Patti and Chris Gutiérrez on their wedding day. They have used the Creighton Model Fertility Care system through their various seasons of fertility over the years. COURTESY OF GUTIERREZ FAMILY
Families around diocese thankful for fertility awareness methods through ‘different seasons’ of life
BY STEPHANIE CARRICO, SPECIAL TO THE WESTERN KENTUCKY CATHOLIC
Each year, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops dedicates a week in late July to raise awareness for and highlight the benefits of Natural Family Planning (NFP). The theme for 2022 Natural Family Planning Awareness Week is “Called to the Joy of Love: Supporting God’s gifts of love and life in marriage.” Dioceses and parishes across the country take this week as an opportunity to highlight resources and invite couples to consider the blessings of Natural Family Planning.
“The beautiful aspect of NFP is it lays a path for you to grow in respect and love for one another, but also to learn your body and the dignity and wonder with which God created you. The more you learn, the more you will find which methods work best for you,” said Haley Sandford, a parishioner at Holy Spirit Parish in Bowling Green.
The Diocese of Owensboro currently offers introductory classes in three different methods of Natural Family Planning: Billings, Creighton, and Marquette. The beauty of having different methods to choose from is that some couples find themselves drawn to a particular method because of their own personal experience.
Sandford says the Billings method is the most fundamental NFP method and is the one she suggests everyone should learn “because it gives you an introduction to how your body works and what it’s telling you.”
Patti Gutiérrez, a parishioner at Precious Blood Parish in Owensboro, finds the Creighton model helpful.
She shares her story: “We had the blessing of learning NFP before we were married and have been able to use it for our family planning throughout our 14 years of marriage, through all the ups and downs and different seasons of our fertility. Of our 10 pregnancies, we have lost six children to miscarriage and after our last baby was born I had heart problems that led my doctors to say that needs to be our last pregnancy. The Creighton Model Fertility Care system has served us well during all of my health struggles because of its high accuracy in avoiding pregnancies during the seasons that my health has required us to avoid a pregnancy. It has not always been easy, but we do feel very grateful to have a system that allowed us to learn my natural cycles of fertility and infertility, not compromise my health further with harmful chemicals, be open to life and cooperate with God’s will for our family.”
Stacey Freels, a parishioner at St. Pius X Parish in Owensboro, has experience with two different methods, but is currently using the Marquette method.
“We switched to the Marquette method about three years ago,” she said. “We were constantly second-guessing ourselves and wondering if we were reading the fertility signs correctly (especially while breastfeeding). With Marquette the guesswork was taken out of it – a monitor measures the levels of certain hormones in urine. We like that it is a very black-and-white way of tracking fertility. This form of Natural Family Planning has helped us to be knowledgeable about fertility while also being open to life!”
In the Diocese of Owensboro, the Office of Marriage & Family Life recently updated their webpage devoted to NFP and is constantly trying to bring more attention to what many couples in the Diocese are finding very helpful their marriages.
“Luckily, we have a great team of people devoted to this ministry in the Diocese of Owensboro who are ready and willing to walk alongside couples on their journey,” said Danny May, Director of Marriage and Family Life. “What we try to do is make information readily available about NFP for engaged couples and married couples, help them decide which method is right for them, and point them to an introductory training to get them started in that method.”
Stephanie Carrico belongs to St. Stephen Cathedral in Owensboro.
Did you know?
The dates of NFP Awareness Week highlight the anniversary of the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae “Of human Love” (released July 25, 1968) which articulates Catholic beliefs about human sexuality, conjugal love, and responsible parenthood. Learn more about it here: https://www.usccb.org/topics/natural-family-planning/humanae-vitae