There are several of the Pope Paul VI Institute’s employees who have served the Institute for many years, and this is especially true for Jean and Vern Packard. While Jean’s tenure at the Institute dates back to its founding in 1985, she has worked with Pope Paul VI Institute founder, Dr. Thomas Hilgers, since 1978 when she was hired by Hilgers to fill a grant-funded position.
“I was working at Creighton at the time, and when the opportunity to work with Dr. Hilgers became available, I knew I just had to work for this man who had this fire in his eyes when he spoke about his research,” Packard recounts of her decision to take the position.
It was seven years later when Packard followed Dr. Hilgers to the newly-founded Pope Paul VI Institute, which occupied the second and third floors of the newly-built structure at 6901 Mercy Road. At that time, she completed the one-year FertilityCare Practitioner Program.
Over the next 30 years, the Institute would eventually take over the entire three-story building, and Packard would perform a number of roles, primarily as Personal Administrator to Dr. Hilgers for 25 years. She also served as editor of the 2004 publication of the Institute, “In Their Own Words: Women Healed.”
In addition to this, Packard also developed newsletters and brochures, and for 10 years, she coordinated the Institute’s affiliate organization, FertilityCare Centers of America (FCCA).
“It’s been amazing working for Dr. Hilgers. He has been so supportive of me and my development as a professional,” Packard says of her time working with Hilgers. “With his encouragement, I served on the American Academy of FertilityCare Professionals board of directors, including a one-year term as president. I grew from someone who dreaded public speaking to regularly speaking to groups of physicians and teachers.”
In addition to the many professional accomplishments Packard experienced as an Institute employee, it is her return to the Catholic faith that is among the most meaningful effects of her tenure.
“The witness of the staff here and of Dr. Hilgers had a tremendous impact on me,” Packard says.
This impact is not limited to Jean, but also her husband, Vern, who has served as a volunteer at the Institute for many years. Together, the two of them have become good friends with the Hilgers, with Dr. Hilgers serving as Vern’s confirmation sponsor. “It is spiritually gratifying to see just how committed the Hilgers are to their work here,” Vern says. “This includes Tom, Sue, and their children.”
His wife, Jean, echoes these sentiments. “Dr. Hilgers has shown us to stick by our faith, regardless of the veracity of the attacks,” Jean shares. “He never wavers from his beliefs and this is imparted to patients, staff, Creighton Model and NaProTechnology providers and all those he encounters. It’s been such an honor and blessing to be involved in this groundbreaking health care which helps build strong marriages and healthy families.”