Friday, September 17, 2010

go big or go home

In this case, I suppose, I am hoping to do both. So as some of you know, I've been emailing the list of DC-area infertile (mostly) Catholic girls who originally became involved/interested in the support group founded by the blogosphere's own beloved Jeremiah 29:11.

The response has been underwhelming so far, but after so many months since last we met (I was planning to get in touch with Jeremiah about scheduling the next meeting, since she's been busy with Tommy, oh - six months ago?), I can't be surprised. Jeremiah kicked the group off with a widely-advertised opening event at Archdiocese of Washington HQ, and that was a big success (except for that annoying older lady who thought we should all attend a treatment center in Denmark, or whatever). So I thought maybe it was time for another similar effort. But I'm neither as energetic nor as well-connected as Jeremiah...

Anyway, here's what I came up with. I just sent the following email to the generic contact addresses for my parish (with a request to forward to the appropriate priest). Right now I think I am experiencing some of that intermittent tachycardia, but of course it's most likely to result in...absolutely no response of any kind. I tried, though (and may even try again if it doesn't work).

And I'd love to hear your comments (I already know it's too long - I tried - but if you have specific suggestions for cutting it down, I'm all ears). And if you wanted to copy it and send it to YOUR pastor (and let me know what parish, if you're in the DC area), I'd be beyond thrilled. Maybe someone will listen.


I write to ask for your consideration of an initiative that I think would be of great spiritual benefit to your congregation.

My name is [the misfit]. My husband and I are parishioners at [parish] (though I don't think we're actually registered!). We just celebrated our five-year anniversary, and have been trying to have a child throughout that time without success. One blessing that has made this struggle easier for me was getting in touch with other women suffering with infertility, many of them Catholic.

One observation I've heard from almost every Catholic infertile woman I've talked to, in every part of the country (and some other countries), is that her struggle is made more painful by the fact that infertility seems to be invisible to the Church. Studies show that approximately one in six American couples is infertile, but infertility is very rarely discussed, even more rarely by the Church herself. When infertility is mentioned by pastors, it's almost always the same message: don't use IVF. Almost none of the infertile Catholic women I know would consider using illicit artificial reproductive technologies - and yet they must grieve their vocation to motherhood, in relative isolation. Sometimes after trying all the licit treatments available, they must face the fact that they will never have children. The Church's public message offers nothing to help them deal with this and the resulting challenges to their faith. "Don't use IVF" is all they hear - but it is not all they need to hear!

I am alone among my Catholic acquaintance in that I have heard an intention offered at my parish for those suffering from infertility. And there may have been more mentions at [parish] which I've missed! But there is so much more that could be done.

Here is the initiative I request you consider. Friday, November 5 is the feast day of St. Elizabeth, mother of St. John the Baptist, and well-known as an infertile saint. I believe it would be of enormous benefit to celebrate Mass on that day for the intention of those suffering with infertility. This Mass intention could be advertised in the bulletin on the previous Sundays. A small and relatively unofficial support group for infertile Catholic women already exists in the area (it was initiated with assistance from the Archdiocese of Washington), and the parish might also advertise the fact that on the following day, Saturday, November 6, a meeting of that group would occur in the DC area which infertile men and women would be welcome to attend.

I believe that offering Mass for those suffering with infertility (at every parish in the diocese, if possible!), and advertising that fact beforehand, would provide two very important benefits. First, it would offer to infertile Catholics the spiritual solidarity of their Church; both her prayers and her companionship in the carrying of their cross. Second, it would make infertility, which is a widespread problem, more visible to Catholics generally: both to infertile men and women, who often believe, to their detriment, that they are suffering alone; and to the clergy and to "fertile" members of the congregation, whose increased awareness would enable them to have greater compassion and understanding for those who suffer from infertility.

I am more grateful than I can express for your consideration of this suggestion. I would be delighted to hear any response or comments you may have. I can be contacted at this address or at [phone number].

[the misfit]


  1. I think that's a fantastic email. Good for you!

  2. Well, that's really nicely worded!

    Is no one responding because there aren't that many women left of the group who haven't adopted or gotten pregnant? Or are people just silent?

  3. This is just what I was talking about the other day! I think it's great as is. Good luck!

  4. terrific. i wish i had the nerve to send this to our local pastors.

  5. sorry, to clarify: i wouldn't send your letter but one of my own with similar content.

  6. Just read this now! Read it to the husband; love this. Coincidentally in a Godly way, I FEEL THE EXACT SAME THING. I wrote a post a few weeks ago about marching boldly into the rectory office and paying $20 for a mass intention for "infertile couples." It's going on Oct 17. The secretary was confused, "no one has ever done this before," she said. I insisted and it went through. No one in our VERY LARGE parish talks about infertility. We're lepers. Since my pastor is a block wall, I'm going to run this through our terrific deacons and the other priests to see if I can get this through to our LA-area church. THANKS MUCH, Misfit!!!

  7. (I commented yesterday, but it must not have gone through.)

    LOVE your email! I'm so glad that you are doing this. I hope to see you again sometime soon.

  8. makes me wish i was in Virginia to enjoy this get together! i think you did a good job wording it.

  9. I think this is a wonderful email - way to go!

  10. Ok so u must have read my mind. This has been on my heart lately. I've been contemplating talking to our priest. Now u have given me more drive. Would u mind if I used this, changed it up a little to fit my situation and sent it to my priest? You are awesome. I hope that this message spreads bc like u said, here in my city infertility is a mute sad.