Each year, the Diocese of St. Cloud presents an award to a person who has exhibited extraordinary courage in promoting the teachings of “Humanae Vitae,” an encyclical written by St. Paul VI in 1968. This teaching explains God’s plan for married love and the transmission of life.
This year, that person is Sue Ek, a member of St. Augustine Parish in St. Cloud.
“Sue has been dedicated to promoting ‘Humanae Vitae for many years,” said Joan Jay, who nominated Sue for the award. “Sue has affected many teachers, supervisors and clients with her expertise and wisdom. [She] continues to organize webinars and workshops to continue to update all of us in this field.”
Joan and her husband, Dr. George Jay, of Morris, first met Sue while they were training to become natural family planning instructors. NFP is a modern, scientific and natural means of either achieving or postponing pregnancy requiring no drugs, devices or surgical procedures. This form of family planning aligns with the teachings of “Humanae Vitae.”
Sue first became involved with NFP, specifically with the Billings Ovulation Method, long before she even knew what it was.
“My parents would pack up our family of three children and head to parishes around the diocese on the weekends,” Sue recalled. “It was fun. Looking back, that must have been because of pastors requesting the Billings Ovulation Method instruction in their parishes.”
Sue’s mother, Kay Ek, and Mary Hughes of Waite Park, were part of the first-ever Billings Ovulation Method teacher training held in the United States in 1972. Later, Kay became the director of the Office of Natural Family Planning for the St. Cloud Diocese.
Sue often helped her mother in the NFP office during her high school years and again after she completed college. In 1996, Kay was elected as the national president of the Billings Ovulation Method Association in the U.S., called BOMA-USA, which was temporarily housed under the auspices of the St. Cloud Diocese.
When a full-time position opened in the NFP office, Sue accepted it.
“I then became a certified Billings Ovulation Method instructor in order to help with the large client base we were getting, mostly from the marriage prep courses,” Sue said. “Then, because my mother was very involved on the national level, I frequently went with her to conferences and helped with developing and editing training manuals and other things such as brochures. During that time, we received a large grant from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for NFP promotional materials which allowed us to produce a series of five videos.”
Sharing the national workload with BOMA-USA and the local NFP work at the diocese became increasingly difficult, so in 2001 the offices separated and Sue became the first executive director of BOMA-USA. She currently serves as BOMA-USA’s director of operations.
Sue said her work with NFP has significantly enriched her life and faith with lifelong friendships. Among her greatest rewards are meeting St. John Paul II, becoming friends with Drs. John and Lyn Billings and working with NFP instructors, especially those who were NFP clients first and then chose to become teachers.
“NFP instructors are helpful by nature and are nurturing. They are the kind of people you want to be around,” she said.
Sheila Reineke, current NFP program coordinator for the diocese, has collaborated with Sue for more than 30 years and has witnessed the fruit of Sue’s lifetime of work.
“Sue has been a wonderful friend and mentor over the years,” Sheila said. “She set high standards for the role of NFP program coordinator in our diocese and was always happy to assist when I followed her in that role. The support I received from Sue and BOMA-USA has been invaluable to our NFP ministry. Sue’s contribution has played a large part in forming the strong and vibrant NFP program the Diocese of St. Cloud has today.”
All are invited: The annual diocesan Humanae Vitae Mass and award presentation will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 29, at St.Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud.
Natural Family Planning Week begins July 25. More resources are available by visiting https://stcdio.org/natural-family-planning/.