Love that is overflowing

A true openness to love, life and ultimately, God’s will, are at the heart of the Catholic Church’s teaching on procreation.

Unfortunately, recent media reports of court battles over the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act are an example of how Church teachings on procreation are often portrayed negatively by focusing on what the Church opposes rather than on the positives of what the Church promotes, which is a complete self-giving in the marital embrace that is both unitive and procreative.

To highlight the Church’s teaching the Denver Catholic Register spoke to three couples who adhere to it and to Carrie Keating, Natural Family Planning, Family Life and Marriage specialist for the Denver Archdiocese.

Contraception vs. NFP
Catholic marriage is based on the concept of “self-gift,” said Keating, which differs from secular society’s emphasis on “self-fulfillment.”

“Because we are created in God’s image and God is love, we are called to mirror that same love in our marriage relationship,” she explained.

God doesn’t hold anything back from his children and the Church teaches that couples are not to hold anything back from each other in marriage, including their fertility.

“The wider culture is more about how the individual is fulfilled through the marriage relationship or how they can create or control the life that they desire,” Keating said. “More and more couples are choosing to not have children and are turning to contraception and sterilization. They are cutting themselves off from the true meaning of marital love that they deeply desire.”

While secular society promotes the use of contraception, which blocks and can even abort pregnancy, the Church advocates the use of natural family planning as a way for couples to understand the natural cycles of fertility and infertility that occur within the woman’s body. The Church permits the use of NFP because it is not contraceptive. Whether a couple uses it at times to postpone or achieve a pregnancy, every act of intercourse is open to the possibility of life.

“Even when a couple uses NFP to space or delay a pregnancy, they are not preventing or obstructing a pregnancy,” Keating said. “There is nothing that is separating the unitive and procreative aspects of their union.”

Natural family planning helps couples “to experience the unity and grace that comes from living out marriage the way God intends,” Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila said in an October interview with Family Foundations magazine.

In the United States, “the typical divorce rate for contracepting couples is well over 50 percent,” the archbishop said, adding that “for NFP couples, the divorce rate is sometimes cited to be as low as 4 percent.”

“God’s plan for marriage is good for us body and soul,” emphasized Keating. “It is a beautiful teaching based on love that is overflowing. What’s more romantic than that?”

The Glantzs: Learning to trust in God’s will
Newlyweds and parishioners at Sacred Heart of Mary Church in Boulder, Nicholas Glantz, 27, a software engineer, and Andrea, 28, a homemaker, were married a year in May.

Nicholas and Andrea Glantz with their son Anthony Michael who was born May 2.

Nicholas and Andrea Glantz with their son Anthony Michael who was born May 2.

“We had never heard of NFP until we looked at the diocesan requirements and are so fortunate that NFP instruction is required of couples marrying in our archdiocese as it has been a huge blessing to us,” said Andrea.

While engaged, the couple took a class in the Sympto-Thermal Method of NFP, which relies on observations about changes in a woman’s body as well as changes in body temperature during her cycle to determine the time when she is most fertile. They’ve practiced the method for a year.

“Practicing NFP has been such a blessing to our relationship, our family and our spiritual lives,” Andrea said. “NFP has allowed us to understand what it means to truly be open to new life and has been a tool in helping us to prayerfully discern God’s will and plan for our lives.”

Prior to marrying, the couple had agreed they wanted a large family if that was God’s will. They credit NFP with giving them a way to express their willingness to receive the gift of children.

“We spent a great deal of time praying regarding the timing of children in our life and if we would be open to new life right away, as we found ourselves in a fertile window at the time of our wedding and decided that we were open and ready for the gift of a child,” recalled Andrea. “Although we did not conceive at that time, having to trust in God’s will from the very beginning of our marriage has had a powerful impact on our relationship.” 

Within a few months, the couple did conceive a child. Their son, nearly 3-month-old Anthony Michael, was born just two weeks before they marked their first wedding anniversary.

“Our class and the practice of NFP have solidified for us what the Catholic Church teaches regarding sexual union in marriage and responsible parenthood,” affirmed Andrea. “We have formed such a strong bond and we believe that this can be attributed to both the amount of time we have spent in prayer as well as the increased openness to God’s will for our lives and trust in his plan.”

McAdams: From the struggles of infertility to the joys of parenthood
Married seven years and parents to 2-year-old Elizabeth, Brian McAdam, 36, and his wife Sarah, 35, have practiced the Creighton Model of NFP since their marriage, having taken a class while engaged.

Brian works as director of formation for the Fellowship of Catholic University Students in Genesee. Mostly a stay-at-home mom, Sarah works part time for FOCUS. They attend Christ on the Mountain Church in Lakewood.

“We wanted to have children as soon as possible after we got married, so we didn’t anticipate using NFP to postpone pregnancy,” explained Sarah, “but, we’re so glad we learned the Creighton Model and highly recommend it to everyone we know getting married because it has helped us in our struggle with infertility and in conceiving our daughter Elizabeth.”

By practicing the Creighton Model of NFP, which uses observations about changes in a woman’s body during her cycle to determine the time when she is most fertile, the McAdams quickly realized they had fertility issues. Desiring to conceive children, they sought help from the Pope Paul VI Institute in Omaha, Neb. Dr. Thomas W. Hilgers, founder and director of the institute, used their NFP charting to diagnose and treat their infertility.

“His treatment brought physical healing to Sarah and opened wide the door for God to bless us with a child,” Brian said. “Using NFP to help us understand our infertility and then to dispose us to God’s gift of our daughter Elizabeth brought Sarah and me closer together in both our suffering and in our rejoicing.

“Through our struggles with infertility and the blessing of our daughter, Sarah and I have come to recognize the deep sense in which children are truly a gift from God.”

Brian said he believes those who practice contraception more often than not simply aren’t aware of the beauty and wisdom of the Church’s teaching on procreation.

“Like the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist, her teaching on contraception is one that forces people to make a decision,” he said. “Either the Catholic Church is completely crazy—as the world believes—or else the Church is absolutely genius, as would be the case if indeed the Holy Spirit guides her.”

Sarah said listening to seminary professor-author Janet Smith’s talk “Contraception: Why Not?” in college convinced her that the Church’s teaching on procreation “is right, and for our own good and happiness.”

“I’m so thankful to be Catholic and to have the Church to guide me in this area,” Sarah said, “otherwise, I probably would have never been exposed to such a beautiful aspect of my marriage!”

Jaloways: Desiring heaven for themselves and others
Dan and Barb Jaloway pose with their son Kris during a trip to Italy.Married 43 years and the parents of five children and 12 grandchildren, new Littleton transplants from Austin, Texas, Dan Jaloway, 67, a retired electrical engineer, and his wife Barb, 62, a former teacher and homeschooler, practiced the Sympto-Thermal Method of NFP for more than 25 years, until menopause, and continue to teach it online. They attend Holy Ghost Church in Denver.

“I knew NFP worked because my parents used it effectively,” Barb said, “and I wanted something that was ‘green,’ did not harm my body, and respected my fertility and that of Dan.”

Most important, Barb said, was to remain close to Christ by trusting the teachings of his Church. She was convinced that NFP and St. John Paul II’s theology of the body “were for my good, to help me.”

“My respect and admiration for Dan went up drastically when we started practicing NFP,” Barb said. “Our emotional, spiritual and intellectual intimacy increased and our sensitivity to meet each other’s needs improved. We were able to be more open and honest with each other.”

As their relationship deepened, so did their relationship with Christ. They began to pray more together.

“We began to value the gift of children more and were more open to life,” Barb said.

Their openness to life, they discovered, was a manifestation of their openness to God’s will for their lives. Their delight in and desire to do God’s will ultimately led them into the NFP apostolate.

“The Holy Trinity made us to share his joy in his kingdom,” Barb declared. “Over time, we started talking about wanting to help God win souls for his kingdom, heaven! So we got certified to teach NFP together.”

Today, although their two sons are still single, their three married daughters all practice NFP.

“We are very blessed,” Barb said. “God is good!”

For More Information
Find out more about NFP methods and classes offered throughout the Denver Archdiocese by visiting Natural Family Planning or by emailing Carrie Keating at or by calling her at 303-715-3259.


COMING UP: Father and son, deacon and priest: Deacon dads and priest sons share special bond as both serve God’s people

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The bond between a father and son is one of God’s greatest designs; however, when father and son are both called to serve the Church as deacon and priest, that bond takes on a whole new meaning. Just ask these two dads and their sons, all of whom answered the call to serve the people of God at the altar.

Deacon Michael Magee serves at Our Lady of Loreto Parish in Foxfield, while his son Father Matthew Magee has worked as the priest secretary to Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila for the past several years and will soon be moved to a new assignment as parochial vicar at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Boulder. Deacon Darrell Nepil serves at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Denver, and his son, Father John Nepil, served at several parishes within the archdiocese before his current assignment as a professor at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary.

However different their journeys may have been, all four have something in common; mainly, that far from seeing their vocations as a reward from God, they have received them as an uncommon gift of grace that has blessed their families and individual relationships with each other abundantly, knowing that God acts in different ways to help us all get to Heaven.

Interwoven journeys

Deacon Michael Magee was ordained in May 2009, at the end of Father Matt’s first year of seminary. Little did they know that God would use both of their callings to encourage each other along the journey.

Deacon Michael’s journey began when a man from his parish was ordained a deacon.

“I simply felt like God was calling me to do something more than I was doing at the present time,” he said. “I had been volunteering for a number of different things and was involved in some ministry activities and in the Knights of Columbus. And I thought the idea of being a deacon would be simply another activity for which I could volunteer.”

He didn’t know what it entailed at the time. In fact, he believed it was something a man could simply sign up for. To his surprise, the diaconate was more serious – and it required five years of formation and discernment. Yet he was so drawn to it, that he decided to do it anyway. But as he learned more about the nature of the diaconate during his formation, he became more nervous and unsure about whether God was really calling him to that vocation. 

While his doubts remained all the way up to his ordination, Deacon Michael was faithful to his studies, trusting that God would lead him in the right path. 

And God did — through the calling of his own son to the priesthood.

Deacon Michael didn’t realize that his son Matthew had paid close attention to his father’s faith journey and had found in it a light that gave him courage to discern the priesthood.

Father Matthew Magee (left) and his dad, Deacon Michael Magee (right), were both encouraging to one another as they each pursued their respective vocations. (Photo by Daniel Petty/Denver Catholic)

“Seeing my dad, as a father, growing in his relationship with the Lord was really influential for me on my own desire to follow Christ,” said Father Matt. “Looking at his courage to discern his own vocation and follow God’s plan in his life gave me the strength and courage to be open to the same thing in my life… He played a very important role, whether he knew it or not at the time, and whether I knew it or not at the time.”

On the other hand, Father Matt didn’t know that his dad was in turn encouraged by his own response to God’s calling. 

“As I went through all those doubts, I watched Matthew’s journey in seminary and listened to how he was dealing with that in his life. And, as he just articulated very well, I also saw those same qualities in him,” Deacon Michael said. “Seeing a young man in his 20s willing to consider following God for the rest of his life also gave me the courage to continue on in my own journey, to see it through.”

God’s way of uplifting them in their vocations through each other’s journey is something they are very grateful for. 

This unusual grace impacted Father Matt during his first Mass, when his dad, as deacon, approached him before the Gospel reading and asked for the traditional blessing by calling him “father.”

“It was a really special moment for me. He’s certainly my biological father and raised me. But then there’s something different when we’re at the altar in a clerical capacity — there’s a strange reversal of roles when we’re giving spiritual nourishment to the people — a father asks the new father for the blessing,” he said.

In both of their vocations, Deacon Michael and Father Matt see God’s Providence and the unique plan he has for all of us.

“We all have a vocation, even if it’s something we may not expect,” Deacon Michael concluded. “You may feel anxiety or worry about what it’s going to look like, but trust in God. He will take care of things as he always does.”

A bribe for Heaven

For Deacon Darell and Father John Nepil, the journey was different, but not any less providential.

While he grew up Catholic, Father John wasn’t interested in setting foot on any Church activity during his teenage years. His saving grace was perhaps what many parents have to do to get their teenagers to Church: bribe them.

“His mom and I basically bribed him to go to the Steubenville of the Rockies Conference,” Deacon Darell said with a laugh. “He didn’t want to go, but we’d heard so many good things about it, that we said, ‘We’re going to make this happen, whatever it takes.’”

So the Nepils came up with a creative idea.

“He owed me some money for a uniform that he had needed for a job in the summer. So, I said, ‘Listen, if you go to the Steubenville of the Rockies Conference, I’ll forgive your debt. And he did, he and his brother went. And John especially came back a different boy. He literally was converted with a lightning bolt at that retreat.”

To this day, Father John marks his conversion to Christ from the summer before his senior year in high school when he attended that conference. 

As it happens with stories worth telling, the details of how much money he owed his father have varied over the years, and it’s a matter of debate among them, but Father John remembers it was close to $500.

“That’s subject to each one,” Father John said laughingly. “But what matters is that they offered to forgive my debt if I went to this retreat – it was money well spent.”

Besides this important event, Father John said that his dad influenced him in many ways by the simple fact of who he was as a father.

“My dad’s faith and moral character were a rock for me during some difficult teenage years,” he said. “He’s a great example of a man who was always faithful and lived a really outstanding moral life, but then as he deepened in love with Christ, he decided to give of himself in a more profound service.”

Father John Nepil (left) and Deacon Darrell Nepil (right) both had rather roundabout ways to their respective vocations, but they both say serving God’s people together as brothers in Holy Orders is a great joy. (Photo provided)

Besides his desire to serve and follow God, the seed that would eventually lead Deacon Darell to the diaconate was planted by a coworker, who would also take holy orders: Deacon Joe Donohoe.

“One day he said to me, ‘You should be a deacon.’ And, of course, I laughed at him and said, ‘I don’t have time for that. My life is too busy.’ But it only took him to suggest it for the idea to keep coming back to my head, and God kept nudging me. Eventually I decided I really wanted to do that,” Deacon Darell said.

The ability to share at the altar during the Mass has deepened the natural relationship of father and son and given Deacon Darell and Father John new opportunities to grow closer to God. 

One of the most meaningful times came when Deacon Darell had a massive stroke in 2018. While he was in the hospital, Father John was able to visit and celebrate Mass at his bed and pray the rosary with him every day, as he had come back from Rome and was working on his dissertation.

“It was probably the most privileged and intimate time I’ve ever had with my father,” Father John said. “It was an amazing gift that really changed our relationship.”

“I feel like that’s a huge reason why I healed and why I am here today,” Deacon Darell added.

“It’s a real gift to have my dad as a deacon and a brother. It’s a tremendous honor. It’s one of the great joys of my life.” Father John concluded. “That’s really what has bonded our relationship together: the sheer desire to serve Jesus, especially in holy orders.”