Hope and Healing for Infertile Couples
This month brings a new event designed to minister to couples suffering from infertility. On Oct. 16, the archdiocese will host its first St. Gerard Morning of Reflection for Infertile Couples at St. Ignatius Loyola Parish on the West Side of Cincinnati. The morning is made to lovingly receive couples having difficulty conceiving children, and extend hope and healing.
Adriana Vasquez is the Director of Marriage and Family for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Having witnessed a similar event in the Diocese of Phoenix, she was eager to bring this ministry to Ohio.
“The emphasis is turning to Christ in our darkest moments,” Vasquez said. “Who, aside from Christ, can accept and understand such burdens within us?”
One in six couples suffers with infertility, and its burden is often one of solemn silence. While the perceived mark of a Catholic family is its great size with many children in the pew, countless faithful couples present with none. Faithfully, these couples are open to life, even when that openness leads to miscarriage. Amid an understandably strong emphasis on family and fruitfulness, married couples enduring infertility experience a unique suffering that is not only physical, but cultural and deeply spiritual.
Those who struggle are in holy company. There is a growing number of lesser-known saints who suffered from inability to bear children, then experienced a uniquely great love as a result. For inspiration, Vasquez pointed to Elisabeth Lesseur, a wife whose diary revealed fervent prayer in the absence of children. After her passing, Elisabeth’s husband discovered her diary. He experienced a tremendous conversion from his beloved’s words, then became a Dominican priest.
“Despite what we may feel or think,” Vasquez offered, “Christ is there and He wants to be invited into those wounds.”
If you’re waiting for such an invitation, this is it.
Eager to foster this ministry, Father Earl Fernandes, pastor at St. Ignatius Loyola Parish, offered to host the Mass, and through his involvement, it grew into an entire event.
Father Fernandes’ connection with the Catholic Medical Association yielded a speaker for after Mass. Dr. Jason Mattingly will compassionately discuss medical causes of infertility. He is not only board-certified in family medicine, but also has special training in Natural Procreative (NaPro) Technology, an approach that monitors reproductive and gynecologic health in order to determine abnormalities in need of healing. Additionally, Kimberly Henkel, co-founder of Springs in the Desert Catholic fertility outreach, will speak to the more heartfelt aspects of infertility, along with two couples on the fertility journey.
The height of the morning, after the Holy Mass itself, will be time with a first class relic of St. Gerard, patron saint of preborn children, expectant mothers and childbirth.
The hope is to bring light and community to a place of dark isolation. The morning is free and welcomes anyone in the archdiocese.
This article appeared in the October edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click Here