Supporting NFP Outreach Clergy—A Lay Witness
Dorothy Dugandzic, CFCP
“I have never shrunk from announcing to you God’s design in its entirety”
--St. Paul, Acts 20, 27
Working for the St. Augustine Foundation in New York for 14 years, I advocated tirelessly locally and nationally to make effective natural methods of family planning become better known in the Catholic Church to its people, its clergy and its medical professionals. My passion came from living through my mother’s reproductive struggle with the RH factor in the 1960s-70s affecting 7 of her 8 pregnancies with the loss of the last 2 (my sisters, Elizabeth at birth and Philomena in utero, threatening my mother’s life). My parents were a brave example to me of being open to new life at all cost--even to death, enduring all the suffering that came their way while always remaining devoted to each other in their marriage vows and to God in the devout practice of their Catholic faith. As the Billings Method of NFP was born into the world just about the time my mother could no longer have live births, it was a God-send to her marriage--that she could avoid pregnancy in a manner respecting God’s design.
My research and extensive travels across the US and abroad led me to learn of all the organizations advocating effective NFP methods, and the beautiful people who taught them. And the awesome priests who preached about NFP. I was amazed at how much NFP information was “out there.” And how many people were so devoted to this work. Very intriguing too was that some of the methods even had a component for clergy education. I became more driven to market NFP!!!
Along with John E. Fitzgerald, Esq., the Executive Director of the St. Augustine Foundation, I wholeheartedly embraced the mission of NFP Outreach, based in Oklahoma City, supporting its clergy in their weekend missions and their temporal needs for about 12 years. And marketing their missions on the East Coast, bringing in NFP witness couples and NFP OB/GYNs to make the missions highly credible and fruitful. We helped expand the NFP Outreach mission from 1 priest to 3 always hoping that more would join the ranks as we felt this work was very important to building up the Culture of Life in the Catholic Church across the US. Thank you John for your great generosity to NFP Outreach! And to the entire NFP community across the US!
I also worked very closely with Fr. Daniel McCaffrey, the founder of the NFP Outreach organization (nfpoutreach.org) for 12 years. He showed me with great conviction and passion how damaging…. to souls…. and to the Church ….this contraception and sterilization is…they block the flow of grace from God…they are scourging the Church like a cancer as relativism has taken hold… His incredible witness of spending ALL of his retirement years (over 20!) preaching on the Church’s teachings on contraception, sterilization, and NFP and traveling the country and the world doing it convinced me… as he said…that we are living in a time of martyrs, of great error regarding contraception and we CAN and MUST change it. His military background, his great compassion for people, and his Irish charm, gave him a great foundation to spearhead the NFP Outreach mission across the globe. I often think of him as a walking saint!! A voice in the darknesss!!! And surely a DEVOTED friend who I witnessed with awe as he faithfully and tirelessly supported and befriended NFP teachers and advocates the world over, the people “in the trenches” as he always said. Day or night we could always call him regarding NFP issues in whatever state or airport he was traveling through.. He was/is there for all of us! He made it a big part of his mission to support all those working actively in the NFP movement around the world. He meant/means business!! In the war on contraception!!! He often said when the going got tough that he could be sitting under a palm tree in Florida, but chooses to fight the good fight. He’s willing to die with his boots on! He will go to his grave preaching on Humanae Vitae. I’ve often thought it would happen on a plane as he has been flying to missions and clergy conferences almost every weekend in cities across the US or around the world. God will be well pleased with him! God bless you Fr. Dan for your die hard commitment to preaching and ministering NFP throughout the world!!
Fr. Richard Hogan+ (one of those good who died young) worked for NFP Outreach for 8 years and I had the privilege to work with him. He was a great Church historian, writer, and expert on Pope John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” and preached extensively on it. I was very awakened to the gravity of contraception in our modern world with Fr. Hogan’s mention of the Birth Control Pill as a Modern Day Heresy in his book Dissent from the Creed,” resulting in me feeling compelled to encourage more clergy of the URGENT need to preach about these matters. Great thanks to Fr. Hogan for his gift of historical perspective and all his writings.
A third NFP crusading priest, Fr. Matthew Habiger, has worked for NFP Outreach for the last 9 years and continues in the mission. He truly is another passioned priest traveling the country giving NFP parish missions. I have been privileged to work with and support his courageous efforts. He joyfully proclaims the Church’s teaching for Love and Life as it indeed is GREAT news!!!
I have seen that no one runs away after these NFP homilies. Catholics are hungry for the Truth and deep down want to be right by God. I have walked the walk with couples who have struggled with contraceptive use and have converted to NFP. It is often a great struggle. But once they are free from contraception, they are joyful and at peace with God! And the Church is stronger for it!! I saw too that the parishes that transform themselves with regard to NFP are the ones where the priest takes a personal interest in this subject, preaches on it, talks about it, counsels couples, learns their struggles with it, starts a couples group…. and makes sure there is an NFP teacher in his parish or even takes an NFP course himself, or becomes an NFP instructor as Fr. Carlos Vega in NJ has done. A priest who preaches and markets for NFP in his parish can turn it around!
I also found out the hard way….you can be a teacher of NFP in a parish, but you really need your priest to be preaching on it or there is little business. The moral message is so very important if the NFP teacher is to have customers!!! Teaching and preaching go hand in hand!! And also having an NFP trained RN and MD offer great credibility to the Contraception/NFP homily. Some priests I worked with needed an awakening. To them I said, “Father, do you realize that almost all of the married couples sitting in your Church every Sunday are using some form of contraception? Your Church is contaminated! It is in a sense “sexually retarded”. Won’t you say something to them? Can you reach out to them? The message of Catholic sexuality is one of great beauty. They deserve to know about it. They deserve to know why contraception is harming them. There is a lot of ignorance out there among them. They are lost. This is a crime as modern methods of NFP are very effective!!”
My work also led me to serve and support various other clergy in their NFP parish needs and preaching as well and I was very willing to go the extra mile for them. My current pastor, Fr. Peter Pomposello is one of them along with my cousin Fr. Peter Dugandzic. This came naturally to me as my life is DEEPLY indebted to the priesthood. The sufferings and traumas of my early family life led me through the intercession of Our Lady of Medjugorje to a priest who shared a very long journey through a very painful valley with me. He was a trained family counselor who saved my life by being the instrument to its healing. It has been a joy to give back to the clergy as I have literally been transformed as a person….I deeply know the value and the gift of the priesthood--of the healing power of God through His priests. There are no words strong enough to express my gratitude. My healing is of such a very great magnitude that is to me just -- so profound—All that I am doing today with my NFP work and all the couples and priests I have served for the last 14 years would likely never have come about if not for this great intervention in my life--may more men become priests—
To all priests: You are the beloved sons of Our Lady who radiates God’s beauty--the same beauty seen in married couples at peace with themselves knowing they are following God’s design for family planning--As God’s instruments, help more couples know of this peace and this beauty! Heal the couples who are enslaved to contraceptive use and those who have destroyed their fertility through direct sterilization always staying close to Our Lady who longs to protect your priesthood from …fatigue, discouragement, worldliness, omission, and error…
Out of great love and concern—and accountability to God--speak out to your congregations on these very serious matters that are affecting your peoples’ spiritual lives, that have gripped the Church in an on-going Satanic battle.
May Our Lady of Medjugorje and St. Augustine intercede for you to preach on Humanae Vitae, enabling all the engaged and married couples entrusted to your care to have open channels of grace to God. And may all the sufferings my family and I endured by living out a position to be open to new life at all cost be offered to inspire you all to become NFP Outreaching priests!!!
Dorothy Dugandzic, CFCP, Managing Director, St. Augustine Foundation (1998-2012), Yonkers, NY. Currently working with Our Lady FertilityCare Services, Bronx, NY. (Submitted to NFP Outreach August 2013)