I always considered myself pro-life. I was born and raised in a Catholic family, receiving all the Sacraments in a timely fashion. My Father was ordained a permanent Deacon when I was in high school. I attended a Catholic grade/high school and university. I married a Catholic woman, married 26 years now! We are raising our children in the Catholic Church, and they attend Catholic schools.

I always considered myself pro-life. In 2007, I completed my residency in Family Medicine and found a job in Aberdeen, SD. One of my mentors and partners was Dr. David Wachs. A gentle, quiet soul, Dr. Wachs had converted to Catholicism when he got married. For several years, he would gently tap me on the shoulder and tell me about natural family planning (NFP). He encouraged me to consider going to the Pope Paul VI Institute in Omaha, NE to become a NFP medical consultant. I was practicing medicine as it is taught in most medical schools and residencies, prescribing contraception and performing vasectomies. I heard of NFP, but knew little about it. I do not even recall hearing about it in my own marriage preparation in 1992.

I always considered myself pro-life. Starting in 2010, I began to search my heart about this NFP “stuff” and felt called to engage further, but was afraid to change my medical practice. I worried that I would lose patients. I read about it and spoke with Dr. Wachs further. In 2011, our Bishop, Most. Rev. Paul Swain from the Diocese of Sioux Falls, was taking a group of people to the Holy Land and the Vatican to celebrate his 5th anniversary as our bishop. To make a long story short, I attended this pilgrimage with my Father, Deacon Henry Knapp and my Uncle George Knapp from New York and a dear friend of the family, Fr. Ed Pierce. It was a “prayer trip” for me. I asked God to “give me guidance on how to practice medicine in our culture as a Catholic.” To my surprise there were three other physicians attending this pilgrimage, the previously mentioned Dr. David Wachs, as well as Dr. Glenn Ridder and Dr. May Jane Gaetze. All three physicians were promoting NFP in their practices and all were Certified Natural Family Planning Medical Consultants through the Pope Paul VI Institute.

I am pro-life. The pilgrimage changed my life in two ways. First, it gave me a greater perspective and understanding of the Gospels. I was able to stand in the villages where Jesus performed his first miracle, where Jesus preached his parables, where Jesus asked his Father to “take this cup from me”, where Jesus was persecuted, died and was Risen. Second, I knew that I needed to stop prescribing contraception, stop performing vasectomies, and embrace NFP. I heard loud and clear: “Be not afraid”. After receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation from Fr. Ed Pierce in Jerusalem, I became pro-life. I wrote a letter to my partners and informed them of my decision. I then enrolled in medical consultant training through the Pope Paul VI Institute. It was there I first heard of Humanae Vitae. I wanted to know more about it. When I got an e-mail about the CANFP sponsored Faithful to God’s Design: Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae–I had to sign-up. I attended with my father, as well as my partner, Dr. Wachs and his wife Marilyn. It was so empowering and enlightening to be with a room full of people excited about their faith and this Encyclical. I have shared Humanae Vitae with my family and friends, and with my men’s prayer group. I have attended the March For Life in Washington, D.C. three times with my Father and children. I have joined Life Runners. I share life with my patients in a new way. I am not afraid. I am pro-life.

Dr. Michael Knapp, shown here with his wife Catherine, traveled from South Dakota with his father Deacon Knapp (see HERE for Deacon Knapp’s article) page ten) to attend the HV50 celebration. Dr. Knapp, a family physician in Aberdeen, is currently pursuing certification as a medical consultant through the American Academy of FertilityCare Professionals.