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.
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.
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.”