Infertility event will combine education, support, faith

| Jennifer Janikula for The Catholic Spirit | September 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

Panel members include couples who have experienced infertility, doctor, adoption expert and priest

Deacon Darrel and Chris Branch, parishioners at St. Gabriel the Archangel in Hopkins, spent 20 years hoping and grieving before they accepted that children were not part of God’s plan for their life.

When Darrel and Chris got married in 1985, their dreams for the future included a house full of children. After 12 months without conceiving, a doctor confirmed that natural conception would be impossible for the young couple.

After a few more years, their dream became a house full of adopted children. Unfortunately, the adoption agency required the full $15,000 fee in advance. Darrel and Chris did not have that much cash on hand and did not have enough equity in their home to obtain a loan.

Four years later, when they were financially prepared to adopt, Darrel was diagnosed with cancer. The adoption social worker informed the Branches that the cancer diagnosis dramatically reduced their chances of being selected by a birth mother as adoptive parents.

“The doors kept closing,” Darrel said. “God had other plans for us.”

Prayer brings acceptance

Daily prayer slowed and leveled the Branches’ roller coaster ride. Their prayer habit started with a shared daily rosary during Lent more than 10 years ago and has progressed to daily morning and evening prayers.

“We had our ups and downs through married life, but when we started praying as a couple — joining together in prayer — we gradually found acceptance and healing,” Chris said.

Ordained a deacon in 2004, Darrel looks back and sees God guiding him and Chris through their struggle.

“It forced us to develop a deeper communication with each other and with God,” Darrel explained. “God was preparing us, in a way, for the diaconate. It was a big leap for us to follow what he wanted.”

Infertility support

It’s no surprise that Darrel and Chris chose infertility outreach as one of their primary ministries as a diaconate couple. As hosts of the infertility support group “In His Time,” Darrel and Chris have shared their story with dozens of couples over the last 10 years.

The group, which meets on the second Monday of each month on the St. John the Evangelist campus of St. Gabriel the Archangel in Hopkins, offers understanding, compassion and guidance for couples working through infertility issues.

Darrel and Chris will also participate in an infertility panel discussion from 7 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 8, in the social hall on the St. Joseph campus of St. Gabriel. The event is sponsored by the St. Gabriel the Archangel pro-life committee and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ Office of Marriage, Family and Life.

In addition to the Branches, the panel includes a second couple who has struggled with infertility, a Catholic adoption expert, a doctor with knowledge of Natural Family Planning, and Father John Floeder, who will summarize Catholic teachings about conception.

Infertility panel discussionFree and open to the public

7 – 9 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 8
St. Gabriel the Archangel,
St. Joseph’s campus Social Hall
1310 Mainstreet, Hopkins

For more information, contact Kathleen Esh at

Father Floeder, instructor of moral theology and dean of seminarians at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, hopes attendees will leave the event with a deeper understanding of the gift of life.

“The love of God for us as human beings is tremendous and overpowering,” Father Floeder said. “As Christ showed us, we can even be willing to take on things we wouldn’t choose. By showing life the value and reverence it deserves, struggle is always for a greater overriding ‘Yes!’ to life and love.”

During the infertility discussion, Father Floeder, the Branches and other panel members will speak and answer questions. Refreshments, prayer cards and fellowship will follow the discussion.

For more information about St. Gabriel’s infertility panel discussion event and the infertility support group hosted by Chris and Darrel Branch, email or

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