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Feb. 10, 2019

Open to Life

By Dave Myers

Southwest Kansas Catholic

It may be one of the best kept secrets in the diocese, but if three women from southwest Kansas have their say, it will not be a secret for long.

Janeé Bernal, Diana Ramirez and Allison Ricke recently undertook the first of four intense training sessions to become Fertility Care Practitioners.

There are different methods of Natural Fertility Awareness, each offering a system for noting when the woman is most likely and least likely to become pregnant. Bernal, Ramirez and Ricke are studying the Creighton Model, developed by Dr. Thomas Hilgers, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Omaha.

While their training will be completed in February of 2020, the three are currently available to instruct individuals and couples about the use of the Church-approved method of achieving or avoiding pregnancy. As “student teachers,” they will be under the supervision of a senior educator.

“This system is about much more than becoming pregnant or avoiding pregnancy,” stressed Ramirez. “It helps the overall health of women.”

When Bernal was hired as the coordinator of the Matrimony, Family Life and Natural Family Planning office, Bishop John Brungardt explained that he wanted her focus on Natural Fertility Awareness to be a top priority.

“The fertility care system encompasses all the aspects of the person,” Bernal said, “the spiritual, physical, intellectual, creative, and emotional side of every human being. The model has the highest success rate of avoiding or achieving pregnancy, even more so than contraception.” 

The Creighton Model allows woman to chart their reproductive health cycle, even allowing them to monitor if there are any abnormalities. They can note biological markers that indicate when they are more receptive to fertilization. Because it allows the couple to be open to life even when avoiding pregnancy, it retains the dignity of the human person and is fully approved by the Catholic Church.

“Scripture teaches us that the marital act should be pro-creative and unitive,” Bernal explained. “When a person uses a barrier method [of contraception], that allows the act to be neither pro-creative nor unitive.

“I see women using artificial means and masking what’s going on in their body,” Bernal said. “I’m very concerned about women’s health overall.”

Ramirez added, “These methods, such as Creighton, allow the couple to get to know each other and love each other in a more profound way. The two become as one, not just physically.”

After 10 intense days of training at the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita, the three have already begun speaking with couples about the program, and are eager to let people know about this valuable resource.

“We want to get the word out that the program is available,” Bernal said. “We will travel anywhere in the diocese to work with couples and individuals.”

For most couples, the first time they hear of Natural Fertility Awareness methods is in marriage prep. “I’d like to see younger women in high school and college learn about the methods, so that when they’re married, they already have an idea of a way to monitor their fertility,” Bernal said.

There are instructors of other methods in the diocese, including Heidy Ramirez, who teaches the Billings Ovulation Method, and Jacqueline Brown, who also teaches the Creighton Method.

“We really want to express our gratitude to everyone who supported the Vibrant Ministries Appeal, which allowed us to attend this program,” Bernal said. “We also want to thank the priests of the diocese. They are on the front lines in their work with couples, and we want to encourage them to reach out to us.”

For more information, contact Bernal at (620) 227-1529, or visit

Diocese of Dodge City

910 Central PO Box 137 Dodge City, KS 67801 | 620-227-1500

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