For expecting parents, there’s no shortage of resources, classes and programs that guide them through the physical aspects of pregnancy and childbirth, but few that incorporate a spiritual element to the preparations.
To that end, Rose Medical Center and the Archdiocese of Denver have teamed up to create Catholic Baby University, a holistic program for parents that not only includes birthing instruction and a “baby safe” class that prepares the couple for when baby comes home, but also a crash course in Catholicism.
Catholic Baby University came from the heart and mind of Rabbi Jeffrey Kaye, director of chaplaincy services at Rose Medical, who helped bring to life Jewish Baby University.
“The program was created a couple years before my arrival and as I was applying for the position, [Jewish Baby University] was one of the things that got me excited,” Rabbi Kaye said. “It’s a cutting edge, holistic program combining preparing for childbirth with a spiritual component, and it’s been replicated in other programs across the country.”
“It’s truly been a dream of mine for a long time to use Jewish Baby University as a model to share with other beautiful faith traditions, to celebrate life and create a special bonded group,” he added. “And it was very natural to go next to the Catholic [community].”
Much of the success of Jewish Baby University has been attributed to the community built in the participants who’ve taken the class, who then spread the excitement about it via word of mouth.
“It’s so meaningful for families,” Rabbi Kaye said. “It teaches what to expect in birthing and delivery…it is the all-important spiritual component that life is a miracle and blessing, and life is meant to be treasured.
“And what better time when you’re bringing life into the world to reconnect with the beautiful faith and tradition.”
Scott Elmer, the director of the Office of Evangelization and Family Life Ministries of the Archdiocese of Denver, said his team jumped at the invitation from Rose Medical to offer a similar program for Catholics.
“Statistically, people become more religiously involved when they have children,” he told Denver Catholic, “so we want to respond to people’s desires to reengage their faith with the coming of their child.
“We want to be there to welcome them, celebrate the new life, and give them the tools they need to incorporate God into their home life.”
Elmer said that the Catholic formation aspect of the program is not extensive, as it’s limited to two sessions, but that it’s a start: “We are taking a step to meet them half way, so they don’t have to do it all on their own. It’s a gesture to tell them, we are here to help.”
“We are hoping to engage couples who desire to raise their children in the Catholic faith, couples who were raised Catholic but wonder if the Church is worth their family’s time and commitment, and couples who may curious what the Church has to offer their family,” Elmer said, who is facilitating the Catholicism classes.
“The most important thing we’re hoping to convey to the participants is that God is real, he is alive, he loves them and has an incredible plan for their families,” Elmer added. “To people on the fence, I would say that there is only one good reason that anyone has ever followed Jesus Christ: They have come to believe that He has the words of everlasting life. But if [he really does], how can you risk not giving him the opportunity to prove it to you?”
An integrated approach
The childbirth classes will be covered by certified birth instructors Susan Geissler and Jessica Potter, who are both doulas and hope to empower parents through education.
“Along with the practical information of what childbirth entails from a physical standpoint, my hope is that couples would come away from this class feeling better prepared both emotionally and spiritually as well,” Potter said. “Childbirth should not be merely a medical event, but rather a spiritual, emotional experience that they get to be a part of and have an active role in.”
“Although childbirth holds many things that we cannot control, as much as we would like to, that is okay,” she continued. “No matter how a birth unfolds, it is a beautiful story that we are blessed with. Through that story we find strength we never thought we possessed and a closeness with our creator that we could never have once imagined.”
Some of the topics covered through the classes include sacraments, praying as a family, fostering Catholic traditions, using Natural Family Planning post-baby, the role of godparents and choosing a baby’s name, and an optional mini-evening retreat.
The course begins January of 2018 and is available for three sessions during the year. Registration is open now and costs $100. For more information and to see available class dates, visit catholicbabyu.org or contact Mary McGeehan at 303.715.3107, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.