Truth and Love Conference will offer tools to minister to those experiencing same-sex attraction

Courage International
Truth and Love Conference

courage-logo-small2When: Jan. 9-11

Where: St. Paul Parish, 330 W. Coral Gables Dr.

Cost: Varies on attendance

Registration and other info: truthandlove.com

To participate in a Courage chapter, contact Fr. John Greb at (480) 775-5200 or frgreb@diocesephoenix.org.

When Jeff, who experiences same-sex attraction, started attending Courage meetings, he said he no longer felt he was by himself.

“When you’re dealing with this, you think you’re the only person dealing with these issues,” he said. “It breaks the isolation.”

Jeff is a member of the Diocese of Phoenix Courage Chapter. Founded in New York City in 1980, Courage International aims to minister to individuals dealing with same-sex attraction and help them live their lives chastely and faithfully according to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

With a sensitive topic like homosexuality, those serving in pastoral ministries are not always equipped the tools to address them, which is why Courage and the Diocese of Phoenix are hosting the “Truth and Love Conference” Jan. 9-11 at St. Paul Parish. The theme of this year’s conference is “Welcoming and accompanying our brothers and sisters with same-sex attractions or confusion regarding sexual identity.”

Speakers for the “Truth and Love Conference” include:
ARCHBISHOP GOMEZ IMMIGRATIONArchbishop José H. Gómez, of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles
drjanetsmithheadshotDr. Janet Smith, renown expert on Humanae Vitae
jasonevertheadshotJason Evert, of the Chastity Project
drjenniferrobackmorseheadshotDr. Jennifer Roback Morse,
of the Ruth Institute

Courage’s incoming executive director Fr. Phil Bochanski said that the conference is not only geared to clergy and religious, but also for those lay faithful working in ecclesial ministry, as well as medical and mental health professionals.

“The priests in the parish and others in diocesan ministry are on the frontlines so we work very hard to equip them,” said Fr. Bochanski.

Presenters include Archbishop Michael Byrnes, coadjutor archbishop of Agaña, Guam, Fr. Bochanski, Dr. Janet Smith, Jason Evert and Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, among others.

“The work of Courage International, helping those with same-sex attraction to build friendships and virtue, and helping the Church to share the Good News of Christ in a challenging area, is essential in our time,” said Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted in a press release. “I encourage all who have pastoral responsibilities to join us at the Conference this January in Phoenix. It will help you to grow in knowledge and fellowship.” Bishop Olmsted and Archbishop José H. Gómez of Los Angeles will celebrate the Mass.

The conference will also feature some testimonies from individuals who experience same-sex attractions or sexual-identity confusion, and how chaste friendships and the teachings of the Church have helped them on their journey toward chastity and sanctity. Outgoing executive director Fr. Paul Check said that Courage’s greatest ambassadors for the Church’s teachings on homosexuality are its members.

“Our people have a particular challenge because there’s not very many people who are sympathetic. The world has made up it’s on this some time ago,” he said. “Our people are signs of contradiction and it takes a great grace to live out against these cultural forces.”

Before she converted to Catholicism, Alyssa, another member of the Phoenix chapter, left her husband with whom she’d had four children because she was convinced she was a lesbian. Though she’d already left the lifestyle when she spoke with chaplain Fr. John Greb several years ago she still felt she needed healing.

“It was an important part of my healing journey,” she said.