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About The Author

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Since the 1970s Mary Shivanandan has researched and written articles from a Catholic perspective on marriage and family. In 1988 she was awarded a fellowship to the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, where she both taught and completed the STL and STD degrees. Her most notable books are Natural Sex, of which later portions were reissued as Challenge to Love and Crossing the Threshold of Love: A New Vision of Marriage in the Light of John Paul II’s Anthropology, published in 1999 and reprinted by Bloomsbury International in 2014. The present book, The Holy Family Model Not Exception is the fruit of her teaching at the Institute. Dr. Shivanandan is a mother and grandmother.



John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage & Family at the Catholic University of America,  

S.T.L. Magna cum laude, 1991, S.T.D. Magna cum laude, 1995


Cambridge University, UK, , B.A. hons. Magna cum laude 1954,  M.A. 1967.





Acting Professor of Theology 2001-2012.  Professor of Theology, 1999 –2012.  Associate Dean 1999-2001.  Adjunct Professor, 1989-1999;.  John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage & Family at the Catholic University of America. 


Lecturer and research consultant specializing in marriage, family and natural family planning (NFP) 1980-88.  Founder and director of KM Associates, 1984-2000.


Contributing editor, researcher,  Marriage & Family Living, St. Meinrad, Indiana, 1977-81.


Author, Natural Sex, published by Rawson Wade, New York, NY, 1977-79.


Freelance writer and researcher, Bethesda, MD 1973-1977.


Associate Editor-in-Chief, American Encyclopedia, United Publishing Corp., Bethesda, MD, 1971-72


Associate research scientist, Foreign Area Studies, American University, Washington, DC, specializing in Asia, 1969-70.


Associate editor, Mid East , American Friends of the Middle East, Washington, DC 1968-69.


Production assistant, Public Affairs, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Toronto and Montreal Canada, 1956-60.


News researcher, British Broadcasting Corporation, London, England, 1954-56.



Crossing the Threshold of Love: A New Vision of Marriage in the Light of John Paul II’s Anthropology (Washington, DC: the Catholic University of America Press, and T & T Clark, Edinburgh, UK, 1999).


Ed. Breastfeeding and Natural Family Planning: Selected Papers from the Fourth National and International symposium on Natural Family Planning, November, 1985 (Bethesda, MD: KM Associates, 1986).


Challenge to Love reprint of selected chapters of Natural Sex (Bethesda, MD: KM Associates, 1983, 2nd printing 1984).


Natural Sex, (New York, NY: Rawson Wade, 1979).

Breastfeeding & Natural Family Planning
Book: Natural Sex
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“Conjugal Spirituality and the Gift of Reverence”, invited paper, Man and Woman He Created Them, John Paul II’s Theology of the Body 2nd International Symposium, June 11-14, 2009, Maynooth Ireland. 

“Reflections on Humanae Vitae in the Light of Fides et Ratio” invited paper, Humanae Vitae: Forty Years Later, conference Ave Maria University, February 8, 2008.

Five Lectures on John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, Convocation of the Priests of the Diocese of Dodge City, Wichita Spiritual Life Center, Wichita KS, October 9-10, 2007.

“Happiness in the Thought of John Paul II and Thomas Aquinas,”  Aquinas Lecture, Notre Dame Seminary, School of Theology, New Orleans, April  20, 2007

Six lectures on the Theology of the Body, Sisters of Life, Villa Maria Guadalupe Retreat Center, Stamford CT, July 1-4 2006

“Duc in altum” Keynote Address, annual conference, “Taking the Billings Method to the World in the 21st Century: Why we do it. . . How we do it!” Ovulation Method Research & Reference Centre of Australia, Melbourne, February 25, 2005.

“The Christian Perspective: Modesty in the Abrahamic Religions,” A Conversation with an Interfaith Abrahamic Delegation from Iran, sponsored by: The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law and The International Center for Religion and Democracy, April 29, 2005.

“John Paul II’s Theology of the Body” lecture given at Michaelmas Conference, “Catholic Vision of Marriage,” St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto, June 10. 2005

“The Theological Anthropology of St. Bernard of Clairvaux in his Sermon on the Song of Songs: a Comparison with John Paul II,” paper given at the 2005 Annual National Meeting-Conference of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists, Franciscan University of Steubenville, October 29, 2005.

“John Paul II: The Redemption of the Body and the Call to Holiness,” guest lecture in the 2005-06 Major Speakers Program, Christendom College, Front Royal, VA, November 14, 2005, to be published in Faith and Reason.

“Relativism or Relativity: Religious Freedom and the Family,” paper prepared for the Becket Institute Inaugural Conference, Rome December 9, 2005,

Invited lectures, “Original Unity of Man and Woman, “The Redemption of the Body,” Marriage and Celibacy and the Language of the Body,” 2002 Institute, Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyoming, January, 22-24, 2002.

Invited lecture, “Our Bodies, Our Gift of Selves, “ Moss Program for Christian Social Thought and Management, Center for Catholic Studies, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN, April 15, 2002.

Author’s Spring Forum, Diocese of Scranton Pastoral Formation Institute, Dalton, PA, April 30, 2002.

Theology of the Body keynote presenter, Northwest Family Education Conference, Seattle, WA, December 6-7, 2002.

Reviewed manuscript for The Catholic University of America Press, Washington, DC.

Invited lecture, “Subjectivity and the Order of Love,” Department of theology, Franciscan Universit of Steubenville, Ohio, April, 2001.


Keynote presenter, “Theology of the Body,” Catholic Family Life Conference, Diocese of St. John, New Brunswick, Canada, October 7-9, 2001

Invited paper, “Familiaris Consortio and the Transmissiion of Life: Twenty Years Later,” Institute of Natural Family Planning Conference, Marquette University, March 22-24, 2001

Invited paper, “The Pope, Man and Woman,” at the symposium, The Achievements of John Paul II, Oxford University Chaplaincy, August 2001.

Joint paper with Joseph Atkinson, STD, “The Person as Substantive Relationship and Reproductive Technologies,” Society of Catholic Social Scientists Annual Conference, Ann Arbor, October, 2001.

Invited Paper, “Chastity as freedom,” Diocese of Pittsburgh, December 12 2001.

Joined core team of Reaffirming Marriage Initiative, a joint project of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and the Columbia School of Law, the Catholic University of America, for initial strategy session, February 21, 2000

Chaired working session, “Countering the Contraceptive Mentality,” at International Conference “The Great Jubilee and the Culture of Life,” Queens College, Cambridge, UK, July 3-7, 2000.

Public Lecture, “Fides et Ratio and the Relational Existence of the Human Person,” University of Scranton, Scranton, PA, April 27, 2000.

Invited presentation, “Reclaim and Proclaim the Christian Concept of the Person,” Archdiocese of Arlington Institute for Religious Educators, Arlington, VA, September 16, 2000.

Training Workshop for “Theology of the Body” study group leaders, Women Affirming Life conference, “Feminine Genius and the Culture of Life,” Washington, DC., March 23-25, 2000.

“The Sacramentality of the Body and the Culture of Life,” “Rebuilding the Culture of Life,” conference, Lincoln, NE, October 27-29, 2000.

“Pope John Paul II: A New Vision of Marriage,” Colloquium, “Chesterton, Ireland and the Family,” Newman Institute, Ballina, Ireland, May 29, 1999

Prepared Intervention on Anthropology, Speculative Theology Session, Pontificio Istituto Giovanni Paolo Study Week, “Il desegno di Dio sulla persona, sul matrimonio e sulla famiglia,” Rome, Italy, August 22-28, 1999.

Invited paper, “Mary as the Second Eve,” The Holiness of Mary East-West conference, Mesa, Arizona, December 10-12, 1999.

Faculty presenter on the Theology of the Body Teen STAR and Holistic Sexuality Teacher Training Workshop, Bethesda, MD June 15-19, 1998.

Invited paper, “Conflicting Anthropologies of Contraception and Natural Family Planning,” Summer Symposium in Theology for Religious Educators and Pastoral Ministers, Assumption College, Worcester, Massachusetts, June 24, 1998.

     “Catholic Personality Theory from the Old Testament to John Paul II,” 12 credit weekend seminar, Catholic Institute for the Psychological Sciences, Bethesda, MD, September 19-20, 1998.

Invited lecture, “Sexual Difference: A Trinitarian Perspective,” University of Scranton, East/West Center, November 4, 1999.

Invited lecture,“What Language does the Body Speak? “ St. Joseph’s College, Maine, November 19, 1998.

Invited presenter, Conference on Humanae Vitae, 30th Anniversary, sponsored by the Catholic Laity and Respect Life Office, Diocese of Providence, RI, Wakefield, RI, November 21, 1998.

Five invited lectures, “The Communal Nature of Christian Existence: Feminism,” “Responsible Parenthood,” “Parent-Child Relations,”  “New Technologies and Human Procreation,” and “The New Evangelization of John Paul II,” Summer Institute, Birmingham, England, co-sponsored by the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage & Family and the Maryvale Institute, June 9-13, 1997.

Presentation, “The Anthropololgy of John Paul II,” for panel on “The Social Science of John Paul II,” 1997 Conference of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, September, 1997.

Invited lecture, “Anthropology of John Paul II and the Human Sciences,” Postgraduate Institute for Human Sciences, Bethesda, MD April 25, 1997.

Three-part lecture series on “A Theology of Marriage as a Communion of Persons,” Education for Parish Service program, Trinity College, Washington, DC, November 6, 13 and 20, 1996.

Presentation on “The Theology of the Body,” NFP Teacher Training Seminar, Archdiocese of Washington, DC 1995.

Panel on “Essentials to the Concept of Woman,” National Institute of Womanhood Conference: “Women of Character: Defining Ourselves for the 21st Century,” Bethesda, MD, October 28, 1995.

Keynote speaker, 20th Anniversary Conference of Serena Saskatchewan Natural Family Planning, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, May 20-22, 1994.

“Christian Anthropology and the Ethics of Population Programs,” paper prepared for the First World Conference on Population, Development, Family Life and Ethics, Convocation of World Religions on Population Ethics, Cairo, Egypt, September 8, 1994.

“The Asian-American Family,” panel on Family and Culture, Fifth Annual conference, “Women of Character: Strengthening the Family,” Bethesda, MD October 29, 1994.

“The New Participatory Research in the Social Sciences and Its Relevevance to Family Plannning Studies,” paper presented at the Society of Catholic Social Scientists Annual Meeting, Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH, November 5, 1994.

Panelist, Conference on “International Politics, Abortion and the Catholic Church: Perspectives on the Cairo Conference on Population and Development,” John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, at The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC November 28, 1994.

Invited Lecture on theological anthropology, Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, MD March 11, 1993.

“Communication and Family Planning: Review of the Literature,” refereed paper presented at the American Academy of Natural Family Planning annual meeting, Omaha, NE, July 24, 1993.

Presentation on natural family planning to Government of Singapore Family Resource Center, Singapore, August 12, 1993.

Presentation on NFP to Natural Family Planning Service of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, August 28, 1993.

Prepared a policy paper on NFP Training in the Public Sector, Office of Population, National Institutes of Health, Washington, D.C.,1993

Invited lecture on Marriage and Family, Diocesan Seminary, Penang, Malaysia, July 30, 1992.

Invited paper, “The Catholic Woman’s Perspective on the Control of Fertillity,” conference on Natural Family Planning for State Midwives of Regione Emilia Romagna, Bologna, Italy, January 17, 1991.

“Implications of a Cultural-Linguisitc Approach to Doctrines for Sexual Attitudes and Behavior,” refereed paper presented at the National Council on Family Relations Annual Conference, New Orleans, November 1989.

Edited book , Human Ecology: A Physicians Guide to Human Life  on natural childbirth, breastfeeding and natural family planning 1989.

“The Blessings of Fertility,” presentation to American Academy of Natural Family Planning, July, 1989

Presented testimony on NFP on behalf of the New England Natural Family Planning Association, at Congressional hearings, April 1987 and 1988.

Keynote presentation on NFP, Missouri Catholic Conference, Kansas City, July 9, 1988.

Prepared case studies on NFP for the World Health Organization manual on NFP through the International Federation for Family Life Promotion, Washington, DC, 1987.

“NFP: A New Form of Communication,” invited presentation, Second Annual Human Fertility Institute, Twin Cities NFP Center, Minneapolis, MN, October 17, 1987.

Reviewed a glossary of NFP terms for the Institute for International Studies on Natural Family Planning, Georgetown University, 1987.

“Couple Communication and Sexual Attitudes: What Research tells us about Communication and Family Planning in General and Natural Family Planning in Particular,” keynote address, NFP Provider Conference, Portland Or, February 21, 1987.

Prepared a directory of NFP training resources for the public sector and evaluated Title X NFP training capability for the Office of Population, Dept. of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC, 1987.

Thomasina Borkman and Mary Shivanandan, “”Couple Communication and Sexual Attitudes in Natural Family Planning,” paper presented at the National Council on Family Relations Annual Conference, Dearborn, MI, November 1986.

Prepared chapter on  “Abstinence and NFP” for an instruction manual for medical students commissioned by the Los Angeles Regional Family Planning Council, Department of Human Health and Services contract #282-84-0082. 1985.

Keynote presentation, “The Challenge of NFP,” NFP Association of Kentucky Annual Conference, Louisville, KY, November 9, 1985.

“Invited presentation on NFP, Aware Center Annual Conference, St. Louis, MO, October 14, 1984.

Conducted workshop on “When there is a need for spacing,” The Couple to Couple League Annual Conference, Baltimore, MD, July 5-8, 1984.

Conducted workshop on “Sex Education (fettility awareness) with Adaptation for Mentally Retarded,” National Catholic Education Association Annual Conference, Washington, DC April 4-7, 1983.

“The Impact of Natural Family Planning on Selected Aspects of the Couple’s Relationship,” research paper co-authored with Thomasina Borkman, professor of sociology, George Mason University, at the Second National and International Symposium on Natural Family Planning, May 22-25, 1983.

Invited presentations on NFP, Arlington Diocese, VA, May 20-21, 1983 and March 11, 1981

Thomasina Borkman and Mary Shivanandan, “Sexual Equality and Abstinence in NFP,” refereed paper presented at the International Symposium on Natural Family Planning, Los Angeles, June 1982.

Presentation on NFP, All Hallows College, Dublin, March 31, 1982.

Two lectures on NFP, “Education for Parish Service Program,” Trinity College, Washington, DC January 14 and 15, 1981.

Invited Speaker, NFP User Update session, Twin Cities NFP Center, Minneapolis, MN, October 1980 and 1981.

Correspondence with the Library of Congress, which was instrumental in having the terminology changed in the Subject Cataloging Division from “Rhythm Method (Birth Control)” to the general subject heading of “Natural Family Planning” with “subdivisions of “Calendar rhythm,” Ovulation method, and Temperature Method.” June 1980.

Edited “The Plan of Pastoral Action for Family Ministry: A Vision and Strategy,” United States Catholic Conference, Washington, DC, 1978.

Prepared report on the Human Life and Natural Family Planning Foundation conference on NFP, Arlington, VA for the United States Catholic Conference, 1977.

Download full Curriculum Vitae .pdf 

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