The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference hosted a special thank you dinner and bid farewell to Mrs Cheryl Curnow, Program Manager of Natural Fertility Australia (NFA), this week.
Over the last twenty years, Cheryl combined her strong work ethic, a commitment to her family and her faith, with her career at NFA.
Dedicated to raising her family, Cheryl gave up a promising career to care for her children, something she and her husband saw as a shared vocation. She describes the Curnow family as ‘very close’.
Cheryl returned to the paid workforce after more than a quarter of a century spent nurturing her family.
In 1996, Cheryl returned to university and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities and Social Sciences from Monash University with a major in Sociology and Gender Studies. Cheryl also received an invitation to join the Golden Key honour society.
At this time, the Australian Catholic Social Welfare Commission appointed Cheryl as Research Officer with the Family Planning Program. While continuing to study, Cheryl later achieved a Master’s degree in Management.
The Natural Family Planning Program Board of Management appointed Cheryl as Program Manager in the Natural Family Planning Program Secretariat in 1999.
In 2001, Cheryl completed the NFP Manual; a comprehensive document detailing the procedures and practices of the NFP Program for use by all service providers.
In 2006, the ACBC transferred the Natural Family Planning Program to the Secretariat for Pastoral Life under the governance of the Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life.
In 2009, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) decided to change the name of the Natural Family Planning Program to Natural Fertility Australia, to meet better the challenges of the changing environment in the delivery of natural family planning services.
In 2014, a coalition of funded agencies established a separate independent incorporated association, Fertility Education Australia Incorporated. Coinciding with the change in structure, Cheryl retired after nearly twenty years of service to the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.
Bishop of Wagga Wagga, Gerard Hanna, who recently completed three terms as Bishops’ Delegate for Natural Fertility in the Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life, praised Cheryl at the dinner for the immense contribution she had made to the promotion of natural fertility methods throughout Australia over nearly twenty years.
“You not only demonstrated a deep faith and genuine belief in natural fertility methods, but you were able to successfully combine this with your professional management of the whole process. This involved coordinating the ACBC’s desire to promote natural fertility with successive Commonwealth Government desire to fund such activities. It also involved the executive support of the Board and support of a number of disparate agencies around Australia and the different teaching methods on offer,” Bishop Hanna said to Cheryl in front of a small gathering of her colleagues.
Disability Projects Officer, Mrs Patricia Mowbray oam, acknowledged the initiative Cheryl had in co-developing and publishing a guideline on natural fertility methods designed for people with an intellectual disability.
In her retirement, Cheryl is looking forward to completing a Doctorate on Church and Governance. We wish her all the best in her studies.