A number of central issues impact diocesan NFP programming including questions about increasing NFP acceptance among the faithful, recruitment of NFP teachers, and outreach education to clergy and Catholic healthcare professionals. The menu below lists these topics.

We welcome your suggestions for additional topics and authors.

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Topics & Resources

Requirement of NFP Education in Diocesan Marriage Preparation

Among the most frequently discussed issues is whether a bishop ought to require engaged couples to take a complete course of NFP as part of marriage preparation. We begin with this critical issue since it represents a strong pastoral strategy that can foster awareness of NFP methods and more importantly, God's plan for married love. Subsequent issues follow in alphabetical order.

Distance Learning

Healthcare Professionals, NFP, and Church Teaching

Legal Issues in Diocesan NFP Programming

NFP Awareness Week

Recruitment of NFP Teachers

Support for Diocesan NFP Ministry

Volunteers

 


 


Requirement of NFP Education
in Marriage Preparation

Report: Requiring a Full Course of Natural Family Planning Instruction in Marriage Preparation

This report provides a summary of how several dioceses created a strategy to implement the requirement of NFP education as part of marriage preparation. The lessons learned by these diocesan NFP coordinators are useful for others who are faced with a similar task.

  • Update: 2008-2014 This report takes up where the above report ends. It provides information on the topic of requiring NFP education in marriage preparation from nine dioceses.
     
  • 2016 Diocese of Wichita Requires NFP Education in Marriage Preparation This brief article describes the process that was used to design and implement the requirement of a course of a method of NFP in marriage preparation in the Diocese of Wichita.
     
  • An example of requiring NFP education in marriage preparation can be viewed at the Diocese of Phoenix's website:
    • Vision and Teaching Vision and Teaching (2009) of the Diocese of Phoenix's NFP education and marriage preparation policy by Bishop Thomas Olmsted.
    • Marriage Preparation Policy (2009).
    • NFP: Ready Now. an implementation plan for adding a Natural Family Planning requirement to marriage preparation (2009) by Cindy Leonard (2009). Mrs. Leonard was the diocesan NFP coordinator who assisted Bishop Olmsted in creating the NFP and marriage preparation policy.
    • "Find us Ready," website page provides the overview of resources to implement the diocesan marriage preparation and NFP education policy (Note: some parts of this page are original to 2009).
    • "Covenant of Love" website page (2020) on marriage preparation and NFP education that highlights a unified approach to this pastoral education.

Crafting a Strategy for Requirement of NFP Education in Marriage Preparation

After reading the above report, it is useful to hear from the diocesan staff who have participated in the development and implementation of a strategy for requiring NFP education in marriage preparation programs. This three hour audio presentation is from the 2013 annual conference of the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers (NACFLM).

The panel begins with a discussion on the canonical aspects of marriage preparation (45 minutes). The discussion then turns to how the requirement of NFP education was created and implemented in two different dioceses. The panel concludes with a dialogue between the panelists and participants. The participants included diocesan marriage and family life directors as well as diocesan NFP coordinators.

Panelists: Rev. Robert R. Cannon, MA, MEd, MTh, JCL, Diocese of Venice; Cindy Leonard, NFP Coordinator, Diocese of Phoenix; and Rachelle Sauvageau, Diocese of Fargo.
The MC is Theresa Notare, PhD, Assistant Director, NFP Program, Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, USCCB.

Note: this audio file is here for your use with the permission of Catholic Seminars. If you would like to purchase this file and view other files available from the 2013 NACFLM conference, contact: www.catholicseminars.com.

Want to listen in on a consultation that happened between a diocesan NFP coordinator who is exploring how to develop a strategy for requiring NFP in marriage prep. and one who already created a successful program? Watch this episode of NFP Conversation!

Not ready to implement an NFP class requirement for marriage preparation? Read about this simple strategy to increase NFP class attendance through your marriage preparation programs.
 


Distance Learning and NFP Education

Distance or virtual learning has made many advances in recent years. Self-paced programs and curriculum (hard-copy and mailed to the student or delivered through the Internet), interactive and live on the web, or a combination of formats can be found available in most subject areas, disciplines, and professions. With diverse avenues of learning available, diocesan NFP coordinators may find that their potential NFP students (clients and teacher candidates) will expect to have a choice among in-person and virtual to learn their NFP method.

Despite this activity and expectation, many diocesan NFP coordinators remain committed to in-person NFP education and might be hesitant about distance or virtual NFP education.They may wonder whether distance or virtual NFP education can effectively provide the power of witness and personal care that their students need.This concern is not unfounded, not all distant or virtual NFP education is the same.To know the difference, it is important for the diocesan NFP coordinator to review the programs that may be suitable for their dioceses.

To help diocesan NFP coordinators assess whether a particular distance learning or virtual NFP program is effective and suitable for their particular diocese, the list below can be used as a tool of review. This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but offers some basics to consider. Following the list are additional resources.

Strong elements to look for in distance or virtual NFP education

  • The content is written for the target audience
    NFP method instruction should be accessible for its target audience. For example, a lesson on the general NFP science and methodology should be understandable for the average lay person--if the audience is the average person! If it is written for healthcare professionals, then it is serving a more technically prepared audience.
     
  • The curriculum includes a table of contents and individual lessons include an outline of content covered (goals and objectives)
    An outline of the curriculum's content demonstrates what is included in the education program. This applies even to a virtual program because the adult student should be told what will be covered in the training. Goals and objectives for each class are also another sign of a well-organized curriculum.
     
  • Downloadable curriculum manual (with all lessons included) and/or workbook, and handouts are provided
    The adult NFP student will need to be able to access the information learned after formal lessons are completed. A student curriculum manual and/or workbook as well as individual handouts facilitate this learning. These resources are staples of strong educational programs.
     
  • Appropriate student evaluations (tests)
    Most students do not like tests, however formal evaluation is an effective way in which a student's understanding of the content presented can be objectively evaluated. This is especially important for the NFP teacher candidate. In fact, part of the necessary evaluation of an NFP teacher candidate is the Supervised Practicum. It is a way to assess how the teacher applies the information learned in the NFP class.
     
  • Reliable follow-up is provided
    NFP students who learn virtually need to know how to contact the teacher or an NFP expert from the NFP organization to answer questions. This can be done in many ways including providing a policy for scheduling times for follow-up.
     
  • NFP mentors and/or coaches are available
    For those NFP students who would like on-going help, access to an NFP mentor or coach is a real plus to living, and for NFP teachers, "working," the NFP lifestyle. NFP programs which offer this assistance are going the "extra mile" to ensure that the students grow in their understanding of NFP and Church teaching which supports its use in marriage!
     
  • NFP witness talks by NFP users and professionals (e.g., physicians) are provided
    Besides the facts of NFP science and methodology, the "spirit" and "why" of NFP needs to be shared by witnesses (couples, healthcare professionals, and others). Witnesses are people whose lives have been helped by embracing God's plan for married love and the gift of life and the methods of NFP. Recorded videos are a staple of this content in distance and virtual NFP education. In addition, when a program provides live virtual witnesses, NFP students can interact with them. This can be life changing for the good!
     
  • Church teaching providing the "Why" of NFP is part of the curriculum
    The best of NFP education in the diocese integrates Church teaching as the "Why" of NFP. Many NFP providers include this content in their instruction of both the teacher and the client. If the provider does not have this content, the diocesan NFP coordinator will need to ensure that the education is provided. It may prove an opportunity to collaborate with an NFP provider to produce the additional content.

Resources

List of NFP providers who offer distance and virtual education.

The Couple to Couple League International has been providing virtual NFP education for a long time. View their report on their experience with virtual NFP education. View a discussion of this topic with Katie Zulanas, CCLI Executive Director during the monthly meeting with diocesan NFP coordinators in NFP Office Hours (November 10, 2021).

NFP E-Learning Workshop (2013)--National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers (NACFLM).
This three hour audio presentation treats the topic of NFP e-learning for couples/clients. each NFP provider discuss the format of his/her on-line education and how couples respondED to it. Questions from the audience are also included.

Panelists: Maria Garcia, NFP coordinator, Archdiocese of Chicago (e-introduction to NFP and the Billings Method); Michael Manhart, Ph.D., Executive Director, Couple to Couple League International (STM); Richard Fehring, Ph.D., RN, Director, NFP Institute, Marquette University, College of Nursing (Marquette Method, Sympto-Hormonal); Jessica Schaefer, Sympto-Pro Fertility Education Instructor, Northwest Family Services (STM). The MC is Theresa Notare, Ph.D., Assistant Director, NFP Program, Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, USCCB.

Note: this audio file is here for your use with the permission of Catholic Seminars. If you would like to purchase this file and view other files available from the 2013 NACFLM conference, contact: www.catholicseminars.com.

 


Healthcare Professionals, NFP,
and Church Teaching

Please be patient with us as we develop this section.

See our page on Catholic healthcare professionals for resources to use in your NFP outreach education to healthcare professionals.

 


Legal Issues in NFP

Legal Issues in NFP 
Thomas J. Prebil 
In this classic article from the out of print publication, The International Review of NFP, attorney, Thomas Prebil directly addresses significant legal concerns, such as the crucial steps to take in order to avoid a lawsuit, and the necessary action of an NFP teacher, should a lawsuit arise. He stresses the importance of NFP instructors taking detailed records and a personalized, professional relationship with every client.
 


Recruitment of NFP Teachers

Please be patient with us as we develop this section.




 


Support for Diocesan NFP Ministry

Generating Support for NFP,
Rev. Robert R. Cannon, MA, MTS, JCL. Published in the USCCB's NFP Diocesan Activity Report (1993). 
Fr. Cannon discusses several challenges and offers solutions for the diocesan NFP community. He addresses issues regarding clergy support, misinformation, and education, as well as finances. Fr. Cannon is a co-designer and the lead analyst of the USCCB's annual National Diocesan NFP Profile Survey.

 


Volunteers

Volunteers-Steady Signs of Hope in the Church,
Therese Bermpohl. Published in the USCCB's NFP Forum, Diocesan Activity Report (1996).
USCCB NFP staff, Ms. Bermpohl, shares powerful and motivating guidelines from Marlene Wilson's book, How to Mobilize Volunteers, as effective strategies for NFP Programs. She highlights the need to keep volunteers feeling welcomed, motivated, utilized, and part of the team.

 

 

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