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Natural Family Planning Awareness Week Q&A with Adriana Vasquez

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We sat down with Adriana Vasquez in honor of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Natural Family Planning Awareness Week. Adriana is the Managing Director of Marriage and Family Evangelization for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. She offers support and formation to parish leaders on the marriage catechumenate. She is a parishioner at St. Gertrude’s in Madeira, where she is active in the Natural Family Planning evangelization outreach.

What is NFP and why does the USCCB want us to be aware of it?
Natural Family Planning (NFP) is a powerful tool for married couples to learn how to monitor their reproductive health and either achieve or postpone pregnancy by practicing periodic abstinence. An NFP course teaches couples how to observe the signs of fertility and apply simple rules to space their children without using drugs or devices. A typical NFP course includes lesson time plus individual follow up sessions with a certified NFP instructor. Natural Family Planning (NFP) is It is not the rhythm method; it’s scientific. It is ideal for a young adult woman to learn how to observe and chart her fertility using Fertility Awareness Based Methods (FABM’s), and for engaged couples to take a full NFP course when they prepare for marriage. Married couples are encouraged to take a “refresher” course during postpartum for extra support navigating the return of fertility, and follow up with their certified NFP instructor with any questions as menopause approaches.

The U.S. Bishops strongly support diocesan NFP outreach because “[h]elping married couples to deepen conjugal love and achieve responsible parenthood is part of the Church’s total pastoral ministry to Catholic spouses. Fulfillment of this ministry includes both education and pastoral care.” (See https://www.usccb.org/topics/natural-family-planning). The education and pastoral care provided by dedicated NFP instructors can support new and creative evangelization efforts to bring Christ to the domestic church, the family. For example, NFP teachers can participate in diocesan and parish evangelization outreaches by providing workshops for fathers with their sons, and mothers with their daughters at the age of puberty on the gift of fertility and the beauty of our biology.

OK, but is NFP really that important?
Yes! NFP honors God’s plan for married love and the gift of children. In the words of St. John Paul II, “As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live.”

NFP is an affordable, natural way to tap into a woman’s fertility, have optimal health, increase the chance of conception, and space children with zero side effects. It is useful during all of the reproductive years, including postpartum and as a woman approaches menopause. Did you know that birth control has many negative side effects? To name a few: increased anxiety, increased depression, decreased libido, thrombosis, and an increase in certain cancers. NFP avoids all of these side effects, plus it promotes a deepened understanding of and reverence for a woman’s body and the shared gift of fertility.

NFP has many benefits for married couples. Divorce rates of couples using NFP are drastically below the societal average because NFP strengthens communication, intimacy, and a couple’s prayer life. If a married couple discerns the need to postpone pregnancy for a just reason, NFP is up to 99% effective. Morally speaking, NFP is a great way to be right with God by avoiding the serious sins of contraception or sterilization. For couples experiencing the cross of infertility, an NFP class can decrease the time trying to conceive, and an NFP chart can go a long way in diagnosing the cause of infertility and seeking out ethical healing options that do not separate the unitive and procreative dimensions of the marital act.

How does our archdiocese embrace and promote NFP?
The Marriage and Family Evangelization team supports parishes in their mission to draw families into communion with Christ within the marriage catechumenate, and is blessed to have David Ulmer, the Associate Director of Chastity and Natural Family Planning. Leading up to NFP Awareness Week, which is on July 24-30, 2022, each parish in the archdiocese received a beautiful promotional flyer created by the USCCB with this year’s theme, “Called to the Joy of Love,” and links to the USCCB’s website for a variety of English and Spanish digital resources and homily tips. During NFP Awareness week, two evangelization outreach opportunities are taking place in the greater Cincinnati and Dayton areas. In Cincinnati, St. Gertrude’s, a parish with five NFP instructors in four different NFP methods, will promote NFP at all the weekend Masses through personal testimony and sharing resources. In Dayton, Daniel Bejarano, MD MS NP & Liliana Cote de Bejarano, MD, MPH, CFCP will be offering a free Creighton Model introductory sessions in person and online. Interested individuals and couples should contact them to sign up at [email protected] or 937-414-9912.

If I wanted to learn more about NFP, what should I do?
For more information about the various NFP methods available in the archdiocese and for a list of upcoming courses, please visit the archdiocesan NFP page at https://www.centerforthenewevangelization.org/marriage-family/natural-family-planning or contact David Ulmer at [email protected] or 937-281-4121.

Is there anything I can do to take part in NFP awareness week?
We humbly ask for prayers for the efforts of the NFP community in the archdiocese, and for interested individuals to reach out to David Ulmer to learn how to become a parish NFP Ambassador.

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