Pro-Life and Pro-NFP (Part 2)

Written by S.J. Duca. Originally published in Family Foundations.

Part 2 of a 2 Part Series.

A parent’s impact reverberates for generations. In three interviews across three states, I heard
testimonies as to what a difference it makes when parents share with their children about the goodness of life and Natural Family Planning (NFP). These stories bring hope, offering a glimpse into how younger generations are taking to heart the example of those who came before them, and taking up the call to build a culture of life today.

Alejandro and Juan Pablo

When Pope John Paul II visited the United States, Lourdes Ramirez heard him speak of the opportunity for a New Evangelization through media, and she prayed that God might use her children in the world of media if He had need of them. Fast forward more than two decades, and her sons, Alejandro and Juan Pablo, have launched a highly successful YouTube channel and a media company working with clients like Bank of America and The Cheesecake Factory. They’ve traveled the globe creating videos and are currently making a documentary represented by one of Hollywood’s biggest agencies. Talk about a prayer answered!

Fausto and Lourdes Ramirez must be among the longest serving CCL teaching couples in the nation; they’ve taught for twenty-nine years and served countless Spanish-speaking couples. Alejandro remembers how he and his brothers tagged along on weekends as his parents taught classes up and down California. “They also traveled to Washington, Oregon, and Nebraska,” he said. “They’ve helped all the current teachers from California’s Central Valley get certified and have gone through four editions of NFP resources.”

Alejandro attributes the origins of both his creativity and faith life to his parents, who planted the seeds. “We all love to draw, we all love to paint, we all love making videos,” he shared about his siblings. Besides encouraging artistry, Fausto and Lourdes found ways for their children to attend Catholic school and participate at church through choir, altar serving, and teaching confirmation. “Our family was always involved in the church and faith was always central at home,” said Alejandro.

In this faith-based family culture, Alejandro and Juan Pablo’s creativity flourished. In high school, Alejandro, Juan Pablo, and their friend Vincent started their first video project together, eventually flexing their creative muscles by creating a YouTube channel around the theme of “MMA: Mexican Martial Arts.” The passion project took off, hitting 100K subscribers in a year, making waves in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and connecting the Ramirez brothers with other creators and sponsors. Today, their work on YouTube has garnered more than 400 million views.

Alejandro and Juan Pablo are now building a creative studio in Texas to support their expanding work. But their tremendous success in media hasn’t distracted them from their roots and values. The brothers have supported the pro-life work of Live Action and CCL, and anticipate sharing their talents with other faith-based ministries. “We’d like to help Catholic apostolates with their media production and marketing,” said Alejandro. “We also plan on creating films and shows that can be used for evangelization.”

While acknowledging there are many challenges, the Ramirez brothers believe it is possible to change culture for good through social media, as long as one goes about it intelligently and with love. For Alejandro, change always starts on the personal level, with how each individual decides to use their time and gifts.

“Christians have to look inwardly and change themselves, and the culture will change if that happens,” he said. “We live in a time when many Christians are getting abortions or watching porn. I believe the idea that Scott Hahn got from his mentor: ‘If Catholics simply live the Sacrament of Matrimony for one generation, we would witness a transformation of society.’”

Alejandro’s conviction in the power of art to be a part of effecting change echoes the thought of Pope John Paul II, whose words moved Lourdes Ramirez to prayer so many years ago. “Art is a way to reveal truths about ourselves, the world, and God,” said Alejandro. “We don’t always see the world as it is, but art helps us pierce the veil. It allows us to delve into moral dilemmas and flesh out how suffering plays out in the real world.”

Silvia and Kristina

Silvia Schmidt remembers the wonder she felt when she was first introduced to the sympto-thermal method and saw the chart describe with accuracy what was happening in her body. “I was in awe,” she described. Today, the beauty of fertility is a message she shares with Hispanic couples across the nation — and at home with her teenage daughters Kristina and Karla.

As a volunteer and employee of CCL for more than twenty years, Silvia has watched technologies change while the underlying need for NFP remains the same. “NFP is timeless because it’s about understanding our bodies,” she said. “It’s always relevant because it works with nature. It supports the way our bodies are meant to be.”

These days, Silvia can be found training other teachers how to integrate the new PeakDay app into Spanish-language courses. She’s also working hands-on with her local Hispanic community in northern Kentucky. “I taught a class this past Saturday with PeakDay, and it was awesome,” she said, adding that the app’s intuitive icons and colors make it extremely accessible, no matter the user’s language.

Silvia’s daughters haven’t simply heard the message about NFP she works so hard to spread, they’ve taken it to heart. Both Kristina and Karla have attended Silvia’s classes, helping to manage equipment and translate for students. “Kristina is really good with technology,” Silvia described. “She takes care of the computer, the projector, the speaker.” Kristina admits that attending the courses felt awkward at first, but it quickly grew on her. “Sitting in those classes and seeing all the couples, it opened up my mind,” she said. Now, she knows much more about fertility than your average eighth-grader.

Conversations about the value and richness of NFP take place in the Schmidt home too. “As a teacher, it’s very easy to talk about fertility and sex, that it’s normal and good, that God made it,” said Silvia. “He doesn’t make mistakes.” Being in a household comfortable discussing these topics recently helped Kristina when she sat down to write a pro-life essay for her diocese’s scholarship competition. “I could understand better what I was writing about,” she commented.

Her learning paid off: Out of 300 students in the competition, Kristina was selected as a top 20 finalist. Her essay echoes lessons learned from her mom. The argument that the fetus is too small to deserve protection can’t be true, Kristina wrote, because “all lives are created equal, with worth and dignity.” She pointed to historical travesties when people have been denied human rights based on appearance. “The argument that a baby is too small to have worth is not right,” she concluded.

While Kristina currently envisions her future as heading toward culinary school, she wants to remain active in promoting life. “I don’t know if I see myself teaching, but definitely supporting prolife ministries,” she said. At fourteen, Kristina feels hopeful when she considers her generation’s understanding of life. “Today a lot of people care about taking care of their body,” she said. “And that’s part of being pro-life — it’s about respecting all life, from beginning to end.”

Taking Up the Call

Across the nation, through their unique gifts, Bobby and Danielle, Alejandro and Juan Pablo, and Silvia and Kristina are sharing the message of the sacredness of life. Their stories are testaments to hope — with the courage to act and the will to love, hearts can be opened to cherish life, from generation to generation.

Read Part I of this series here.