Submitted by Father Jeffrey Keefe, OFM Conv.
The 25th annual Courage Conference, held at St Mary’s University in Mundelein, Ill., July 25 to 28, attracted 325 members, mostly men with same-sex attraction, some women, a number of their parents, plus 40 priests of the Archdiocese of Chicago who took part in the special priests’ track to introduce them to this ministry.
Courage is the outreach of the Church to support homosexual men and women who choose to follow the moral teachings of the Church and pursue chastity. EnCourage is a separate ministry to concerned parents and relatives. Courage was founded by Father John Harvey, OSFS at the request of Cardinal Terrence Cook, Archbishop of New York. Father Jeffrey Keefe, OFM Conv. assisted Father Harvey with the first chapter in New York City in 1980, and now serves as chaplain to the Syracuse diocesan chapter. Father Harvey remained at the helm until shortly before his passing in 2011 at age 92. Pope John Paul II labeled Courage “the work of God.”
Members in attendance were from across the U.S. and Canada. There also were single delegates from England, Australia, Italy, Mexico and El Salvador. Courage now has units in at least a dozen countries.
The opening and closing Masses and homilies were offered by Most Rev. John LeVoir, former Courage director in St. Paul, Minn., now bishop of New Ulm, Minn. His eminence Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago and longtime promoter, offered a general session Mass and gave the homily. Father Paul Check, international director, gave a general session talk on finding one’s strength in the joy of the Lord and offered the closing Mass.
Major addresses were given by Dr. Bill Consiglio and Rev. Andrew Comiskey, long-term prominent Protestant leaders and authors who work with homosexual persons trying to live in accord with Biblical moral standards. Both men recently entered the Catholic Church. Among the speakers was Father Paul Scalia, son of the Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, whose topic was “Fearing of the Lord…and not being afraid.” Father Keefe mentored a workshop on “Why do I keep falling? … a question that haunts us,” dealing with non-sexual triggers to sexual acting out.
Some of the talks will be available on the Courage website, www.couragerc.org. For further information on the Syracuse Courage/EnCourage chapter, confidential inquiry is available with Father Keefe at (315) 422-6233.