St. Gerard’s Outreach Ministry, a new initiative of the Office of Natural Family Planning at the Diocese of Phoenix, which serves couples in the season of infertility, welcomed 13 couples to their inaugural “Cherished” retreat at Mt. Claret Retreat Center in Phoenix on May 11.  

It was a “total success,” said Ana Luisa Martinez de Carillo, facilitator of Spanish Programs for Natural Family Planning, Couples were grateful that the Church is acknowledging them. The evaluation comments were very meaningful to us, often expressing the couple’s thankfulness at not feeling alone in their struggles 

Ian and Cassi Durnan along with Ann Koshute from Springs in the Desert, a ministry serving those struggling through infertility facilitated the retreat. Ian acknowledged being moved by the fact that the men present were able to feel comfortable enough to open up during the experience. “They expressed their frustrations, fears and hurts’” he said, recognizing that “this is especially difficult for men, yet it is important for healing and communication”.  

Since 2013, couples who are struggling through infertility have gathered each May for the annual St. Gerard’s Mass to pray together and support each other. As St Gerard’s expands to become an Outreach, it will now include a yearly retreat, to help spouses find some time to reflect and find strength to carry together this particular cross 

“It was definitely an event filled with the Holy Spirit and God’s mercy and love,” said Carillo. 

There are plans to hold a follow up event, mid or late summer, with Adoration and time for community building.  St. Gerard’s Outreach invites all couples going through a season of infertility to look out for this next outreach step. For more information visit

Click here to sign up for the free weekly newsletter from The Catholic Sun.