August 12, 2022

2022 Fall Marriage Supplement

NFP courses in Spanish meet ‘great need’ and ‘build the culture of life in Spanish’

(En Espanol)

By Natalie Hoefer

Marriage logo from the United States Conference of Catholic BishopsUntil recently, central and southern Indiana were what Gabriela Ross called a “desert”—and it has nothing to do with a lack of rain.

She discovered the “desert” while looking for natural family planning (NFP) facilitators in the archdiocese who could instruct in Spanish.

“There were only three,” said Ross, director of the archdiocesan Office of Marriage and Family Life. “And there was only one other, maybe two, in the rest of the state.

“We called other dioceses, and they had a great need for NFP instructors in Spanish, too. There was a Spanish NFP desert.”

Online courses were available in Spanish, said Claudia Corona, who works as coordinator for Ross’ office.

“But Hispanic couples maybe don’t have computers, or they work a lot and aren’t available when the classes are offered,” she said.

Corona also noted a lack of knowledge about NFP among Hispanic Catholics.

“It is not preached in homilies, so many Hispanic Catholics don’t know what it is, how it works, what the Church teaches about it,” she said.

“All they mostly know is contraception and sterilization. Doctors push the [birth control] pill on [women], and then when they reach a certain age or have so many children, doctors push getting a hysterectomy.”

New statistics support the need for Spanish-speaking NFP instructors, said Ross. She cited a recent study that identified Indianapolis as having the second fastest-growing population of Hispanic Catholics in the episcopal region of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.

“To respond to the needs of the Church, we need to be more proactive,” she said. “And we’re not really being proactive, because [Hispanic Catholics] are already here.”

The needs of the Church also include Spanish natural family planning classes being available for Hispanic engaged couples.

“NFP is usually part of marriage preparation,” said Father Todd Goodson, pastor of Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood. “If we’re following the guidelines, it needs to be available in Spanish for Spanish-speaking engaged couples.”

Ross and Corona devised a plan to address the situation. The first step was to find Hispanic couples familiar with NFP who would be willing to teach others.

“We looked for couples who are not just comfortable presenting the information,” said Ross. “They have to have experience using NFP and they have to know what the Church teaches. They have to be living witnesses to the culture of life in marriage.”

Five couples were identified. They agreed to take a course through the Couple to Couple League (CCL) to become certified instructors of the sympto-thermal NFP method. They were certified in December 2021, and 12 more couples are currently enrolled in the CCL certification course to become Spanish NFP instructors in the archdiocese.

“These couples were already active in their parishes and in ministry,” said Ross. “They are leaders, and I give them credit for being missionaries in their parishes that [NFP] is what married love looks like, that it changed my life and my marriage, and we can help you.”

The first archdiocesan-sponsored Spanish-speaking NFP course was held at Our Lady of the Greenwood in April.

The couples were “very grateful” to learn about the sympto-thermal method in Spanish, said Corona.

“Comments on the evaluations said the course is well-organized, the topic was treated respectfully, the facilitators were kind and friendly, the instruction was clear,” she said.

Father Goodson agreed, noting that couples were “pleasantly surprised to find [NFP is] beneficial and helpful.”

A course consists of four weekly sessions, materials, a book, a thermometer, three personal sessions with the instructor and a one-year subscription for the CCL app. The cost is $75. The same course online in Spanish is currently $135.

“It is better to do the course in a group,” said Corona regarding the advantage of in-person sessions. “It is better to get to know other couples who are learning.

“And if they can’t find a class at a time that works for them, they can meet with an instructor one-on-one.”

A course has also been held at St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, and another will be offered at Our Lady of the Greenwood in October. Ross said her office is actively working with St. Joseph Parish in Shelbyville and St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus to make the course available.

“Our gaze is on the whole archdiocese, and I’m so excited to build the culture of life in Spanish,” said Ross. “But for now, we want to make sure we’re well-planted and able to support what we have, see how it goes and grow from there.”

Still, she encourages anyone interested in having their faith community offer an NFP course in Spanish to “ask their pastor and see if he can invite us to bring classes to the parish, and we can work to make that happen.”

Father Goodson is grateful that he and his brother priests now have a resource for Hispanic couples—engaged or married—to learn about NFP.

“It’s the Church’s teaching that married couples need to be open to life and not using contraception,” he said. “In a culture where contraception is accepted, these couples need to be informed on Church teaching so they can make the right decisions.”

It’s that same culture that makes the need for NFP so important, especially with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Ross observed.

“Abortion is at the forefront of the state, and we want to be part of that conversation in terms of NFP as an alternative to birth control,” she said.

“The thought of legislators is that if abortion is no longer available, then there’s a need to provide more access to birth control.

“Now is a very good time to talk about NFP in Indiana and in the Church. Now is a very good time to spread the word that we have NFP, that it’s accessible, and we have options in English and Spanish.

“We need to change the narrative, that it’s no longer a Spanish NFP desert here.”
 

(For more information on natural family planning, go to www.archindy.org/nfp or www.archindy.org/nfp-espanol. The next four-session NFP course in Spanish will be held at Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish, 335 S. Meridian St., in Greenwood, from 7-9:30 p.m. on Oct. 4, 11, 18 and 25. The cost is $75 per couple. To register, call or text Claudia Corona at 317-800-9306 or e-mail her at ccorona@archindy.org.)
 

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