Archive for the ‘Priests & Parishes’ Category

Natural Family Planning Classes: Packed in the 70s; low today. What happened?

Sunday, July 15th, 2018

John and I taught natural family planning to over 100 couples a month when we first moved to Cincinnati in the early 70s.  How was this accomplished?  We taught Class #1 each week for one month, but in four different parishes.   Next month we would go back to the same parishes (teaching again once a week each week) but this time we taught the #2 Class.  Next month we were back to the same classes and teaching the #3 Class, etc.  We had 50, 60, 70 or more persons attending those classes.

Today we are happy when we have 2 or 5 couples to teach at the classes.  We teach more engaged couples through our Home Study Course.

What are the differences between then and now?

In the early 1970s, this is what we experienced.

  • The couples were married.
  • The couples were not required to be there.
  • The couples wanted to learn NFP. They had been properly catechized and followed Church teaching.
  • Because the couples were married, they were encouraged to bring their babies to class.
  • A simple church bulletin announcement produced the registrations for the classes.

Today, almost all the student couples are engaged and are required to be at an NFP class or take the course online as part of their marriage preparation.  A simple church bulletin announcement today typically produces no tangible results.  You need to have a priest or deacon recommend your classes.  If a bishop, priest or deacon does not recommend your classes, then the NFP teacher may have no one to teach.  Also, some or many of these couples do not follow Church teaching regarding chastity.  Thus, we are very happy when couples comment on how much they learned taking our course, especially when they indicate an improvement in their spiritual lives.

Personal history:  I was 7 months pregnant when we moved to Cincinnati and soon had our 4th baby.  We did not leave our babies at home to teach the classes.  We simply took our 4th and later our 5th baby to the NFP classes for their first 2 years.  If the baby needed to nurse, John kept teaching while I took a nursing break.  We had little promotion for our classes which were well attended.  We taught once a week as mentioned above.

In the 70s, on a weekend, we taught natural family planning to 100 couples at a retreat center near our city.  Could we do that today?   It would be almost a miracle if that happened today.

What we taught in those days is what we teach today:  the theology of the marriage covenant, the various options of the sympto-thermal method, and ecological breastfeeding.  Our teaching has not changed…just the Church and social environments.

Sheila Kippley

Humanae Vitae and the Dissenters

Sunday, June 24th, 2018

The dissent position can’t say NO to any imaginable sexual activity between two consenting adults.

My impression is that the primary criticism of the dissent position and positive support of Humanae Vitae has come from the laity.  I’m thinking of people such as Germain Grisez, Mary and Robert Joyce, William E. May, Ralph McInerney, and Janet Smith over the years.  More recently we have seen good things from Mary Eberstadt and George Weigel and others.  Then there are all the leaders in the natural family planning movement.  Sheila and I have had our part in this effort, both theological and practical with publications and other efforts, starting before Humanae Vitae.  And, of course, all of laity who have been public in our support for HV have also been supported intellectually, spiritually and emotionally supported by believing Catholic priests.

Germany plays a special role in all of this.  It was in a German medical journal in February of 1930 that the article of Kyusaku Ogino was published concerning the fertile time and explaining his calculations of the infertile time—the beginnings of Calendar Rhythm.  When folks properly understood it, they could practice it with great effectiveness.  Our landlord in 1964 told us that he and his wife had practiced the Ogino-Knaus method with 100% effectiveness and only three children in the Thirties and Forties.  I have long wondered if the Anglicans were informed about it in 1930.  About six months after its publication, the offered only two options for couples who did not want more children: either complete abstinence or contraception.  Sad.

It was also in Germany that a Catholic priest in the early thirties put together the rhythm calculations with medical information about a post-ovulation temperature shift to give birth to the more effective Calendar-Temperature system.

In 1967, just after the conclusion of the initial birth control commission documents but before Humanae Vitae, the study of Dr. G. K. Doering was published in a German medical journal.  It showed a 99% percent level of effectiveness among those who followed the post-ovulation rules of his temperature-only system, and a 97% effectiveness among those couples who also engaged in the marriage act during the time of pre-ovulation infertility and some who had relations at the most fertile time.  We have that study at the NFPI website.  My question:  is it possible that the German bishops were completely ignorant about this ground-breaking 1967 study?  Did they then share that information with Pope Paul VI?  Or were they so moved by the already widespread contraceptive mentality of the mid-Sixties that they did not so inform the Pope?

John Kippley
NFPI President and Volunteer


Natural Family Planning with the Home Study Course

Sunday, March 25th, 2018

Below are comments from couples who have recently completed the home study course this year.

I am quite busy this time of year (college, wedding planning, graduate school applications, and moving!)  Thank you for leading me to the correct answer. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to complete this course; I am learning so much information that I have never been taught!

I learned more about my body than I ever knew before.  This type of information was not shared in my home or at school.  I had no idea how anything worked, and it actually brought me comfort to know things I was experiencing were normal (mucus).  I had heard of natural family planning once before but did not receive many details, so I was interested in learning more.  Learning that this method can be as effective as unnatural contraception, which is the method I was typically told to use – especially by my University, opened my eyes to this as a viable method of birth regulation (with a sufficiently serious reason of course.  Additionally, the line from Mrs. A struck me.  She stated there was nothing between them when taking part in the marriage act.  This caught my attention and made me think about how the marriage act cannot be truly an act of oneness with my spouse if there was something physically in between us (like a condom).  Finally, the ecological breastfeeding chapter provided me with knowledge and support for my own ideals of breastfeeding.  I especially enjoyed the comfort and connectedness part of it, as well as a viable option not to use a pacifier, which was a habit I had trouble getting away from as a child.

Did you gain new knowledge or benefit from taking this course? Yes! It was filled with very detailed information which will be so valuable going forward. Thank you!

We gained new knowledge in how natural family planning works and how it can benefit our relationship and our future children.

Thank you for all your patience with the technical difficulties and for all your work. This course has enriched our relationship with each other and with God.
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Information on taking the NFPI Home Study Course is available at the home page of  Working with these couples as a volunteer is truly a rewarding experience..

Sheila Kippley
PS: My husband, John, is giving talks about Humanae Vitae this year to interested parishes, seminaries, and schools.  For information, contact him at