A divine design: Natural Family Planning Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Mary C. Uhler, Catholic Herald staff   
Thursday, Jul. 16, 2009 -- 12:00 AM

MADISON -- “Marriage and Natural Family Planning . . . A Divine Design” is the theme of Natural Family Planning Awareness Week, being promoted July 19 to 25 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The aim of this week is to focus attention on Natural Family Planning (NFP) methods and Church teachings which support their use in marriage.

This year also concludes a year-long observance of the 40th anniversary of the papal encyclical, Humanae Vitae (issued July 25, 1968), which articulated Catholic beliefs about human sexuality, conjugal love, and responsible parenthood.

Natural Family Planning
classes in the diocese
MADISON -- Natural Family Planning (NFP) classes for the summer and fall are scheduled in the Diocese of Madison. While there is a fee for the classes, nobody will be turned away for inability to pay full amount. Make your decision based on the method that will best fit your family, instead of cost. Home study courses are also available. To register for any of the classes, contact Marie Lins at 608-821-3160 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it For more information, visit
Couple to Couple League — The sympto-thermal method of NFP will be taught by the couples of the Couple to Couple League in three different locations this fall. Cost is $135 and includes the three-class course, CCL membership, all materials, and an NFP-kit.
• Waunakee — Taught by Andy and Mary Fabian on Sundays, Aug. 23, Sept. 27, and Oct. 25, at St. John the Baptist Parish in Waunakee from 4 to 6:30 p.m.
• Bloomington — Taught by Doug and Rita White on Sundays, Oct. 4, Nov. 1, and Nov. 29, at St. Mary Parish in Bloomington from 6 to 8 p.m.
• Madison — Taught by Jeff and Erin Heller on Saturdays, Oct. 10, Nov. 14, and Dec. 12, at the Bishop O’Connor Center in Madison from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Creighton Intro Class — At Bishop O’Connor Center July 6, 21, Aug. 3, 18, Sept. 8, 15, Oct. 5, 20, Nov. 2, 17, Dec. 7 or 15 (follow-up sessions are private and scheduled with instructor). Cost: $55 with materials. Up to eight follow-ups: $30 each over one year.
Variety of resources

The U.S. bishops’ Web site offers a variety of resources on NFP Week found at, including liturgy and prayer ideas, articles, couples’ stories, and information on Church teachings.

The Web site says that Natural Family Planning is an umbrella term for certain methods used to achieve and avoid pregnancies. “These methods are based on 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.

“NFP reflects the dignity of the human person within the context of marriage and family life, promotes openness to life, and recognizes the value of the child. By respecting the love-giving and life-giving natures of marriage, NFP can enrich the bond between husband and wife,” says the information on the Web site.

Diocesan efforts growing

For the past two years, Jessica Smith has served as family planning coordinator for the Diocese of Madison under the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis (OEC). Smith left the position recently to move to Denver, Colo., with her husband John. The position she held has been eliminated due to diocesan budget cuts.

Smith commented  on her former position, “When I began as the family planning coordinator at the diocese, I really underestimated the importance of the work I was called to do. I saw it as a job. But when my husband, John, and I attended the God’s Plan facilitator training in 2007, we began to understand how many broken people and families were left in the wake of the sexual revolution and the enormous impact of Theology of the Body through the God’s Plan program and subsequently, through the NFP program.

“We realized people would struggle with the teachings and programs, but that struggle would ultimately bear much fruit. Jesus didn’t come to bring comfort and complacency; he came to bring love and truth. We owe it to Christ and the people of God to give them the fullness of truth and the healing they’ve been looking for,” said Smith.

“Jessica has really stirred up a lot of interest in Natural Family Planning,” said Andy Galvin, who has worked with Smith in the diocesan office and will be assuming some of her duties. “Jessica and her position have built momentum in our diocese and changed many hearts,” he said.

Smith added, “Pastors and parishioners of the diocese should be grateful to Bishop Morlino and Andy for taking such a bold stance on marriage. It is life-changing and on par with the best marriage programs in the country.

“If Andy and the OEC can do what they’ve done with one or two people, imagine the possibilities if a benefactor endowed the OEC for a fully staffed Family Life Office,” said Smith.

How people can help

“With the cuts we can’t replace Jessica, but there are many things people can do to continue her work,” said Galvin. He suggested people can help by:

• Becoming an NFP teacher to teach specific methods of NFP.

• Becoming a parish advocate for NFP. This means giving short presentations and witnessing to the practice of NFP.

• Talking to your parish priest about the importance of NFP and how you would like to hear it discussed from the pulpit.

For more information, contact Galvin at 608-821-4517 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or go to

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