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CCL Conference celebrates Humanae Vitae anniversary

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The Couple to Couple League’s conference for families at the Sharonville Convention Center July 6 and 7 welcomed children of all ages. (CT Photo/Gail Finke)

By Gail Finke

Hundreds of people traveled from across the country to Cincinnati, many with large families in tow, for the Couple to Couple League’s conference on the 50thanniversary of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical on birth control.

Now lauded as prophetic by many conservatives and social scientists, the encyclical titled Humanae Vitae (“Of Human Life”) reaffirmed the church’s teaching that birth control is immoral, and predicted that a society that embraces birth control will be plagued by divorce, abandonment, extra- and pre-marital sex, and the cheapening of all human relationships.

Founded in 1971 and headquartered in Cincinnati, the Couple to Couple League (CCL) teaches and promotes the Sympto-Thermal method of Natural Family Planning (NFP). Unlike the less effective “Rhythm method,” the Sympto-Thermal method uses body temperature and other physical signs to track when a woman is fertile. The method costs nothing, and uses no drugs. CCL says it is more effective than any form of contraception except sterilization, promotes married and family life, and often leads to couples choosing to have large families as they come to view openness to life as part of married life.

“Families, become what you are!” was held at the Sharonville Convention Center and featured talks by Father Nathan Cromly, Christopher West, Damon Owens, and Janet Smith, as well as workshops by local and national speakers, including Bishop Donald Hying of Gary, Indiana, and Bishop Michael Sheridan of St. Louis.

Bishop Sheridan and Covington Bishop Roger Foys celebrated morning Masses, and Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr presided at closing Mass.

While the convention included a track for children, toddlers and babes in arms accompanied their parents to talks and workshops, playing busily in the back of each room while their parents watched and listened.

“It’s great to see so many beautiful families,” said Amber Day, a St. Gertrude parishioner who was able to nurse her 14-month-old daughter during the sessions. “It’ been a time of spiritual renewal for me and helps me see my marriage through a new lens.”

Michelle Melka and her husband drove from Maryland with their six children, two of whom accompanied them to classes. “I love it,” she said. “It’s been really inspirational.”

“I really appreciated the childcare,” said Sarah Hutchinson, who attends Holy Family Parish in Dayton. “It’s great to be here with other families, and that everyone at the talks is so accepting of the babies in the room.”

The keynote talks explored holiness in family life and how Humanae Vitae led to Theology of the Body — now leads to the New Evangelization. Speakers exhorted the participants to find God in their vocations as parents, spouses, and workers, while workshops delved into specific, day-to-day issues of marriage and family life, from how to raise sons to how to respond to “LGBT issues” posed by extended family members.

Stephanie Reisinger drove from Texas with her family. “It’s so great that we can bring our six children,” she said. “I’m so grateful for the childcare, because we needed this time so much.”

In the final talk of the day, Father Cromly told parents not to be afraid of a culture that seems bent on destroying families. “I’m amazed at how intimidated so many people are by the world around them,” he said. “We’ve got Almighty God and the Holy Spirit! Why would you be afraid of a world that has been conquered by the King of Kings?

“As Catholics, our job is not to be afraid of this world – our job is to save it.”

Families visit a booth for the Sisters of St. Joseph the Worker, baed in Walton, Kentucky. (CT photo/Gail Finke)
Father Nathan Cromly leads a workshop about how to raise sons to be chaste men. (CT photo/Gail Finke)
Standing room only praying the rosary. (CT photo/Gail Finke)
Father Nathan Cromly’s booth attracted many visits. (CT photo/Gail Finke)
Christopher West tells families to revisit the things they loved most as children discover how to touch their hearts today. (CT photo/Gail Finke)
Women of all ages crowd a worship on spirituality for Catholic women. (CT photo/Gail Finke)
Homeschooling parents pepper Ruah Woods representatives with questions about how their Theology of the Body school curriculum can be used in a homeschool. (CT photo/Gail Finke)
Damon Owns talks to parents about how to teach the faith to their children. (CT photo/Gail Finke)
CT Photo/Gail Finke
Archdiocesan priest Father Kyle Schnippel, who leads the area Courage program for people with same sex attraction, talks about how to love family members whose ask them to affirm and celebrate their choices. (CT photo/Gail Finke)
Dan Thimons, director of the archdiocese’s Family Life Office, talks about how to pray as a family. (CT photo/Gail Finke)
Servers wait for the closing Mass. (CT photo/Gail Finke)
Children crowd the chairs for closing Mass. (CT photo/Gail Finke)
A very young worshiper picked his own spot to kneel. (CT photo/Gail Finke)
Bishop Michael Sheridan (St. Louis), a member of CCL’s board of directors, taught a workshop about Humanae Vitae and Pope Francis’s letter “Amoris Laetitia,” as well as concelebrating the closing Mass. (CT photo/Gail Finke)
Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr assured parents that the lively sounds of chilled were welcome at Mass, and thanked them for their vocations to marriage and family life. (CT photo/Gail Finke)
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