Diocese's clergy, staff, laity are local resources on NFP
By Rose O’Connor | Correspondent
The Diocese of Trenton continues to be on the forefront of important issues in the Church, including preparing for National Family Planning Awareness Week, a national, educational campaign of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that this year runs from July 23-29.
Reflecting on this year’s theme, “Say ‘Yes’ to God’s Plan for Married Love,” Peg Hensler, associate director of marriage ministries and NFP for the Diocese, said, “This week brings to the forefront the wonderful benefits and the amazing science of Natural Family Planning.”
As defined by the USCCB, Natural Family Planning “is the general title for the scientific, natural and moral methods of family planning that can help married couples either achieve or postpone pregnancies.”
NFP methods are based on the observation of the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman’s menstrual cycle. No drugs, devices or surgical procedures are used to avoid pregnancy.
Hensler explained the growing popularity of NFP among married couples, saying it “has been embraced by so many communities because people recognize that it’s not only part of God’s plan for married life, but that it’s also natural; there are no artificial or steroidal hormones used.”
She acknowledged it isn’t always easy for married couples to use NFP.
“Even though there are apps to track fertility, and science has given us all these tools, it’s still challenging [since] there are periods of abstinence, but couples find they appreciate each other more. Sometimes people fail, but they come back and try again because it’s so worth it,” she shared. “It requires discipline and the practice of virtues such as self-control and patience. Eventually, the virtues become habit.”
In order to help married couples practice NFP, the Department of Evangelization and Family Life is compiling a resource book for parishes to be used with married couples and those preparing for the Sacrament of Matrimony.
The resource book will include information from the USCCB and the RCL Benziger Family Life program that has been implemented in schools and parish religious education programs.
The Diocese of Trenton also has two licensed providers of the Creighton Model FertilityCare System, which helps couples understand a woman’s menstrual cycle and use this information to plan a family.
Kait Mayer of St. Paul Parish, Princeton, and Arielle Kaminski of St. David the King Parish, West Windsor, are both certified in the Creighton Model and are resources in the Diocese for those looking for more information on NFP.
Kaminski is a certified Fertility Care Practitioner, having completed the first of her educational courses through Marguerite D’Youville Fertility Care Services, Darien, Conn., and serves on the diocesan Council for Natural Family Planning.
Kaminski said she and her then-fiancé learned about NFP during marriage preparation.
“I was not open to contraception,” she said. “We searched for NFP methods that would enable us to avoid pregnancy. Taking into account irregular cycles and our lifestyle, we decided that CrMS was the best option. I was also drawn by the fact that there were gynecologists trained in it. Validation from the medical field gave me additional confidence.”
Kaminski said she learned a lot about herself by monitoring and maintaining all aspects of her health.
“It was eye-opening to look at a chart and to see, on paper, how hormones can react to seemingly external factors,” she said. “CrMS can identify fertility, infertility, hormone imbalances, medical conditions and even some forms of cancer. It’s absolutely amazing.”
She also noted NFP’s impact on a healthy, God-centered marriage. “There is a reason we call it God’s plan for love. I believe it has also cultivated deeper communication between myself and my husband.”
Father Joel Wilson, parochial vicar in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton, wrote a homily that is included in the USCCB’s national campaign for NFP Awareness Week.
Father Wilson said he has often counseled couples on Natural Family Planning. “It asks the married couple to open their entire married life to God; to be trusting and not force his hand.”
In his homily being used for the USCCB campaign and being prepared for July 23, the beginning of NFP Awareness Week, he wrote, “When presented with the option, it is more prudent and wise to trust the teachings of the Church, built on the deep understanding of who we are created to be, rather than simply embrace the ever-changing winds of popular cultural notions. Modern science has a lot to offer and indeed, has given men and women the modern methods of Natural Family Planning. ... We must embrace God's plan for married love!"