Celebrating natural women’s health care

Lindsay Steele
David Fetzer, left, presents Marie Ripslinger-Atwater, a member of Our Lady of Victory Parish–Davenport, a Pope Paul IV Ambassador grant during the Culture of Life Dinner at St. Wenceslaus Parish–Iowa City on April 27 as Father Gary Beckman, pastor of the Iowa City parish, looks on.

By Lindsay Steele

The Catholic Messenger

IOWA CITY — Gregory and Rachelle Waddle feared they might have a difficult time maintaining a pregnancy, since women in her family had a history of low progesterone and miscarriages. When the Waddles became pregnant with their first child, they wanted to be proactive, Greg told the crowd at the Culture of Life Dinner at St. Wenceslaus Parish on April 27.

The couple was concerned that, without progesterone supplements, they might lose the baby, and it wasn’t long before Rachelle started showing signs of a possible miscarriage. However, Rachelle’s doctor was not willing to take action at that point. The doctor insisted that it was a natural process, the body’s way of ending a non-viable pregnancy.


The Waddles, who are members of the Iowa City parish, didn’t want to give up on their baby. They found a doctor trained in the Creighton Model FertilityCare System to prescribe progesterone for Rachelle. The Waddles’ daughter, Lily, is now 3 years old. “They saved our daughter’s life,” Gregory said, his voice cracking. Around the room, sobs were audible as Greg and others in the audience wiped away tears.
The story highlighted the importance of Natural Family Planning and its role in avoiding and achieving pregnancy in marriage and helping with a variety of health issues, such as low progesterone.

Each year, St. Wenceslaus Parish hosts a Culture of Life Dinner to raise funds for its Knights of Columbus council’s Pope Paul VI Institute grants. These grants offer assistance to individuals who desire to become medical consultants or practitioners in the Creighton Model FertilityCare System of natural family care and family planning methods. The Creighton Model utilizes NaPro technology to identify and treat hormonal and gynecological problems without use of birth control pills. Its symptom-based fertility tracking method can be used to avoid and achieve pregnancy. Grants are also available to people who want to become Pope Paul VI Institute ambassadors by attending the Women’s HealthCare Matters conference at the Omaha-based institute.

This year, the Knights offered five practitioner grants, one medical consultant grant and three ambassador grants. Several recipients live in the Diocese of Davenport. Marie Ripslinger-Atwater, a member of Our Lady of Victory Parish in Davenport, received an ambassador grant and plans to begin training to become a practitioner. Linda Rubey, executive director of the Women’s Choice Center in Bettendorf, and Sharon Hude, a member of St. Wenceslaus, also received ambassador grants. Cassidy LeClaire and Sheryl Schwager, both members of St. Patrick Parish-Iowa City, received practitioner scholarships and are currently at the intern stage of training.

After the dinner, women who are training to be practitioner or medical consultants teamed up to offer a presentation on the Creighton Model and how it helps women understand and analyze their health and fertility.

They also offered testimony on their interest in becoming practitioners or medical consultants. LeClaire attends the dinner annually, but with a busy engineering career, she didn’t think she’d have time to go through practitioner training. Eventually, the Holy Spirit “poked and prodded” her to give it a try by putting people in her life that she knew she could help, given proper training. “I finally opened my heart to it. I just had to trust God and jump in.”

Schwager, the executive director of Johnson County Right to Life, believes that being able to teach the Creighton Model will make it possible for her to help more women and men. “In so many ways, we can increase our outreach and really build a culture of life” by helping women learn to appreciate their fertility and embrace chastity. “All women and men should be empowered with this information.”

At the event’s conclusion, Greg Waddle announced that the dinner raised $23,198 toward the KC’s grant program. “What an amazing opportunity to build a culture of life,” he said.

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