New women’s clinic embraces what is ‘naturally good’

For a combined 35 years, nurse practitioners Dede Chism and Abby Sinnett have cared for women beyond their physical needs. They have reassured worried mothers during high-risk pregnancies; embraced wives and girlfriends suffering from abuse; and lifted up and nurtured women when they felt ashamed, dehumanized or simply alone.

“All of us have a story,” Sinnett said. “We’re all broken and we all need care that embraces us.”

The mother-daughter team of Chism, a perinatal nurse practitioner and parishioner of Holy Name Parish in Englewood, and Sinnett, a women’s health nurse practitioner and parishioner at St. Frances Cabrini in Littleton, have been working together since 2012 to establish a comprehensive medical practice that honors the dignity of women. They will reach that goal when opening Bella Natural Women’s Care Nov. 1.

“All women deserve excellent health care,” Chism said from the facility’s site at 180 E. Hampden Ave., the former Bank of Englewood building, where construction began June 1. “All women deserve to be treated with dignity.”

The practice will specialize in obstetrics, gynecology, infertility and contributing health issues, through conventional and natural methods in line with Church teaching.

“We’re working with a system that naturally is good,” Sinnett said of God’s design for women. “We’ll embrace what is naturally good … (and when there are problems) get to the root cause, versus masking a problem with more hormones.”

The clinic—located in a 4,000-square-foot space with seven care rooms, an ultrasound room, a consultation area, space for procedures and lab work, and a chapel—will provide gynecological care, obstetrics care, annual exams, breast exams, health management and weight management.

“As women reevaluate what they’re putting in their bodies, buying organic beef or growing their own vegetables,” Sinnett said, they are also questioning the effects of artificial methods of health care and considering more natural choices.

Both Chism and Sinnett received training at the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction in Omaha, Neb. The institute, founded by Dr. Thomas W. Hilgers in 1985, challenges mainstream medicine’s use of artificial reproductive technology by developing natural and morally acceptable options. It is internationally recognized for developing the Creighton Model FertilityCare System and NaPro (natural procreative) Technology, used to diagnose and treat reproductive and gynecological problems with medical and surgical approaches.

Dr. Steve Hickner, a Catholic OB/GYN with 25 years experience, will join the team in December after completing a one-year fellowship in medical and surgical NaPro Technology under Hilgers’ direction. He has long been interested in Hilgers’ philosophy and technology, including robotic surgery, to provide less invasive treatments for women.

“We have to be aware of mind, body and spirit when we direct our care and healing,” Hickner told the Register from Omaha in a phone conversation. “We have to be technically savvy—not only reaching out as technicians, but also recognizing Christ in every person.”

Hickner’s wife, Carol, a registered nurse, will join the Bella staff as well. In addition to Chism, Sinnett and the Hickners, staff will include a midwife, ultrasound sonographer, more registered nurses, fertility care practitioners and medical assistants.

“We want people to be whole,” Chism said. “Everything we do will be with intent, whether we’re delivering good news, bad news or scary news; we will walk with people in serious issues.”

The practice, supported by Archbishop Samuel Aquila, is currently accepting patients and welcomes women of all faiths, ages and income levels. The nonprofit group accepts insurance as well as Medicaid. For more information, visit, call 720-583-4937 or email

Q: What does “bella” mean?
In Italian and Spanish the word “bella” means beautiful. In Latin, it means war. The founders of Bella Natural Women’s Center see this as a fitting name for their health care center as it will stand up for the dignity and reverence of women in a culture where it is regularly challenged.

Bella Natural Women’s Care

Opening: Nov. 1

Physical address: 180 E. Hampden Ave., Englewood (block west of Swedish Medical Center)

Mailing address: 26 W. Dry Creek Circle – No. 600, Littleton CO 80120


Phone: 720-583-4937


COMING UP: On Fathers and Christian Masculinity

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The Year of St. Joseph points us to Jesus’ adoptive father, Joseph, as the essential model for fathers. Joseph not only manifests genuine masculinity, he also images God’s own fatherhood, as Pope Francis makes clear in his apostolic letter, Patris Corde: “In his relationship to Jesus, Joseph was the earthly shadow of the heavenly Father: he watched over him and protected him, never leaving him to go his own way.” Jesus, though the Son of God, obeyed Joseph, learned from him, and worked with him, acknowledging Joseph as a true expression of God’s own fatherhood.  

God does not just use fatherhood as an image of himself, because he himself is Father, even within his own triune life. Earthly fatherhood comes forth from him and should manifest his life and love. St. Paul speaks of honoring the “Father, from whom all fatherhood in heaven and on earth is named” (Eph 3:15). God wants everyone to be able to see his own fatherly love and called certain men to share in his own paternal gift of bringing forth life and caring for others. Every father is called to be liked Joseph, “an earthly shadow of the heavenly Father” for his own family. 

Our culture, however, often denigrates masculinity, sometimes viewing even its proper expressions as toxic. We too often see maleness in its fallenness — dominating and selfish — rather than showing self-sacrificial service. In fact, later in Ephesians, Paul speaks of the true vocation of the husband and father: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25). He also speaks of the role of fatherhood: “Do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4). Paul shows us the goal of fatherhood — sacrificing himself for the flourishing of the family by putting the good of his wife and children before his own desires.   

No matter what the contrary voices of our culture say, we need strong men and fathers. God created man and woman in complementarity, and they need each other to thrive, helping the other in relation to their own strengths and weaknesses. Children need the strong presence of a father to discipline and teach, as Paul reminds us. Study after study has shown that fathers have the largest impact on the faith of their children. Christian Smith explains in his sociological study, Young Catholic America, that “the faith of Catholic fathers is powerfully determinative of the future faith of their children (125). The same can be said for general wellbeing and success. When fathers are absent or refuse to exercise their role, a moral and spiritual vacuum appears. A strong majority of felons, for instance, grew up without fathers in the home.  

St. Joseph helps us to understand the strength of Christian fatherhood. First, like any good husband, Joseph listened — not just to his wife but also to God. Woken up frequently by angels, he demonstrated obedience and trust, quickly leaving everything behind to follow God’s instructions and to protect his family. We also know Joseph for his work as a carpenter and builder, content to live simply and to work hard. Importantly, he also taught Jesus how to work, showing that fathers model and teach by drawing their children into their life and work. And we can also learn from Joseph’s humility, serving the Incarnate God and his Mother without even a single recorded word in the Gospels.  

This humility points us to the essence of Christian fatherhood. Although living with two perfect people, Joseph was still called to lead. He quietly and humbly did what was needed for his family and taught his own maker how to share in his work. Fathers do not lead in order to be in charge or to get their own way. They lead because God asks them to care for and protect their families. Fathers and mothers share in the great and beautiful partnership of family life, although fathers cannot simply sit back and let mom take the lead in the spiritual life, as they are often tempted to do. Like Joseph, fathers should act firmly and lovingly to put God and the family before self, obeying God and leading the family in the right direction. They are called to model faith, work, and sacrifice to their children. 

On Father’s Day we can affirm that masculinity and fatherhood are not just good — they are essential to understanding God and his plan for human flourishing. If our culture turns around, it will be because, in large part, Christian men stand up and fight. As Christians, we cannot give in to the culture’s attempt to denigrate masculinity and fatherhood or to pit men and women against each other. We can use this celebration to affirm the essential role that our fathers play, leading their families like St. Joseph.