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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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Sydney

Fertility Awareness — more than just charting

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I have discovered during my years of ministry that raising the topic of Natural Family Planning or Natural Fertility Awareness (NFA) in a Catholic audience is not guaranteed to garner a uniform response. Fear, mockery, apathy, defensiveness and condemnation are all equally likely to rise, evidencing in some cases, large gaps in people’s understanding of fertility awareness and the Church’s teaching on marital intimacy.

While the Church’s teaching on marriage has remained consistent throughout time, fertility awareness developed significantly in the past 50 years. For example, it was only this year that we had Marquette Method educators in Australia – bringing the total amount of methods available in Sydney up to four.

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The Life, Marriage and Family team was recently invited by the Office of the Permanent Diaconate to present to permanent deacons, aspirants to the diaconate, and their wives on this important topic, as part of their ongoing formation. The presentation facilitated a space for formation and honest sharing about pastoral issues in their ministry.

Deacon John Ting from St Benedict’s Broadway said “The world hasn’t realised that the fertility awareness conversation is holistic. It’s not just about ‘what method you use’ or ‘how can we avoid having children?’ as often people lose sight of the humanity in family planning conversation. The presentation from the Life Marriage and Family team really stressed that NFA was crucial in marriage for developing a deeper relationship with each other as spouse and friend. It made me aware we should talk with engaged couples about this prior to marriage, we can’t just rely on online programs to do all the work.”

Deacon Christopher from St Joseph’s Belmore who also attended the session on Saturday added “In the past the methods of natural fertility awareness were not always marketed together. It is refreshing to know the church offers our young couples the opportunity to consider various methods of fertility awareness and choose which suits them best.”

The Achi family also joined us during the presentation to share their story and answer questions. As a couple who only began to use natural fertility awareness after their marriage Bianca and Maroun shared “both husband and wife need to be on the same page on why they are choosing natural fertility awareness… otherwise it becomes very difficult.

“It’s not easy, especially if you haven’t used it in your relationship before, but it draws you so much closer together as a couple and increases your trust in God.”

While many convincing arguments can be made for NFA from a scientific point of view, I believe the testimony of authentic witnesses is far more crucial to help engaged and married couples say “yes” to God’s plan for marital intimacy in this cultural climate.

The Life, Marriage and Family team can provide formation on NFA in the context of pastoral care and marriage ministry for your parish and connect you with educators who can provide local education sessions. Contact [email protected] or visit their website to find out more.

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