Resources for Natural Family Planning in the Diocese of Syracuse

Submitted by the Office of Family and Respect Life Ministry

What is Natural Family Planning (NFP)? NFP is the general term for the scientific, natural, and moral methods of family planning that can help married couples achieve or postpone pregnancies. The methods of NFP are based on the observation of the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman’s menstrual cycle. When couples use NFP to avoid pregnancy, they abstain from intercourse during the fertile phase of the woman’s cycle, rather than use drugs or surgical procedures. NFP supports God’s design for married love as it is love-giving and life-giving. It reflects the dignity of the human person within the context of marriage and family life, promotes an openness to life, and recognizes the value of a child. (Find this information and more at usccb.org.)

July 25 marks the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, written by Blessed Pope Paul VI. Although it is arguably one of the most controversial encyclicals written, Blessed Pope Paul’s prophetic writings provide a beautiful and clear teaching about God’s plan for married love and the transmission of life. In celebration of Humanae Vitae’s golden anniversary, the Syracuse Diocese will be hosting a Natural Family Planning week July 22-28. We will be kicking off NFP week with a “splash” as we host regional events in Utica, Syracuse, and Binghamton at local splash parks. We will also be hosting our first Natural Family Planning Conference — Good for the Body, Great for the Soul! — on Saturday, July 28, at Holy Cross Church in DeWitt. Please check out our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/familyrespectlifesyracuse/ to register!

We are incredibly blessed to have a ministry devoted to Natural Family Planning within our diocese. As a part of our Family and Respect Life Office, director Lisa Hall supervises three NFP Regional Coordinators: Morgan Durfee in the Syracuse region, Nina Ranieri in the Eastern region, and Maria Montreuil in the Southern region. We encourage you to visit our new website, www.syracusenfp.org, to learn more about NFP and how it can benefit you and your family.

 

Meet the NFP coordinators

Morgan Durfee, Syracuse region coordinator

I am coming up on my first anniversary of marriage to Daniel Durfee. We have three children in heaven due to miscarriage — Jeremiah, Lily and Rose (twins) — and work to adopt spiritual children, especially during this time without children with us physically here on earth.

What made you think NFP was right for you and your family? Did you use tracking to monitor your health before you were married?

I started tracking my cycle before marriage as I was curious to learn more about how it worked and had heard that it was good for women’s health. I was amazed by it in many ways! One was that I was able to find out that I have low progesterone and work with my doctor and my body to counteract that deficiency before I was even married! My husband and I are excited to have children, but recognize that there could be situations, like some we have already encountered, when it would not be the best time for us to conceive a child. We see NFP as the best way to protect life and give ourselves to each other in a free, total, faithful, and fruitful way as God designed true love to be. It is beautiful because at the end of the day, God is always the one at the head of our family.

What do you want people to know about NFP?

I think it is important for people to know that NFP is scientifically backed and works, as well as strengthens marriages. I am a better person and a better wife because of it! 

What do you enjoy/value most about NFP ministry?

I enjoy getting to share the beauty of the feminine cycle and NFP with others — I think it is one of the “best kept secrets” of the Catholic Church that often doesn’t get enough attention. I love that it connects me to individuals and couples who have similar values and creates a platform for me to hear their stories. I am also so saddened by our recent loss, but am so thankful to bring hope and healing to other couples who unfortunately go through similar suffering of pregnancy and infant loss.

 

Nina Ranieri, Eastern region coordinator

My husband Mark and I will be celebrating our ninth wedding anniversary this month. We have four living children, Olivia, Marky, Juliana, and Dominick; one son in heaven, Vincenzo Louis; and are expecting a little boy in December.

What made you think NFP was right for you and your family? Did you use tracking to monitor your health before you were married?

Mark and I learned about NFP during our marriage preparation classes. Everything about NFP made sense to us. Not only was is it a natural approach to fertility, but it empowered me to learn more about my own body. Prior to learning about NFP, I was placed on hormonal birth control in order to help with a medical condition. I never knew the side effects of hormonal birth control and how it was being used as a “Band-Aid” rather than helping me get to the root of my concern. I started experiencing more issues related to being on birth control and knew my body was being affected in a negative way. That is when, despite being told by medical professionals that my side effects were “normal,” I chose to discontinue its use.

What do you want people to know about NFP?

What I would like people to know about NFP is that it is NOT the rhythm method! NFP is tailored to each woman’s cycle. Although there is some learning required, once you begin to practice NFP and become familiar with your cycles, NFP is not difficult to do. NFP allows for open communication between a husband and wife on a daily basis. And through this communication, NFP helps to deepen and strengthen the bonds of holy matrimony. The best part about NFP is that it opens your heart to new life!

What do you enjoy/value most about NFP ministry?

Connecting with other women and couples who are either interested in learning more about NFP or who are currently practicing NFP. I am very excited for our upcoming regional events, as I think these will further develop the NFP community throughout the Syracuse Diocese.

 

Maria Montreuil, Southern region coordinator

I just celebrated the seventh year of marriage to my husband, Drew, on the 2nd of July! We have three kids here on earth — Peter (5), Joseph (3), and Todd (almost 9 months) — and little Gerard Michael in heaven, whom we miscarried at around eight weeks.

What made you think NFP was right for you and your family? Did you use tracking to monitor your health before you were married?

We felt NFP was right for our family because we really wanted to follow Church teaching and also needed some space between my kids. After my second was born, I am pretty sure I had PTSD, although I was never formally diagnosed, which was pretty difficult. I ended up cracking a rib, so for a time there, avoiding a pregnancy was pretty critical with all the X-rays I had to do. Also, no artificial birth control is without its drawbacks. I know people personally who have had side effects like depression from being on the pill, and that is not something we wanted to sign up for. NFP works WITH your body, not against it.  

What do you want people to know about NFP?

It’s not always easy, but anyone can learn NFP! NFP is NOT the “rhythm method” many doctors have a tendency to laugh about. It’s actually come a long, long way since then and is very scientific. There are various methods of NFP one can use; Billings, Creighton, Sympto-Thermal, and Marquette are among the most common. Each has a different protocol with very, very good success rates. If you learn one method and things change in your life and you think another method may be more suited to you for your circumstance and time, it’s okay to swap!

What do you enjoy/value most about NFP ministry?

I think it’s great that word about NFP and its effectiveness is getting out there. In a world where so many doctors seem to push contraceptives even if that’s not why you are seeing them it can be frustrating thinking one doesn’t have much of a choice. But you DO! And I want to help couples to see that, as NFP doesn’t get much of a voice mainstream. I’d really love to see that change.