(Editor’s note: This is the final installment of a series on the Diocese of Colorado Springs’ Office of Marriage and Family Life.)
COLORADO SPRINGS. As part of the marriage preparation requirements in the Diocese of Colorado Springs, each engaged couple must take a class in natural family planning (NFP).
One of the four options for fulfilling the requirement is training in the Creighton Model FertilityCare System. In Colorado Springs, Creighton Model classes are taught at St. Francis Medical Center by Kris Hardesty, who has been Certified FertilityCare practitioner for nearly 25 years. Classes are also offered at Ave Maria Parish in Parker.
According to the official Creighton website, creightonmodel.com, the Creighton Model FertilityCare System “relies upon the standardized observation and charting of biological markers that are essential to a woman’s health and fertility. These ‘biomarkers’ tell the couple when they are naturally fertile and infertile, allowing the couple to use the system to either achieve or to avoid pregnancy.” The model is named after Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, where it was first developed by Dr. Thomas Hilgers in 1976. In 1985, he founded the St. Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction, which now oversees the training and certification of the method’s practitioners.
Couples who have used the Creighton method say it offers several advantages over other methods of natural family planning.
One advantage is that it does not require the woman to take her temperature every morning, said Caroline G., who has been working with Hardesty since 2013. When she first got engaged, Caroline said she tried to teach herself the sympto-thermal method of monitoring her fertility, but doing shift work made recording her temperature difficult.
“NFP is quite tricky; you really need a teacher,” Caroline said.
She then contacted Hardesty, and both she and her fiancé Thomas — who was living in a different city at the time — participated in Creighton Model classes via videoconferencing. The couple said that the one-on-one coaching they received from Hardesty helped them to navigate the challenges of being separated due to military deployments.
“When we got married, we knew Thomas would be deploying within six months and wanted to avoid pregnancy,” Caroline said.
“It’s important for the man to be involved,” said Thomas. “I was very confident in the system. The Church in her wisdom says, ‘There are going to be times when you need to abstain.’ It’s better to set expectations and boundaries before marriage. It’s important to start with a foundation of respect.”
Caroline agreed, adding that their training in the Creighton method also helped when they were having their children.
“Having the husband participate doesn’t put the woman in the awkward position of being the gatekeeper,” she said. “He can ask questions and make good decisions. It also helps during the post-partum months.”
Father Timothy Corbley, former pastor of Our Lady of the Woods Parish in Woodland Park, said that in his work with engaged couples, he came to appreciate the Creighton Model.
“In talking to engaged couples, I would try to find out the stressors on them, and one of the burdens was economics. As a pastor, I became convinced that the Creighton method was superior. It was a source of grace in their spiritual lives.”
Marissa and Travis are a recently-married couple who also chose to take the Creighton Model class to fulfill the natural family planning requirement.
“We chose this method over other methods because it is backed by research and the classes took place at St. Francis Hospital, which we felt we could trust,” Marissa said.
“This course has improved our communication as a couple because it challenged us to discuss our individual desires regarding family planning and our future before marriage. The Creighton model encourages the couple to share responsibility and to have open and honest communication.”
The cost of the class and follow-up appointments are covered by many health insurance plans, Hardesty said.
“The full Creighton method class is a 13-month program,” Hardesty said. “The premarital class that fulfills the diocesan marriage-preparation requirement is an abbreviated class that a couple can finish in two-three months and costs $225.”
While Hardesty is working to put in place direct billing by the hospital, participants can usually submit receipts for reimbursement from their insurance company or health savings account, she said.
And those who have benefited from training in the method say it is worth the investment.
“One of the most important things that the Creighton Model has to offer is that it extends far beyond the mechanics of family planning,” said Marissa. “It is holistic in its approach and addresses the communication and intimacy of the couple in many aspects of marriage.”
For more information, contact Hardesty at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.diocs.org/offices/Marriage-And-Family-Life/Natural-Family-Planning.