Culture of Life
BY Joseph Pronechen
Register Staff Writer
August 15-28, 2010 Issue | Posted 8/6/10 at 1:13 PM
If there’s truth in the adage “A picture is worth a thousand words,” then the Association of Large Families of America is speaking volumes on its website (FourorMore.org) with numerous photos of big families.
This initiative and its equally new parent initiative HLI America are the newest champions in the culture of life’s corner.
Since 1974, Human Life International has been fighting the culture of death in more than 100 countries. It has recently launched HLI America (HLIAmerica.org), its first official outreach in the United States. The new initiative could not be more timely.
Father Thomas Euteneuer, Human Life International’s president, says that during this 50th anniversary year of the birth control pill, “HLI America is meant to take the message out to challenge the secular point of view on the issue of contraception in general and the default mentality of promiscuity and small families in our culture.”
At the same time, “The Association of Large Families is meant to give people a forum to express what used to be the normal attitude toward families in our society,” adds Father Euteneuer. “It will also give struggling people a lot of support to be generous with the gift of fertility. I always tell people, ‘If my parents had stopped having children with the third child, I wouldn’t be here because I am No. 4.’”
Since the pill was introduced, the average family size of 5.5 children is now hovering at 2.
“Children are lonely and crave the siblings that their parents have prevented and aborted,” says HLI America’s executive director, Jenn Giroux. “That’s why the country is ripe to see the beautiful faces of the children. We’re showing them through this big family network the beautiful fruits that God intends for their marriage.”
As a mother of nine children, from youngsters to college grads, a registered nurse for more than 20 years, and a longtime pro-life/family leader, Giroux views her work as a calling.
From years of nursing, she has observed the devastating effects of contraception and the numerous couples wounded by sterilization.
Most people are saturated with “big media’s fabrication that more contraception reduces abortion, when, in fact, it’s the exact opposite,” she says.
“Our challenge,” Giroux says, “is to educate America that more contraception and more prevention not only ruin women’s health, but lead to more abortions.
“One of our goals is to push back against that culture and mentality by educating people about the beauty of children.”
Giroux ties the goals into the Aug. 15 feast of the Assumption (and the Aug. 22 feast of the Queenship of Mary).
“Mary was assumed into heaven as queen and mother to receive her supernatural reward for remaining open to God’s will and saying Yes to God,” Giroux explains. “This is what we’re asking of families in America: to say Yes to God and his plan for their life without interjecting artificial means to intentionally limit their family size and putting their own will before God’s will.”
The association’s website forum invites families to encourage and educate others to be open to God’s perfect plan for marriage, fertility and children.
“Our effort with these beautiful families is to regain and re-establish what motherhood is: a great gift and a great career — the greatest profession on earth,” Giroux stresses.
As part of the outreach, Giroux and two other women give talks at colleges and women’s conferences.
“The media wants everyone to believe people with large families are dysfunctional,” says Giroux. But she and the other “normal moms who have the beauty of nine or 12 children each” give a talk called “The Countercultural Comeback of Large Families.”
Reactions are always the same: Women say they want to have more children but are often advised by doctors to not have more than two.
Co-speaker Mary Kristina Fiore, a mother of nine (ages 5 to 22) has heard that medical “advice.” She experienced two extremely difficult pregnancies — one in which she got the sacrament of the sick, another with the doctor advising abortion. But, as she says, “The bottom line is trusting in God and moving forward, and knowing he’s going to take care of you.”
In both cases, not only did everything turn out fine, but both self-proclaimed agnostic doctors called the outcome a miracle.
Sharing with audiences “the beauty of a large family … and a lot of our personal experience with the kids and our journey in the culture today” is inspiring other women and changing minds, Fiore says.
The association’s website participants include Maureen Corgiat and husband Chris, of Cincinnati, who are both in their mid-20s.
“We are open to life and are excited to watch our little family grow,” says Maureen. They have two daughters under 3 and are “planning on having a large family.”
The Corgiats wanted to network with other families because “it’s definitely helpful to have the support of like-minded people following the way God intended us to,” Maureen explains. And they’re finding FourorMore.org to be a great resource with advice and personal testimonies. (Membership isn’t limited to large families, but to those who share their ideals. The website lists requirements.)
Corgiat also loves the photos of the large families on the website.
“When people see these families,” she says, “the first thing that comes to mind is: What a beautiful family! That beauty points us straight to God, because only through God, do we have that true beauty.”
Staff writer Joseph Pronechen is based in Trumbull, Connecticut.
Visit FourorMore.org and HLIAmerica.org
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