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August 2023

The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist (cropped) by François Perrier (15th century)

On August 29 the Church celebrates the Memorial of the Passion of Saint John the Baptist. He serves as an example of speaking the truth with great courage, so much so that it cost him his life. 

Message from Our Associate Director

Dear friends,

Today we celebrate the feast day of the Beheading of John the Baptist. While the celebration of a saint on the day that they completed their witness to the Lord with their death is common enough, St. John the Baptist is the only person besides Our Lord and Our Lady whose nativity we also celebrate.

St. John the Baptist is the last and greatest of prophets from the Old Testament. He is the Forerunner spoken of in Isaiah 40 and Malachi 3, who is to prepare the way for Israel's Messiah. His martyrdom is a clear embracing of his cross in imitation of Christ, yet he prepared for this voluntarily by pursuing a rigorous monastic existence in the desert with the Essene community, from a young age. Christ himself testifies to John's holiness, "I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John the Baptist," yet John the Baptist is denied a vision of the fulfillment of his vocation until Christ has been raised from the dead and John is brought into heaven.

Here is our lesson: Our primary vocation comes from the universal call to holiness given in our Baptism, "Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." To do so we must continually turn to the Lord and better ourselves each day. Growth in holiness compounds. As we work on the small things over and over again, we become aware of the big things and they become easier to root out. As the big things are rooted out, the small things are more easily overcome. As our hearts are not pulled in so many directions, we become aware of the intimate presence of God in the mundane moments of our lives.

However, many of us, myself chief among you, get frustrated while dealing with one of the small things aforementioned, which then leads to greater sin as we blame ourselves for not being better. What is needed in the midst of those slings and arrows is a patient and humble submission to the Will of God to receive whatever is given in the present moment without a worry for the future, for that is not for us to be concerned about. How can I encounter what is before me with compassion? How can I give a free and loving response of myself in the present moment, despite my feelings?

The key is reframing our understanding of what is before us from an inconvenience to an opportunity, an opportunity to give ourselves to God without concern for a future return on my gift. This is why John was so effective in his ministry and why he did not worry that he had not seen the fullness of God's promise. God willed for him to fulfill a place in His plan for salvation, and John rejoiced that he might fulfill it, no matter the cost to himself. We, too, have been called to fulfill a place in God's plan for the salvation of the world, as Col 1:24 says, to "fill up those things that are lacking in the sacrifice of Christ."

Your suffering serves a unique and unrepeatable role in fulfilling the Father's plan for the salvation of the world. Rather than concerning ourselves with the possible reasons for our sufferings or the myriad meanings that might be inferred from them, perhaps we might begin to practice viewing the present moment as an opportunity to unite ourselves intimately and ever so briefly with the Father's Will with the whole of ourselves. Do this without a mind to some future time, proximate or remote. Calmly and compassionately set aside distractions until a later time and surrender yourself fully to the will of the Father. To begin you might even state, "For the next 30 seconds, I will commit myself completely to the will of the Father." I warn you — to practice this consistently will lead to a transformation in the life of grace.

God bless,

Father Colin Blatchford

Associate Director

Our executive director transition webpage



  • Annual Courage & EnCourage Conference Blesses Many
  • Q & A with Detroit's Courage Chaplain, Fr. Peter Ryan, SJ
  • "Unconditional Love Like You’ve Never Experienced"
  • Lots of Ways to Stay Connected

General Resources

  • Father Scalia on "Speaking the Truth in Love"


  • "Same-Sex Attraction & Finding Purpose"
  • Conversion Story of "Anna-Kate, Who Loved God Late"
  • Dawn of Mercy: Healing from Sexual Abuse and Assault


  • EnCourage Retreat in Minnesota September 29–October 1
  • Stay in Touch: Join the EnCourage Online Chat Group
  • Helping Children Struggling With Gender Identity
  • My Loved One and Same-Sex Marriage

Courage Internacional — For Spanish-Speaking Members and Friends

  • August Newsletter in Spanish

Pastoral Resources

  • Identity Crisis eBook Packed With Helpful Resources
  • Baltimore Guidelines for Parish Pastoral Care

Gender Identity Discordance

  • Identity Crisis eBook Packed With Helpful Resources
  • Baltimore Guidelines for Parish Pastoral Care



Annual Courage & EnCourage Conference Blesses Many

Over 300 people registered for our 2023 Courage & EnCourage Annual Conference that was held at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas from July 27 through July 30. Among them were approximately 50 virtual participants. The pre-conference clergy study day was exceptionally well-attended, with about 45 priests and deacons present. We've compiled a summary of some of the key highlights and best photos from our Facebook and Instagram for you to get an overview of this multi-faceted event. Many of the talks and homilies from the conference were recorded and will be uploaded soon to the Conference Presentations section on our website, under the Resources tab. We'll be sure to let you know when they are available.

Read about highlights of conference

View presentations from past conferences

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See lots more on the conference in our social media! Follow us for the

latest opportunities, news, resources, and inspiration.

Then spread the good news

by liking, retweeting, and sharing.

Q & A with Detroit's Courage Chaplain, Fr. Peter Ryan, SJ

In June Detroit Catholic interviewed Father Peter Ryan, SJ, past Courage board member and current chaplain for the Archdiocese of Detroit. He does an excellent job of explaining the goals of Courage, the flow of a typical Courage meeting, and the prudence of avoiding LGBTQ+ labels. He offers hope for overcoming temptation to sexual sin by relying on the Lord’s grace and mercy. He gives good counsel on how the Church can accompany people who experience same-sex attractions with winsome truth and genuine love. Father also provides wise insights regarding how to engage the culture and how to relate to loved ones who identify as LGBTQ+.

We should of course love everyone, and that means being genuinely interested in each person’s welfare, no matter how he or she self-identifies. But being interested in the welfare of others ultimately means wanting what is truly good for them, and we do not love them by giving them the impression that we approve of something that is morally wrong and harmful to them.

Read Fr. Ryan in "The Church and Same-Sex Attraction"

"Unconditional Love Like You’ve Never Experienced"

Gina Christian wrote a terrific story about Courage for OSV News which was picked up by multiple Catholic news outlets across the country. She begins with the story of Susan, a woman who had been in and out of same-sex relationships for over 30 years and was so enmeshed in the "LGBTQ+" culture that she helped to organize a pride parade in a major city. And then, by God's providence, through the FORMED Catholic content platform offered by a local parish, she found a video about Courage in which she saw other people like herself. Now she says, "Courage has literally saved my soul. … It’s unconditional love like you’ve never experienced in your life.” 

This story reminds us that we shouldn't underestimate the way God can use media to touch a soul and transform a life. Courage has been involved in the creation of two high-quality video productions, the Invited to Courage Love 5-part catechetical series, and the Desire of the Everlasting Hills testimonial documentary. We invite you to share these with others.

Read about Courage in "Unconditional Love Like You’ve Never Experienced"

Invited to Courage Love series on FORMED

Desire of the Everlasting Hills documentary

Lots of Ways to Stay Connected


Courage & EnCourage around the world

General Resources

Father Scalia on "Speaking the Truth in Love"

The Institute of Catholic Culture recently did a live-stream presentation with Father Paul Scalia on "Speaking the Truth in Love: Christianity and Homosexuality." Father Scalia is a member of the board of directors of Courage and served for many years as a Courage chaplain in the Diocese of Arlington. The show notes read, "Somewhere beyond the soundbites and stereotypes about the Church, we find her authentic teaching about human sexuality. The more we learn that teaching, the more we appreciate it as a great defender of love and freedom."

Father's focus is on how we love and care for the people in our lives who experience same-sex attractions. He equips listeners by first building a foundation with catechesis on the human person in general, including human sexuality, and then moving on to explain what the Church really teaches about homosexuality. He concludes with recommendations for how we should respond to individuals for whom this is a personal issue. Then there is a generous time for questions and answers.

View talk at the Institute of Catholic Culture (will need to become a member)

View "Speaking the Truth in Love" on YouTube


"Same-Sex Attraction & Finding Purpose"

Earlier this year, Father Philip Bochanski, the executive director of Courage from 2017 through mid-2023, spoke to a crowd of college students at FOCUS's SEEK23 conference. His presentation was on how persons who experience same-sex attractions can find purpose in their lives. We are all made to give and receive love, but that doesn't happen only in the context of marriage. We can experience love deeply in the treasure of friendship and especially by giving ourselves to others through spiritual motherhood or spiritual fatherhood.

View "Same-Sex Attraction & Finding Purpose"

Visit our YouTube channel for lots of helpful content,

especially in the playlists, Living With Courage, Young Adults,

and Catholicism and Same-Sex Attraction.

Subscribe, like, and share to spread the word.

Conversion Story of "Anna-Kate, Who Loved God Late"

CatholicVote sat down with Anna-Kate Howell for a recent edition of their LoopCast podcast. As described in their show notes:

Anna-Kate Howell’s story started out in a same-sex "marriage" pursuing Episcopalian "priesthood." After a beautiful encounter with Catholicism, she is studying to become a Catholic theologian, with her sights set on ministering to Catholics with same-sex attraction, but doing it right.

Watch Anna-Kate's conversion story

Or listen to the June 19 LoopCast episode on your favorite podcast app 

Dawn of Mercy: Healing from Sexual Abuse and Assault

Dawn of Mercy is a Catholic faith-based ministry for healing after sexual assault and abuse. Their mission is to offer healing to adults dealing with the painful aftereffects of sexual abuse as a child or sexual assault in adulthood. 

There are people everywhere who are hurting and need help. Have you or someone you know been a victim of sexual abuse or assault? Whether as a child or as an adult, there may still be a need for deeper healing from the lasting effects of this experience. Dawn of Mercy is here to help. Join others seeking support and healing through a 10-week online healing group or a weekend retreat. We have a healing group starting Monday, October 2 for English-speaking men. The next retreat, for English-speaking women, is September 8 – 10.

Visit Dawn of Mercy's website

Share your story on our blog

The Upper Room blog is where Courage and EnCourage members and chaplains share their stories of God's work in their lives. Go to CourageRC.org > Resources (dropdown) > Blog. Subscribe by clicking "Update profile" at the bottom of this email.

Send us an email if you'd like to submit your story


EnCourage Retreat in Minnesota September 29–October 1

Fall-2023-REtreat- image

Do you have loved ones who identify as LGBTQ+? Are you striving to maintain a loving relationship with them while continuing to uphold the wisdom and truth found in the teachings of the Church?

We invite you to join us on our EnCourage Fall retreat: a special weekend of prayer and reflection exclusively for family and friends of people who experience same-sex attractions or gender identity discordance. Together, we’ll seek God’s guidance in cultivating peace of heart, mind, and spirit as we share our journeys with one another and grow closer to the One who created us all.

Send an email to 2023midwestencretreat@gmail.com for more information or to register.

Registration is now open!

Send us an email to register

Deadline to sign up is September 18

Stay in Touch: Join the EnCourage Online Chat Group

Would you like to be able to keep in touch with other EnCourage members on a regular basis for support from fellow Catholics who are carrying similar crosses? There are active, ongoing discussions happening all the time in our EnCourage Online Slack chat groups. There you can ask for prayers, share resources, seek input for challenging situations, and more. 

Here's how to participate:

  • First, read the Chat Groups Overview.
  • Then click the “Register Now” button or go to the registration page.
  • When you fill out the registration form, you may select “Yes” for both EnCourage Online and Courage & EnCourage Together. 
  • You will get a confirmation email when your registration is approved. Be sure to hang on to the email as it has the link that gives you access to the chat groups. 

Chat groups overview

Chat group registration

Helping Children Struggling With Gender Identity

Samantha Stephens wrote an invaluable piece for Our Sunday Visitor that equips parents with understanding and practical recommendations if their child is experiencing gender identity discordance. First she outlines the facts about the problems with the mainstream approach that pushes “affirmation” as the only course of treatment. Her explanations are replete with links to informative sources that provide more details. She then goes on to list several recommendations for parents: listen well, pray with your child, find a trustworthy provider, seek out sources that affirm a true understanding of sexual identity, and be willing to make tough sacrifices to protect your child. 

Above all, remind your child of the beauty and intricacy of God’s design for his or her identity — including his or her body — and that in all things, even this, God works for the good of those who love him (cf. Rom 8:28). The road we are called to travel may be difficult, but as St. Teresa of Kolkata reminds us, “Love demands sacrifice. But if we love until it hurts, God will give us his peace and joy.” God will never call us to do something we cannot do — with the help of his grace. God made you the parent of this child for a reason. It is your ferocious love — and God’s — that your child needs most.

Read "How to help a child struggling with gender identity"

My Loved One and Same-Sex Marriage

Your son, daughter, or sibling has announced that they are getting married to their same-sex partner. How do you respond with love, without betraying your Catholic faith?

Father Philip Bochanski addresses this dilemma in which more and more Catholic families find themselves. 

Questions answered in this video: 

0:10 – My son/daughter is getting married to their same-sex partner. Can I attend the wedding?

4:49 – How do I tell my loved one that I can't attend their wedding?

8:26 – What if my relationship with my loved one is permanently damaged because I didn't attend their wedding to their same-sex partner?

View "My loved one and same-sex marriage"

View the rest of our EnCourage: A Family of Hope playlist on YouTube

For Spanish Speaking Members and Friends

August Newsletter in Spanish

August Courage & EnCourage newsletter in Spanish

Subscribe to the Spanish-language newsletter

Courage Internacional website in Spanish


Couragerc.org/español | Contáctanos

Para suscribirse al boletín en español | Archivo

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Pastoral Resources

Identity Crisis eBook Packed With Helpful Resources

EDIFY has created an eBook called Identity Crisis: A Catholic Response to LGBT which was compiled to serve as a "key to understanding and challenging the gender ideology attacking schools, law, medicine, businesses, and our children." The eBook includes six chapters, each beginning with a short essay by a well-respected expert, followed by links to supplemental videos and further reading. There are also discussion questions which facilitate the use of this resource for a group study program in the parish and beyond. The topics covered are:

  1. "How Did We Get Here?" by Mary Eberstadt
  2. "When Gender Identity Wins, Females Lose" by Mary Hasson
  3. "The Transgender Threat" by Ryan Anderson 
  4. "Heartbreaking Story of Child Transition" 
  5. "Biology is not Misogyny: On Sexual Complementarity" by Jackie Angel
  6. "The REAL Pastoral Approach to LGBT" by Fr. Philip Bochanski 

Get your copy of Identity Crisis

Baltimore Guidelines for Parish Pastoral Care

In July, Archbishop William E. Lori of the Archdiocese of Baltimore issued guidelines for pastoral accompaniment in parish ministry to persons who identify as LGBT and their families. In the document, entitled “Like Every Disciple," he emphasizes that these individuals, "like every human person, … were created with a desire for intimacy with Christ" and are called "to a lifelong journey of turning toward the Lord, seeking to know and love Him more and more deeply each day." In the guidelines he strives to answer the question of how the Church can "offer pastoral accompaniment" that "truly welcomes and embraces them while faithfully teaching the truth about human sexuality that God has revealed in creation, Scripture, and Tradition."

Read Archbishop Lori's pastoral letter "Like Every Disciple"

Read Catholic Review story about pastoral letter (featuring Courage member!)

Truth & Love, an initiative of Courage International, is a multifaceted Catholic resource for anyone seeking the tools to support men and women who experience same-sex attractions.



Conference videos


Gender Identity Discordance

"Truth, Sex, and Gender"

The Diocese of Arlington featured Father Paul Scalia, current member and former chairman of the board of Courage and Episcopal Vicar for Clergy for the diocese, in an article for their website and a companion video podcast. 

He introduces his article: "What the church proposes in the public square is not uniquely or exclusively Catholic. It is the truth of the human person accessible to all people." He then goes on to outline with concise clarity three principle points of Church teaching that contribute a great deal to the cultural discussion.

In the video, Father "discusses issues of sexuality and gender identity in light of the truth revealed in Church teaching." He "point[s] to Church teaching on the human person and the dignity of the human body and offer[s] insight into how this guides our understanding of gender identity."

Read Fr. Scalia's "Truth, Sex, and Gender" in the Arlington Catholic Herald

Watch Father discuss the subject in an interview

"The Truth Behind Transgenderism"

Mary Hasson is a member of the board of Courage and the co-founder of the extremely helpful Person and Identity Project, which assists Catholic parents, schools, and parishes in promoting a Catholic vision of the human person and responding to the challenges of gender ideology. She recently appeared in a short animated video for EDIFY in which she talks about the shocking fact that "nearly 10% of high school students identify as transgender or gender diverse." She then dispels some of the myths about transgenderism. She also was a guest on a full-length episode of the EDIFY Podcast about "The Truth Behind Transgenderism." She and host Mary FioRito discuss important questions, like "How did this issue gain so much momentum? What happens when you pause puberty? How can we help our kids and stop this social contagion?" 

Listen to podcast on "The Truth Behind Transgenderism"

View short video "Born in the Wrong Body"

Be Sure to Check Out the Rest of the Newsletter!

Don't miss the resources related to the question of gender identity we've included elsewhere in this newsletter:


EnCourage Retreat

September 29–October 1, 2023

Minneapolis, Minnesota


Spanish Courage & EnCourage Day of Recollection

Southern California 

Late 2023 Date TBD

More information coming soon. Watch events calendar.

Courage and EnCourage Retreat

Southern California 

November 17–19, 2023

More information: socalcourageretreat@gmail.com

Also watch events calendar

Watch our Events Calendar regularly for updates.

NOTE TO CHAPLAINS: You are encouraged and more than welcome to participate in all Courage & EnCourage events. Please feel free to reach out to the event organizer to see how you can be involved.

Photo credits:

Disclaimer: Courage does not necessarily fully endorse all of the ideas included in resources that are not produced by Courage, but we still like to share items that we and our members have found to have considerable helpful content.

Donations gratefully accepted

CourageRC.org | TruthandLove.com | 203.803.1564 | Contact us

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