By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
IOWA CITY — “What you guys do here is incredible,” FertilityCare Practitioner Sarah Kopriva told guests at the 2022 Culture of Life Dinner at St. Wenceslaus Parish. ”You’re changing lives by what you’re doing.”
Kopriva explained how St. Paul VI Institute grants — provided by the St. Wenceslaus Knights of Columbus Council — help 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 or achieve pregnancy.
The Culture of Life Dinner serves as the primary fundraiser for these grants. Guests donated $11,000 at the dinner. Over the years, the council has awarded grants to 22 practitioners and six medical consultants.
This year’s dinner was the first since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, though the KofCs raised grant funds through an online program in the fall of 2020. After a potluck-style meal provided by members of St. Wenceslaus Parish, four recent grant recipients introduced themselves and offered a presentation on the Creighton Model. Kopriva completed practitioner training at the St. Paul VI Institute in Omaha, Nebraska, in 2017 and now works as the executive director of Guiding Star Cedar Valley in Waterloo, Iowa. Suzanne Schneider of Madrid, Iowa, is a practitioner intern. Dr. Ben Schwab of Sioux City, Iowa, and Dr. Katie Keefer of Indianapolis, Indiana, studied to become medical consultants. Dr. Keefer has a connection to the Davenport Diocese; she and husband, Michael, attended St. Wenceslaus Parish while she studied medicine at the University of Iowa.
The KofCs also offer grants for organizations to host Guiding Star Cycle Show presentations. These presentations aim to prepare 9-year-old to 13-year-old girls for the changes they will experience within their bodies in the coming years. Linda Jacobs of Marshalltown, Iowa, a Cycle Show presenter, talked about how the presentations take a positive, celebratory approach to puberty so adolescents can learn to appreciate their changing bodies.
During a question and answer session with grant recipients, a newlywed husband asked how he can advocate for natural healthcare for women. “Guys’ voices matter a lot,” Kopriva said. “You can stand up and say, ‘I’m glad I learned this (Natural Family Planning) with my wife.’ Don’t lose your voice.” Dr. Keefer reminded guests that men can be practitioners and medical consultants.
One guest asked what parents can do if their primary physician or gynecologist wants to prescribe artificial contraceptives to their children for the treatment of gynecological conditions. Speakers encouraged guests to advocate for themselves and their children.
Several guests asked how they should start discussions about contraceptive-free healthcare and family planning with people who are not religious or don’t share the belief that life begins at conception. The speakers noted that FertilityCare practitioners come from a variety of backgrounds and the approach appeals to people who seek alternatives to artificial hormones.
“The green movement is very popular right now,” Schneider said. Dr. Keefer added, “Don’t come at it from a faith perspective, but from a medical perspective.” In her experience, women tend to be more receptive to considering NaPro technology after she explains how the menstrual cycle works. ”Meet (women) where they’re at,” Kopriva said.