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Courage to hold regional retreat October 28

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(CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)

By Gail Finke

Courage, a ministry for people who have same-sex attractions, will hold a day-long retreat on Oct. 28 to reach out to potential members, and in hopes of beginning a related ministry for families.

Founded in New York in 1980 to help Catholics live in accordance with the teachings of the Church in a culture that encourages them not to, Courage now has 100 chapters around the country. Member priests, called “Courageous Clergy,” are specially trained to help with spiritual, social, and family issues. Sub-groups for women, Latino men and women, teens, spouses, and people who have discerned a vocation to pray for sins against human sexuality in the spirit of Fatima have all grown out of the original Courage groups. But the need, local supporters said, is still great.

“With the advancement of the strident agenda of the sexual revolution, there’s an ongoing call to give in to fantasy,” said Father Kyle Schnippel, chaplain for the Courage chapter for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. “But we need to speak the truth about sexuality, and that a greater relationship with Christ brings joy and peace.”

Father Schnippel, who is also the pastor of St. John Neumann and Corpus Christi Churches in Cincinnati, said Courage provides members with much-needed fellowship. Not only does it give members
the opportunity to speak and pray with people who have similar struggles, he said, but it also removes a sexual dimension from those interactions.

“For those who experience same-sex attraction, finding support for living a chaste life is often difficult,” he explained. “And for many members, it’s the first time they’ve had a good, holy, disinterested friendship” with someone of the same sex.

“They help each other carry the cross,” he said. “And for many, developing friendships inside the network helps them form better friendships outside the network.”

Courage was established three years ago in the archdiocese, and has steadily developed a small core membership of half a dozen men (although Courage is open to men and women, so far the members here have all been men) who attend its weekly meetings, as well as a larger group of people who attend frequently. Father Schnippel said the group is now ready to grow, and would like to start a second group for family members. “EnCourage” helps the parents, siblings, friends, and other loved ones of people with same-sex attraction understand them and reach out to them with compassion. People interested in joining or supporting either group are welcome to attend the retreat, which will be free and discrete.

“All of us have something in our lives that we can point to and say, ‘because of X, I’m different from everyone else,’” Father Schnippel said. “The Evil One can use this against us. But the reality is that in the life of a disciple, carrying our cross helps us become better Catholics, closer to the Lord, and a better example of what it means to be a Christian. Courage can help with that.”

The retreat willl include Mass, prayer time, lunch, testimony from current members, and two talks: a morning talk on chastity as a path to joy and fulfillment, and an afternoon talk about pastoral accompaniment in the thought of St. Francis.

“There’s no cost, but free will donations will be accepted,” he said. “The overall goal is prayer, fellowship, and finding God in the midst of our journey with one another.”

For information and reservations, and for the location of the conference, contact Father Kyle Schnippel at 513-368-4715 or email courage@catholiccincinnati.org.

The five principles of Courage:

1.    To live chaste lives in accordance with the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality. (Chastity)

2.    To dedicate our entire lives to Christ through service to others, spiritual reading, prayer, meditation, individual spiritual direction, frequent attendance at Mass, and the frequent reception of the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist. (Prayer and Dedication)

3.    To foster a spirit of fellowship in which we may share with one another our thoughts and experiences, and so ensure that no one will have to face the problems of homosexuality alone. (Fellowship)

4.    To be mindful of the truth that chaste friendships are not only possible but necessary in a chaste Christian life; and to encourage one another in forming and sustaining these friendships. (Support)

5.    To live lives that may serve as good examples to others. (Good Example/Role Model)

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