The U.S. bishops have designated July 21-27 as national Natural Family Planning Awareness Week. The week coincides with the anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, “Humanae Vitae,” which articulates Catholic teaching about human sexuality, marital love and responsible parenthood.
This year’s theme is “Love, Naturally!”
The archdiocesan Office of Natural Family Planning provides information on five models of natural family planning, which are taught at numerous Catholic hospitals and at parishes. Those models include the Billings Ovulation Method, Creighton Model FertilityCare Services, Marquette Model, Couple to Couple and SymptoPro Fertility Education. To find an introductory session, visit archstl.org/natural-family-planning.
The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is an original gift from God to humanity. Although sin entered the world damaging the marital relationship, this gift was not lost but redeemed by Christ and raised to a sacrament (Ephesians 5:28-32 and Matthew 19:4-6). Sacred Scripture proclaims that God created humanity in “His image” as “male and female” (see Genesis 1:27). So unique is this relationship that the marital union makes of the husband and wife “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Procreation, Scripture teaches, is a gift from God (Genesis 1:28). When spouses conceive new life, they participate in the Lord God’s creative power.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes that NFP methods “respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them and favor the education of an authentic freedom” (CCC, 2370).
The Archdiocesan Office of Natural Family Planning also offers several ministries to assist those who experience infertility and hope to achieve a pregnancy as well as families seeking to grow through adoption. The Enkindle infertility counseling ministry offers free counseling sessions with a registered nurse and licensed counselor either in person or over the phone. Periodic support group meetings and events offer a community of support to couples.
An annual Infertility Support Mass at the Rigali Center is well attended by couples currently trying to conceive as well as “alumni” couples who come back every year to show support and solidarity through prayer. The Archbishop Robert J. Carlson Adoption Fund was founded in 2009 and provides grants each year to provide financial assistance to couples seeking adoption.
The office also has several programs for young people, including one on Theology of the Body for high school seniors, a mother-daughter tea, a father-son event and another program for teenage girls called “The Wonder of Eve,” which includes information on the design and function of the female body, including the reproductive system and menstrual cycles and how to track them naturally.
For more information on natural family planning, including locations where NFP is taught, call the Office of Natural Family Planning at (314) 997-7847 or visit