Written by Melissa Gorley. Originally published in Family Foundations.
This blog is a part of a series where we will meet three couples who are boldly doing this work and living the truth that St John Paul II speaks about – “the Gospel of God’s love for man, the Gospel of the dignity of the person and the Gospel of life are a single and indivisible Gospel”. (If you have not read Part 1, check it out here.)
Supporting Families and Children by Fostering Infants at Home
Originally from South Dakota, Meghan and Brett Jones met there while still in high school. They married when Brett graduated from college and as Meghan began it. As a part of their marriage preparation, they learned CCL’s sympto-thermal method of NFP from the now-retired CCL Home Study Course “with a mercury thermometer,” they remembered with a laugh.
Living NFP as a married woman and joining an on-line NFP discussion board were both important steps for Meghan in her conversion to Catholicism during her junior year of college. “I had our first son Aidan in the fall of my junior year and converted that spring.” For Meghan, living NFP was a “huge part of the practical life of a Catholic because it was so counter-cultural.”
The Jones’ trained to teach CCL’s STM in Texas where Brett earned his Doctorate and Meghan finished college. They served as a Teaching Couple for CCL for several years, when they lived outside a large university town for Brett’s work and had interested students there, as well as when they planted roots in their now home state of Wisconsin.
Over time, they continued to promote NFP through marriage prep and at their local Newman Center but rarely had any local students. Their other pro-life work grew with their family of seven children, especially as their teenagers got involved in the work of their diocesan pro-life offices, including making pilgrimages to the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C.
Then Meghan felt a strong call to “help bring change” to her local community, and at the same time they had an extended family member in an “unsafe” situation with her two children. Shortly after, Brett and Meghan discerned a call to become licensed foster parents through their state’s foster care program.
“We need to step it up as a Church,” Meghan shared. “Children in foster care are born to drug addicts or into poverty or abuse – these are the children from situations others would argue justify abortion.” She continued, “NFP work, other pro-life work – it’s all a part of being open to life and seeing the unique beauty of every human life.”
Over six years, the Jones family has fostered six children, half of them infants. “We feel called to continue with infants at this point,” Meghan explains. “Practically speaking, we can meet the state’s space requirements because an infant can sleep in our room and I know how to care for them.” It also maintains the natural birth order of their biological family of now eight children, ages twenty down to six years old. When asked his advice for other pro-life families, Dr. Jones challenged, “Be connected to your community and be strong, loving advocates of truth…. First, of course, work to make sure your domestic church is strong, but it can’t stop there.”
Sharing the Good News in Parish Ministry Work
CCL TC Martin and Daniela Bustos of California, who also met while in high school, were active in their parish “True Love Waits” youth group. They were only friends at the time, but they credit their powerful youth group experience with laying the foundation for their marriage and family life today. The youth group was involved in the pro-life work of praying outside their local abortion clinic and attending the West Coast Walk for Life. It was there that they first heard about NFP, and it was the group that supported them in living chastity when they finally dated for several years before marrying. They now have three children, two girls ages ten and seven and a three-year-old son.
They took CCL’s sympto-thermal method class when they were engaged. “Even after our youth group experience, I learned so much in the class. It was a real eye-opener, like a blind fold came off. I saw God’s grace through my body,” Daniela recounted. By the second class, Martin and Daniela knew they wanted to share the class with others.
The certification process took some time as they worked though it with a newborn, but Martin and Daniela are now a certified volunteer instructor couple at their parish, teaching CCL’s current app-based, Spanish language class called “Know Your Fertility” (Conoce Tu Fertilidad). Daniela also serves as a coach through CCL’s Fertility Science Institute doing chart reviews in Spanish and she is a religious education teacher at their parish. “We are literally saving lives when we teach NFP, not just giving people information about their bodies. The issue of contraception and how it can end life- so many people don’t know that!” Daniela remarked.
It Begins with NFP
Pope St. John Paul II provided a clear and compelling comparison of abortion and contraception in his encyclical letter “The Gospel of Life.” He concluded that they are “fruits of the same tree… rooted in a hedonistic mentality unwilling to accept responsibility in matters of sexuality, and they imply a self-centered concept of freedom….” With the Dobbs decision overturning Roe, an important branch contributing to the growth of abortion has been definitively sawed off the tree that is the Culture of Death. Thanks be to God. Now it remains for the workers in the kingdom of God to joyfully cultivate the soil of the tree that is the Culture of Life.
As witnessed by the lives of the Akanegbus, the Jones family, and the Bustoses, the self-less love, true freedom, and respect for the dignity of every human life embodied in the natural family planning lifestyle makes it the foundation for living the Gospel of Life with love in our culture today.