Courage conference to center on friendship

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Courage International, an apostolate for people with same-sex attraction, is preparing for its annual conference next month, which will focus on the importance of friendship.

The conference, for people who experience same-sex attraction and for the families of those identifying as LGBT, will be held July 18-21 at Mundelein Seminary, near Chicago. The theme of the conference is "Courageous Friendship: Inspiring Hope and Renewal."

Father Philip Bochanski, Courage's executive director, likened the event to a family reunion, where individuals may grow in a community that helps them in the pursuit of chastity.

"Every year, our Annual Conference often feels more like a family reunion than a conference. It's a special opportunity for our members to reconnect with old friends, and to form new friendships with those who understand their experience and their journey," said Fr. Bochanski.

"Learning how to foster chaste, generous friendships is central to our work at Courage, but is also essential for the Christian," he added.

"In our friendships, we learn to love others because God loves them, in the same way that God loves them. When we do this, we find that we're drawn out of ourselves in a way that gives us the ability to grow, and to start to live with the life of Christ", Fr. Bochanski said.

A clergy day July 17 will prepare clerics and religious on how best to minister to people with same-sex attraction.

Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto, who will attend the conference, called Courage "a great sign of hope."

With more than 150 chapters across 18 countries, Courage International looks to support individuals with same-sex attraction who have decided to live a chaste life.

The conference attendees will be able to hear a variety of discussions, consisting of topics such as pastoral ministry and psychology. Participants will also be able to be involved with opportunities of prayer, like daily Mass, confession, and Eucharistic adoration.

The speakers at the event will include Adam Minihan and David Niles, hosts of The Catholic Man Show; Avera Maria Santo, a young adult blogger and member of courage; Mary Rice Hasson, the director of the Catholic Women's Forum; Mark Houck, co-founder and president of The King's Men; and Father Michael Gaitley, Director of Evangelization of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception.

Founded by Fr. John Harvey, the first Courage chapter meeting was held in 1980. The five foundational goals of Courage are chastity, prayer, fellowship, support, and good examples.

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