NFP specialist helps couples be mutual gift

“Go, therefore, and make disciples...” (Matt 28:19)

This story is the first in a series highlighting some of the vital ministries the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal helps support. Click here to watch Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila’s message for the 2014 appeal.

Married couples are called to be a total and complete gift to one another, just as Christ was for humanity on the cross.

This is a truth Carrie Keating, natural family planning (NFP) specialist, is working to help couples realize and live.

Under the Office of Evangelization and Family Life Ministries in the Denver Archdiocese, she is developing outreach efforts and an NFP network that proclaims the truth of God’s plan for marriage, human sexuality and family life.

NFP is the Church-approved way of recognizing and charting the observable signs of a woman’s fertility. It can regulate births and help couples achieve a 98 percent effectiveness. Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M., Cap., made it a requirement for marriage preparation.

Keating, who has studied natural planning methods and taught them to couples, said NFP is a way to strengthen marriages. It’s like Christ’s total and complete gift of himself when he was exposed, naked and stretched out on the cross.

“So we’re to be that way with one another,” Keating said.

Her office is working to increase the number of married couples teaching NFP to couples before making their way to the altar. Methods available include the sympto-thermal method taught by the Couple to Couple League in classes, and the Creighton Model, taught privately.

Keating said she’s working to expand the number of teaching couples so there’s one in every church or region of the diocese.

“Whenever you teach it, it grows,” she said.

In 2012, there were about 1,700 weddings in the archdiocese and most couples were taught by the Couple to Couple League and others by the Creighton Model FertilityCare System, also an NFP organization.

Currently, there are 34 couples teaching the sympto-thermal method—15 in Spanish and one in Vietnamese—and 18 teaching the Creighton Model—two of which teach in northern Colorado.

Her mission is to expand the options available to couples so all have a chance to better understand and respond to their fertility.

With a pastor’s approval, couples unable to access classes may learn online. But over time, Keating aims to have more options available to couples through live virtual classes. She’s also organizing traveling couples who will go to the Eastern Plains and Western Slope to teach in Spanish and English.

Part of the plan is to reach out to the Hispanic community. In partnership with Viviana Martinez, coordinator of Hispanic Family Ministry, the two women have joined to develop a cross-cultural approach to marriage enrichment for inner-city and rural communities with Hispanics.

In January, the archdiocese held the largest-ever marriage-prep training days for mentoring couples. It was part of a larger effort to better prepare engaged couples for holy matrimony.

Keating and her office is also strengthening its ties with the medical community, particularly local physicians who are trained in NFP.

Several local faithful are also launching classes that explain the religious, historical and scientific aspects of contraception and NFP—classes meant for engaged and marriage couples or those entering the Church. Another has begun a class that coaches women on the connections between health, fertility and nutrition.

Keating says the secular world gives a very different message about sexuality.

“I think our culture says that sex is for pleasure and that intimate part of the relationship is very different in the Catholic world,” Keating said. “It is for marital bonding, it is for that closeness and representing the sacrament. It’s about giving ourselves fully to our spouses and not holding back.”

To learn more about NFP and connect with Keating, visit the Office of Evangelization and Family Life Ministries at www.archden.org.

Natural Family Planning
Contact NFP, family and marriage specialist Carrie Keating for more information.
Phone: 303-715-3259
Email: carrie.keating@archden.org
Online: www.archden.org and search for Office of Evangelization and Family Life

Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal
Through the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal, nearly 40 archdiocesan ministries are supported by donations to the annual campaign. Donations fund ministries created to catechize school students, educate seminarians, provide food and shelter to the impoverished, lead the wayward back to the Church and communicate the Gospel message.

Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila chose this year’s theme “Go, therefore, and make disciples” (Matt 28:19) to encourage faithful to re-evaluate their roles in making disciples. He said everyone can be disciples for Christ, either directly or indirectly. Gifts to the appeal is one way faithful can help make disciples for Christ.

To make a donation, call 303-715-3111 or visit www.archden.org/donate. Donations are also accepted by mail delivered to 1300 S. Steele St., Denver, CO 80210.

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NFP ‘a gem’ to couple

The Bogumills say their marriage is as strong and fresh as it was when they first got married nearly 15 years ago.

And natural family planning has a lot to do with it, they said.

“We’ve been given this gift of NFP that has been such a big factor in the strengthening of our marriage,” said John Bogumill, 49, of he and his wife, Theresa. “It’s been a gem in our marriage.”

The natural way to chart a woman’s visible signs of fertility has been a gift they want to share with others. This month, the Church of the Risen Christ parishioners are giving back by volunteering to teach engaged couples about NFP at Queen of Peace Parish in Aurora.

“We always tell them we know this is a leap of faith,” John said about teaching couples. “It’s a scary leap of faith for couples to go counter to what the culture is telling them.”

But NFP is effective, doesn’t carry health risks for women, and increases communication between couples, they said.

It’s also helped Theresa in understanding her cycle. Without NFP she wouldn’t have known about a time when she had low levels of progesterone, which would have caused her to lose her first child. With this awareness, Theresa said she rushed to the hospital to get a progesterone shot. Her son’s life was saved.

“I just can’t imagine my life without my son,” she said. “God gave me the knowledge to know that I need to take care of my body.”

COMING UP: From the wilderness to the Promised Land: Learn your faith in the SJV Lay Division

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One of the famous episodes in the Old Testament is the wandering of Israel in the wilderness. The descendants of Abraham, whom God promised land to come to his descendants, wander for 40 years before they enter that land. A time of great miracles, to be certain – the manna in the wilderness, the rock that gushed forth water. But also a time of hardship and death – many battles that were lost, plagues that come up on the people. All of which is why the wilderness is associated with a time of great testing in the Scriptures.

We may seem like we are in our own wilderness today, aimlessly wandering without a sense of where life is going. Know that we, too, at the Lay Division of the Seminary, particularly our Biblical and Catechetical School instructors, intimately felt this great testing this past academic year. For the first time ever, we had classes online, by sheer force of circumstance in a world of coronavirus restrictions. In many ways, we felt our own desert wondering – unable to see students in person, unable to have normal interactions with students, lecturing to a little dot on a computer screen, seeing black screens with everybody muted, with no idea if students were smiling, laughing, crying, sleeping, or whatever else may be! This was, in many respects, wandering in the wilderness institutionally. Thankfully, the one thing that we can say for certain is that all of our lives fall under God’s infinitely wise, lovingly providential hand. It’s not merely cliché to say that God will bring good out of evil, but a true statement. And so we trust. God knows, and God takes care of all those who are faithful. And God works all things for good for those who trust in Him.

This upcoming academic year will be the start of a slow reintegration of our classes into parishes. However, we will still keep an online presence, with half of our classes returning to in-person locations throughout the Archdiocese of Denver and half remaining online. Certainly one of the positives about teaching classes online, and perhaps the good that God will bring for us institutionally out of our wilderness of this past year, is that it allows for expansion to reach potential students who otherwise aren’t capable of attending our in-person classes. Given that, taking a class with us will never be easier! It doesn’t matter what part of Colorado you live in — you can take a class online with us!

If you’ve never heard of who we are, then let me briefly introduce our institution: we are the Lay Division at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary for the Archdiocese of Denver. This makes our seminary unique: not just the formation of future clerics, but also a division dedicated to the formation of the laity. Our mission is to put people in contact and communion with Jesus, who alone leads us to the heart of the Father in the Spirit. We do this through various offerings which study God’s call to each and every person to have a personal relationship with him in the Church that he established with the Precious Blood of Jesus. Our two flagship programs are the Denver Catholic Biblical School, a four year study of the Sacred Scriptures, and the Denver Catholic Catechetical School, a two year study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. We also offer various other programs of study – year long “Enrichment Courses” in different topics of the faith, short courses throughout the year, lecture series throughout the liturgical seasons, and day-long workshops. Wherever you’re at in your faith, we have something for everybody!

Classes for this upcoming year begin on Monday, Sept. 13. Visit sjvlaydivision.org to see all of the options for classes, locations/online times, information sessions, and to register. Make the choice to study with us to learn your faith and come to know and love Jesus Christ!