While they were preparing for marriage, Erica and Chris Rossio dutifully attended Natural Family Planning (NFP) classes.

As practicing Catholics, they knew the Church considers artificial contraception to be gravely sinful. So, that was off the table. But they were also aware that the Church didn’t require them to leave future pregnancies entirely to chance.

NFP is a Church-approved approach to family planning that involves tracking the fertile and infertile phases in a woman’s menstrual cycle. It can be used either to achieve pregnancy or, if the couple has serious reasons for doing so, to avoid pregnancy.

Despite their commitment to practicing NFP, some methods of which purport to be around 99-percent effective, Erica and Chris were initially skeptical that it worked. But firsthand experience soon made believers out of them.

The couple successfully used NFP in the first few months of their marriage to avoid pregnancy. Then, changing tack and using it to conceive a child, they quickly found themselves expecting. They now have two daughters: 4-year-old Cecelia and 4-month-old Kolbe.

“Somebody needs to be talking about (NFP), shouting it from the rooftops,” said Erica, 32.

It was that conviction that inspired her and Chris, also 32, to become NFP instructors for the Diocese of San Diego about four years ago.

“I don’t think that we went through the (diocesan marriage preparation program) thinking, ‘Yeah, one day, we’re going to be those guys up there preaching this stuff,’” added Chris, who feels as if God “opened the door.”

The couple attends the diocesan Office for Family Life and Spirituality’s monthly “Celebrating Your Love” days, one-day retreats for engaged couples, which are offered as part of the diocesan marriage preparation program. There, the Rossios deliver a witness talk about NFP and lead a breakout session that serves as a basic introduction. Those couples interested in learning more are able to sign up with the Rossios for a series of classes that take place over the course of a year.

The bishops of the United States focus on this issue during Natural Family Planning Awareness Week, July 19 to 25, with an educational campaign organized to promote Catholic beliefs about human sexuality and conjugal love….

The above comes from a July 2 story in the Southern Cross.