Longtime natural family planning instructors to receive Humanae Vitae Award

Each year, the Diocese of St. Cloud presents the Humanae Vitae Award to someone who has exhibited extraordinary courage in promoting the teachings of Blessed Pope Paul VI’s encyclical “Humanae Vitae.”

Mark and Lola Welle, members of Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Sauk Centre, have been named this year’s award recipients. The couple has been teaching natural family planning in the Diocese of St. Cloud since 1991 and have touched countless lives through marriage preparation classes and Lola’s work as a nurse with CentraCare Health.

The Welles were introduced to natural family planning — the scientific, natural and moral methods of family planning that can help married couples either achieve or postpone pregnancies — even before they were married. When they were dating, they attended a seminar by Benedictine Father Paul Marx, founder of Human Life International and a promoter of NFP. His talk inspired them to take a deeper look. By the time they got married, they were already knowledgeable about NFP and started using it as a way to space their children.

“We both knew that contraception was [against the Church’s teaching] because our parents taught us well,” Mark Welle said. “[NFP] was a way to space our children and still be in line with Catholic teaching,” he said.

The Welles believe their experience with NFP enhanced their relationship as a couple.

“We believe that the periodic abstinence is a big reason that NFP enriches marriages,” Mark said. “It makes you desire each other more, and when the waiting is over, it’s like another honeymoon. Just imagine how many honeymoons you can have in a lifetime together.”

The added respect they built for one another was a main reason they decided to become NFP instructors. Over nearly 30 years of teaching, they have mentored countless couples.

Mark and Lola Welle

“The thing that is heartwarming for us is when they learn NFP and use it, and then they tell us how it has improved their married life,” Mark said. “One couple told us that it was like they were dating again. They would leave each other love notes, he would bring flowers and all kinds of other thoughtful things.”

A couple of years ago, the Welles decided it was time to step back from teaching.

They recalled a young couple, Jill and Isaac Uphus, who had been students of theirs
at a marriage course in 2013 and had continued to work with them after their wedding. The Uphuses agreed to take over as instructors for the Sauk Centre region.

“As we have begun our journey, Mark and Lola have been there to support us every step of the way,” Jill Uphus said. “The time that they continue to dedicate to us is appreciated beyond words. They have routinely supervised our chart reviews, instructions and marriage courses as we continue through our first-year practicum and are always ready to provide us with additional advice and input on our teaching.”

Jill and Isaac hope to continue the work that the Welles have been doing, teaching the beauty of marital love in accordance with God’s plan, and are excited that they are this year’s Humanae Vitae award winners. “Mark and Lola continue to display astonishing courage in promoting life and love as an interconnected relationship between husband, wife and God,” Jill said.

Humanae Vitae Mass and award

The “Humanae Vitae” Mass is at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 25, at St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud. Bishop Donald Kettler will preside and a reception will follow.

NFP Awareness Week

Natural Family Planning Awareness Week is July 21-27. This year’s theme is “Love, Naturally!” A colorful poster, homily notes and other online resources are available at www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/ marriage-and-family/natural-family- planning/awareness-week.

Author: Dianne Towalski

Dianne Towalski is a multimedia reporter for The Central Minnesota Catholic Magazine.

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