"You are truly such an important work and witness for the entire Church," said Archbishop Naumann
NEWS PROVIDED BYCourage International
July 21, 2021
ATCHISON, Kan., July 21, 2021 /Christian Newswire
/ -- From July 15-18, 2021 Courage and EnCourage members from around the world gathered together at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, for the apostolate's 34th Annual Conference. In light of this year being proclaimed by Pope Francis as the Year of Saint Joseph, the Annual Conference centered its theme on "Saint Joseph: Model of Courageous Love." Highlighting aspects of Saint Joseph's earthly life, the various talks and speakers throughout the conference aimed to inspire the Courage & EnCourage members in attendance by the saintly example of Jesus' foster father.
For the first time in the apostolate's history, the annual event was made available to registered attendees for both in-person attendance and digital attendance via Zoom livestream. The "hybrid" conference totaled over 700 registered attendees who participated in-person (240 in-person attendees) and tuned in digitally (480 virtual attendees) from almost every US state, five continents, and over 20 different countries.
"You are truly such an important work and witness for the entire Church," said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, D.D., of Kansas City, Kansas, during his homily at the conference's opening Mass, "Thank you for the heroic courage that you show for being a part of this ministry." Speaking on "Consecration to Jesus through St. Joseph," Dr. Greg Bottaro, the Director of the CatholicPsych Institute, commenced the weekend-long event on Thursday evening as the conference's keynote speaker. "We all need Jesus," said Dr. Bottaro during his opening speech, "and we all need Jesus' mom and dad."
Father Ricardo Pineda, CPM, a member of the Fathers of Mercy, spoke on Friday about Saint Joseph as the Chaste Spouse of Mary and the Virginal Father of Jesus. "No Joseph, no Jesus!," proposed Fr. Pineda in his Friday night talk, "Saint Joseph had a necessary role in the Incarnation of the Son of God."
Saturday offered the conference attendees several options, including further talks on Saint Joseph by Fr. Pineda and a series of talks on the experience of gender identity discordance (also called gender dysphoria) and its impact on individuals and families, by Dr. Christopher Gross of Divine Mercy University; Mary Rice Hasson, JD, founder of the Person & Identity Project at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., and Deacon Patrick Lappert, M.D., a Courage chaplain in the Diocese of Birmingham, Alabama, and a board certified plastic surgeon. "We can't give in to fear and frustration as we walk with others," suggested Dr. Gross in his reflection on Pope Francis' The Art of Accompaniment, "Our pace must be patient and steady." The evening closed with inspiring testimonies from Courage members Gary H. and Barb and a powerful witness from EnCourage couple George and Sharon.
The Annual Conference concluded on Sunday morning with the celebration of Mass by Archbishop Michael Byrnes of Agaña, Guam, and a closing speech on "Saint Joseph: Most Faithful and Obedient" by Courage International's executive director Father Philip Bochanski. "We become who we are only when we give ourselves away," Fr. Bochanski proposed as he wrapped up the four-day event, "It's the gift of self that shows us who we really are."
Attendees walked away from the conference with a renewed spirit of hope for themselves and for the Church. "For years I sought support from various Catholic organizations but have yet to experience the true peace and sense of belonging that I feel in this apostolate," said Enmanuel, a Courage member from Latin America who participated in the Annual Conference for his very first time this year, "Our Heavenly Father has revealed to me that this apostolate is where I need to be." Along with receiving spiritual refreshment, attendees also expressed a deeper post-conference connection with Christ's foster father. "I go to the Courage conference each year for spiritual renewal and family reunion," reflected Garrett, a member of the Washington D.C. Courage chapter, "But at this year's conference I also came to know my spiritual father St. Joseph better."
Like previous Courage & EnCourage Annual Conferences, this year's event included daily Mass, overnight Eucharistic Adoration, confessions, private meetings for Courage and EnCourage members, breakout sessions, and a social to conclude the conference on Saturday evening. Simultaneous interpretation of the English keynote talks was available for Spanish-speaking participants. Additional information and updates will be available at the event page: Annual Conference - Courage International, Inc. (couragerc.org/conference2021
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Background on Courage International and EnCourage
Courage International, Inc. is an apostolate of the Catholic Church which offers support to persons experiencing same-sex attractions who have chosen to live a chaste life. It was founded by Fr. John Harvey, OSFS at the request of the late Cardinal Terence Cooke. The first Courage chapter meeting was held in New York City in 1980, and it was this initial group which developed the Five Goals of Courage: Chastity, Prayer and Dedication, Fellowship, Support, and Good Example. Fr. Harvey was succeeded as executive director by Fr. Paul Check, who held the position from 2008 to the end of 2016. Fr. Check was then succeeded by Fr. Philip Bochanski in January, 2017. Today, Courage has more than 150 chapters in eighteen countries. Courage and EnCourage received canonical status in the Roman Catholic Church as a diocesan clerical public association of the faithful on November 28, 2016.
EnCourage is an apostolate under the Courage umbrella which provides support for families and friends of persons who identify as LGBT, and aims to teach them how to reach out to their loved ones with compassion and understanding. The group was first formed in 1987 by families in search of guidance for supporting their loved ones who experience same-sex attractions. In 1992, this group adopted the name EnCourage. Currently, they have more than seventy-five chapters in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, Italy, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.
For additional information, please visit our website at www.couragerc.org
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SOURCE Courage International
CONTACT: Fr. Philip Bochanski, 203-803-1564 ext. 7013, firstname.lastname@example.org