifts.

Even with an in depth study of “Theology of the Body” for nearly 10 years, Martineck feels he has barely scratched the surface of its “riches.”

“God wants to bring integrated healing,” said Martineck. He wants to heal the wounds people have around sexuality, he said.

What you experience at the retreat is “amazing,” said Martineck. “It’s kind of like living the way God intended us to.”

Registration for the ECHO retreat is required and on a first-come, first-served basis. The cost is $320 for young adults who attend April 1-7, $120 for young adults for the weekend retreat and $165 for teens. The dates for teens are tentative as organizers gauge interest. The fee includes accommodations, meals and retreat supplies. Some scholarships may be available.

“We’re hoping to light a spark for ‘Theology of the Body’ here in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, knowing that it is a message that can transform young people’s hearts and minds,” said Austin.