Why am I here?
My whole life has been for family, women, couples, and youth.
A change during a credited theology course on “The Family” at Eastern Michigan University. At the time I was teaching Family Studies at Notre Dame High School to grades 10, 12 and 13.
At the course I heard of the Billings Ovulation Method. For me this was the answer for women, youth and families. The whole direction of my teaching changed. I returned to teach 10 lessons in the grade 13 Course on the Ovulation Method. In 1973 1 received permission from the Ministry of Education to prepare a full credit course at the Grade 12 level called “The Family”. This course began in 1974. The students tracked their cycles for six months (January — June). The seeds for my future were planted at Notre Dame High School, Toronto.
While I was studying for my Master’s Degree in Spirituality during the summer of 1978, I attended a weekend in Omaha, NE at Dr Thomas Hilgers’ first training course for Practitioners. The FertilityCare System was an answer for all my questions I had with the Billings Method.
My community encouraged me to take time off to finish my degree. In 1981 I finally got my act together to take the year and I decided it was an opportunity to take the Creighton Model Practitioner’s Course. My provincial, at the time, said, “We must be attentive, for this is the work of Marguerite, especially at this time in our society.”
During 1981 — 1983 my provincials asked me to discuss where my studies would lead me. I thought it was simply back to Notre Dame. I was seeking to know the divine plan for me to do God’s will. This meant a deeper search for the meaning of life, love of women in society and desiring to respond to God’s call as Jesus did. My discernment was rooted in the life of Mary, the mysteries of Mary and Elizabeth in the Visitation, the Wedding Feast of Cana, etc. in the Ignatian Spirituality. In the early years, the passage of the Visitation was read at our meetings with time for reflection and sharing.
In September 1983 1 taught couples at Marguerite Residence, 4 Columbine in Toronto. My “Centre” was founded to be faithful to the pioneering spirit and vision of Marguerite Bourgeoys, her love, care and attentiveness to family, couples, women and youth. This would be accomplished through education in the Creighton Model FertilityCare System and related areas present in society. My Spiritual Director suggested I gather women together — to support and pray. From this came a board of directors and four of these women became practitioners.
Through this wandering in the desert, 1972 — 1983, I realized I had discovered a golden nugget in health care for women and youth… a paradigm shift with a medical component! I prayed for physicians to be trained. Dr. Teresa McKenna was the first, then Dr. Joseph Tham and others followed. Now the science of NaProTechnologyTM , the medical arm of the FertilityCare System was in Toronto, Canada.
This area of work has been the most challenging, painful, exciting, creative, stimulating, energizing, may I say even fruitful, living on the edge constantly for survival. My gifts have been used to the maximum. I have been stretched at times beyond my capacity but I’m still managing to keep my head a little above the water. One is dealing with the public much of the time. Even though I have given presentations over the years, I still prepare and focus myself for each. Prayer is a big part of the presentations. I carry those I will see with me all day, offering them to the Lord asking for my openness and responsiveness to their openness and receptivity. I generally tell them I have been praying for them. I find this a wonderful opening for them and for me.
My cherished moments are behind closed doors with couples. It is here we are helping a couple in their need, as delicate and intimate as the situation may be.
We are graced to have the Follow-up form as a tool. The sequence of leaming is skilfully arranged. The program aims to help the client to build confidence and trust in the FertilityCare System but also in one another. My couples know I love them, care for them, and pray for them.
For the engaged, the last two follow-ups before marriage are truly a sacramental time. Information given is for their honeymoon. They are so quiet, intent, ready to absorb every word. The spiritual areas of sexuality have never before been mentioned to them. Couples have said “Where else would we hear this, only in a situation of caring, trusting and believing in us as a couple.”
To journey with infertility couples is a grace. They are on a roller-coaster of emotions. We are tasked to help them to see the positive areas in their charting, and give them hope through the science of NaProTechnology..
“My tape” which I turn on often, is, “Even if you don’t achieve a pregnancy we will give you better health for the rest of your life.” Their response is “No other clinic can say that”. They will say too, “my health is important.”
There are many health issues to address — polycystic ovarian disease seems to be climbing. Last week a woman on the telephone said “Where have you been? I’ve been looking for you for years.” Another said “l can’t read about it on the internet, each line became worse. I turned it off then I came here and you showed us how this may be managed — we have our hope again”.
Of course, I delight in going to a classroom to teach. My teacher “juices” within me surface readily for action. My favourite still is an all girl school. There, the real questions are asked. I’ve gone back a second day just to respond to their questions. Questioning, to me, is education
To give a presentation to the engaged at a Marriage Preparation evening, is a challenge as well as a delight. The men are truly involved and absorbed in the information. They say, “We think we know our bodies, but we do not”.
In all my presentations, no matter to whom, I try to be encouraging and enthusiastic. I try to speak of the anatomy of the male and female with respect, dignity, a sense of awe and wonder, the fantastic gifts we possess within us, the beauty of our bodies, created to God’s image and likeness. For me this is all surrounded by mystery, sacredness, wonderment, with a holy touch of God.
For a couple to know this is the night they could create a person like themselves. How must they feel? The tiny cells within them have this potential, and the Breath of God is joining these — a new soul, a new person. Truly they are touching the creative mystery of the Trinity. What a grace to be a little handmade of the Lord.
There is a deep desire within me to journey with couples in the FertilityCare Program featuring NaProTechnology. This has been the highlight of my days. I love my couples, they know of this love, the feeling is mutual. Because of love, trust is built. Their appreciation is expressed in many and varied ways.
We are indeed privileged to be part of this gift for the people of God.
And now we have the responsibility to promote the Creighton Model FertilityCare System.
Sr Marilyn Mangan, CND
Founder, St. Marguerite Bourgeoys FertilityCare Toronto
Formerly Marguerite Bourgeoys Family Centre and FertilityCare Toronto