Our Beginnings Our Direction

Drs. John and Lynn Billings and Fr. James Sweeney with Therese Maes, founding President of CANFP

On March 25, 1993, a group of individuals from throughout California founded the California Association of Natural Family Planning. Its first conference, presented in both English and Spanish, was held at the Marriott Hotel in Santa Clara, and featured  Drs. John and Lyn Billings as keynote speakers.

At first glance it may seem to have been a foolish thing to do: why would anyone want to promote natural methods of family planning? The only religious body still clinging to the idea that each act of intercourse ought to, by its very nature, be open to human life was the Catholic Church. Of her members, it was estimated that less than 5% actually adhered to that age old teaching repeated in 1968 in Humanae Vitae. In short, why bother?

Board Meeting Early Years

CANFP Board Meeting in the Early Years

The founders saw a direct connection between understanding one’s body and knowing one’s fertility. They believed the direct connection between actually knowing one’s fertility and using that knowledge to conceive a child could empower women to choose life not abortion. They understood the direct connection between choosing to bring new life into the world and building strong families. They experienced a direct connection between sacrificing immediate gratification for the common good and living more loving lives. They understood what it means to “create a culture of life”.

Since our beginning in 1993, CANFP has increased understanding and acceptance of scientific, modern, effective natural methods through statewide conferences and regional events, professional development seminars for healthcare workers, clergy and seminarians, quarterly print publications, social media, exhibiting at events throughout the state, and consulting and collaborating with clergy, parishes, prolife organizations, and healthcare providers throughout California, and beyond.

CANFP has united under one umbrella all those who use, teach, and advocate for NFP, and our members are our strongest resource: the physicians who provide authentic women’s healthcare, the Practitioners and Certified Teachers of all the natural methods instructing couples in its use, the couples who use NFP and reflect its values in their families and communities, the clergy providing the spiritual formation and context, and the churches, dioceses, hospitals, and prolife organizations who collaborate in providing access to these services throughout the state.

The generation that preceded us warned of the danger of widespread contraceptive use, for women, men, families, and the culture at large. The founders of CANFP built a strong collaboration of committed visionaries to serve those who reject the contraceptive culture, or who, having experienced its negative effects, seek a better way. A new generation is filling the ranks of CANFP, and the need for our message is more urgent than ever, amidst mounting evidence of the serious health risks of hormonal contraception, and undeniable harm it has wrought relationally, spiritually, and culturally.

Dr. Janet Smith 2008 CANFP Conference

Dr. Janet Smith Presents at 2008 Statewide Conference in San Bernardino

Whether you are of the generation that saw it coming (or wish you had) or of the new generation who has come of age in the contraceptive culture and knows from personal experience and observation the need for CANFP, we invite you to JOIN US, confident we bring good news to all of good will!


Terry Maes
San Jose, CA

CANFP Founding President: Therese Maes envisioned and established the California Association of Natural Family Planning in 1992, while in her position as the Family Life Director of the Diocese of San Jose, and served as its first President until 1995. She taught Natural Family Planning in the San Jose region in the 1970s and 80s, and as an Educator for the Creighton Model she trained a generation of Creighton Model teachers for Northern California. She has served on the Advisory Board of CANFP since her retirement from the Executive Board in 2000.