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March 2023

Saints Perpetua and Felicity support each other as together they embrace their shared cross of martyrdom.

Message from Our Director

Dear Friends,

I hope that your Lent has been fruitful so far. During these weeks, the Church’s calendar of saints is rather sparse — apart from the solemnities of St Joseph and the Annunciation — to allow us to focus on penance and sacrifice. Among the few saints whose commemorations always fall during Lent are two third-century catechumens and martyrs, Saint Perpetua and Saint Felicity. Saint Perpetua was a wealthy and well-educated young woman of 22 years, and mother of a newborn child. The diary she kept during her imprisonment is the oldest work written by a Christian woman. Saint Felicity was a young slave in Perpetua’s household, and was eight months pregnant when she was arrested. She gave birth in prison, and the two women walked together into the arena in Carthage, to be wounded and killed by wild beasts.


In their last moment, these saints followed Saint Paul’s admonition to the first Christians to “greet one another with a holy kiss” (Rom 16:16; 1 Cor 16:20; 2 Cor 13:12; 1 Thes 5:26), and met their martyrdom side by side. They proved Saint Paul’s claim that among Christians “there is neither … slave nor free … for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28). The story of their martyrdom was read aloud annually in Carthage and beloved by the Church there. Saint Augustine mentioned the practice more than two hundred years later, and had to remind his congregation that the diary was not actually part of Sacred Scripture!


Social media posts and online searches for Perpetua and Felicity today, however, will also include a number of articles with titles like “Perpetua and Felicity: Patron Saints of Same-Sex Couples”, and modern “icons” that make a great deal more of their “holy kiss” than Saint Paul would have. It is an unfortunate contemporary trend to look at historical figures of all sorts and read into stories of close friendship and shared lives a romantic or sexual connection for which there is no historical evidence, only modern speculation. As C.S. Lewis once wrote, in The Four Loves, “On a broad historical view it is, of course, not the demonstrative gestures of Friendship among our ancestors but the absences of such gestures in our own society that calls for some special explanation. We, not they, are out of step.”


Seeing everything through a lens of sexual desire, as modern people are prone to do, leads to a skewed understanding of intimacy and love. Society decides that every strong feeling must be a sexual feeling, and that the only real relationships are sexual relationships. Coming from this perspective, of course the world imagines that a life without a sexual partner must be lonely, depressing and pointless! But we know better. As Lewis points out and the Gospel confirms, there are many types of love, and the virtue of chastity, by keeping sexual intimacy in its proper place, sets us free to pursue charity, affection and especially friendship with authenticity and joy.


At the Last Supper, as part of his “farewell discourse” to his apostles, Jesus says, “No longer do I call you servants … but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (Jn 15:15). These days of Lent call us to prepare our hearts to celebrate once again the Paschal Triduum, which begins at that same Last Supper table. May our penance and sacrifice provide a holy silence in which we can hear what the Lord wants to make known to us. And may the intercession of Saint Perpetua and Saint Felicity strengthen our resolve to live chaste lives, authentic friendship, and the great charity which consists in laying down our lives with and for each other, in witness to Christ Jesus.


May God bless these holy days for you and your loved ones.


Father Philip G. Bochanski

Executive Director



  • Mark Your Calendar! Annual Conference July 27–30 
  • Happy 10th Anniversary, Pope Francis!
  • Courage and EnCourage at Florida Men's Conference
  • On the Holy Father's Comments on Same-Sex Attractions
  • "Radical Inclusion Requires Radical Love"
  • New Chapters

The Upper Room Blog

  • Friendship Must Be Cultivated
  • Musings on Same-Sex Attraction from Ireland


  • "The Truth Brings Joy!" — A Call for Clarity
  • "Embracing the Challenges of Friendship"
  • Spiritual Friendship: Bond of Christian Charity


  • "Children Who Stray: Once a Mother, Always a Mother"
  • EnCourage Chapter Featured in Diocesan News

Courage Internacional — For Spanish-Speaking Members and Friends

  • We Have a YouTube Channel in Spanish!
  • March Newsletter in Spanish

Pastoral Resources

  • Key US Bishops Document Guides Our Apostolate
  • More Diocesan Policies on Gender Ideology

Gender Identity Discordance

  • A Powerful New Documentary: Dysconnected



Mark Your Calendar! Annual Conference July 27–30

Theme: "Courageous Love Made Perfect: The Eucharist in Action"

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Conference web page — details coming soon

Happy 10th Anniversary, Pope Francis!

March 13 will mark the tenth anniversary of the election of Pope Francis to the Chair of Peter. We are grateful for his spiritual fatherhood over the past decade and offer our prayers as he continues to shoulder the burden of serving as the shepherd of the Universal Church.

Lord Jesus Christ, son of God and son of Mary, we praise you! Before ascending into heaven,You, the Good Shepherd, entrusted the care of Your sheep to Peter to tend and feed them. Turn the Holy Spirit to our Holy Father the Pope. Enlighten his mind, enflame his heart, and strengthen his will, so that he may fulfill Your Holy Will toward us. Console him in his trials, assist him in his labors, and make him a saint. Amen. (from EWTN Family Prayer by Fr. Joseph Mary Wolfe).

Courage and EnCourage at Florida Men's Conference

The Diocese of St. Petersburg Courage and EnCourage chapter representatives were invited for the fourth time to set up a table in the vendor hall during the 13th Annual Tampa Bay Men's Conference on Saturday, February 25, 2023. The event featured Bishop David Toups, of the Diocese of Beaumont, Texas, and Fr. Dwight Longenecker. 

Jerry, Clare, and Suzann (not pictured) facilitate the Courage and EnCourage chapters in their diocese with the full support of Bishop Gregory Parkes, for which they are so grateful! They spoke with several men, introducing them to our apostolate and listening to those with personal stories to share. They were very well received, as indicated by the fact that the conference coordinator asked them to return again next year. 

On the Holy Father's Comments on Same-Sex Attractions

Father Bochanski was a recent guest on The Drew Mariani Show where they talked about Pope Francis's January interview with The Associated Press which drew a lot of media attention. The Holy Father said, "Being homosexual is not a crime. It’s not a crime. Yes, but it’s a sin. Fine, but first let’s distinguish between a sin and a crime." Father shared his thoughts about Pope Francis' words.

"I'm grateful for what he says. I agree with him on the point that The Church has taught consistently that experiencing same-sex attractions is not a sin in itself, that no one should be condemned, or marginalized, or treated poorly because they have that experience. We distinguish the experience of the attraction from the actions, which are sinful. … It's not the case in any society that everything that is sinful is criminal or that everything that is legal is therefore good. … I would agree with what the Holy Father said about his concern for a number of countries where simply being known to be same-sex attracted is a crime in itself, irrespective of any actions that a person may or may not take. It's not consistent with the Catholic Church's understanding of attractions and actions." 

Listen to Fr. Bochanski on The Drew Mariani Show

Read about Pope Francis' AP interview on CNA

"Radical Inclusion Requires Radical Love"

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, the bishop of the Archdiocese of Denver, wrote a beautiful reflection for The Catholic World Report that addresses the sometimes confusing messages we hear about the necessity of the Church becoming "welcoming" and "inclusive." 

"Yes, we are to invite and include, but not at the expense of leaving others and ourselves mired in sin that separates us from God. The laws of God are laws of a loving Father so his children may live in his joy. The Church needs the courage, and love, to be clear in inviting people to leave their sin. What Jesus offers is better than what the world offers the person in sin, and his grace and power is sufficient to free anyone from the slavery to sin."

Christ and the Rich Young Ruler

Heinrich Hoffman, 1889.

"Indeed, in the encounter with the rich young man (cf. Mk 10:17–22), Jesus demands radical discipleship from the young man, and he lets him refuse and walk away" (Archbishop Aquila).

Read Archbishop Aquila's "Radical Inclusion Requires Radical Love"

New Chapters


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Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina

Diocese of Tyler, Texas


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The Upper Room Blog

Friendship Must Be Cultivated

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Courage member Garrett J. writes for The Upper Room blog about the importance of perseverance in the cultivation of friendships:

My tastes, habits, and desires are almost all cultivated. Whatever I tend in the field of my life is what will grow strongest and remain hardy even in times of drought. I regularly cultivate two things that cannot coexist: unchastity and Catholicism. Unchastity has been cultivated for far longer than Catholicism has. If I want to remove it from my field, I must not only stop cultivating it but cultivate new things that can grow in its place. I have the seeds of these new crops, but I either don’t plant them — if I do plant them, I quickly rip them up as soon as they start to grow – or I ignore them once they are in the ground and begin to grow.

Read Garrett's "Cultivation" about fostering friendships

Musings on Same-Sex Attraction from Ireland

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Our Irish Courage member from "across the North Atlantic swells" continues with part two of the compelling story of his winding journey to a deeper union with God:

… I know now that I never felt truly loved, and love was something that I craved desperately and sought out in the wrong places, in a low-level search for God. He truly is what Francis Thompson called Him, “The Hound of Heaven”. He never gave up on me. He is truly Love. I am slowly and tediously learning what it is to love and be loved. …

Read Part 2 of "Musings on Same-Sex Attractions"

Share your story, too!

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 contribute your story


"The Truth Brings Joy!" — A Call for Clarity

The National Catholic Register interviewed Courage executive director, Father Philip Bochanski, and Courage member, Garrett J., on the importance of “clarity and speaking the truth in love when discussing the Church’s teaching on marriage in contrast with state-sanctioned same-sex unions." 

Father Bochanski explained that ambiguity on this subject is dangerous, and “when it’s coming from the clergy, it’s even more dangerous" and “hurts the people that I’m trying to serve because they feel overlooked or unappreciated or even rejected by the Church.” 

Garrett said that "public figures in the Church, when discussing this issue, should be giving those with same-sex attraction the counterpoint to today’s permissive culture by saying, 'This is what the Church teaches; and, look, there are all these people who are living it who have good lives.' … The truth brings joy, and then we need more people in the Church in positions of power to believe that. " 

Read entire story about "Call for Clarity"

"Embracing the Challenges of Friendship"

Father Bochanski was invited to make a contribution to Fidelitas: Journal of The Fellowship of Catholic Scholars (Canada), which he titled "Embracing the Challenges of Friendship: A Critique of 'Making Room for Siblings in the Spirit'." His essay is a response to an essay by Brett G. Fawcett. Father writes:

Like many faithful Catholics, Brett Fawcett, has read carefully the Responsum ad dubium that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published in 2021, explaining why the Church cannot provide rituals of blessing to solemnize same-sex unions between people who share a sexual relationship like that of married spouses. …

In his essay, "Making Room for Siblings in the Spirit," Mr. Fawcett … suggests that the fact that the CDF does not mention emotional relationships between people who experience same-sex attractions, and are together for that reason, but who are committed to avoiding sexual intimacy with each other, may mean that blessings for these couples are permissible. …

Although it is certainly well-intentioned, Mr. Fawcett’s proposal is ill-advised. Faithful people who experience same-sex attractions can and should find strength and consolation in strong, disinterested friendships, with God, with others who share their experience, and with those who do not. But the idea that consecrating an exclusive relationship between them is contradicted by the Church’s understanding of the human person, of human sexuality, and of the nature of human relationships. …

Read Fr. Bochanski's "Embracing the Challenges of Friendship" (start on p. 43)

Read the CDF's Responsum ad dubium about blessing same-sex relationships

Spiritual Friendship: Bond of Christian Charity

A few years ago, a Courage staff member created a detailed outline of seven principles of authentic Christian friendship. It is rich in content and worthy of individual consideration as well as focused conversation in Courage chapters. Plus, there is a great list of books at the end for further reading. Here are the key points:

  1. We are made for interpersonal union — to love and be loved.
  2. Virtue and character are necessary for authentic friendship.
  3. Authentic friends share intimacy and similarities in interests and outlook on life while maintaining individuality.
  4. Authentic Christian friendship requires the virtue of charity, rooted in truth and humility.
  5. Authentic Christian friendship demands a willingness to sacrifice.
  6. Human friendship prepares us for friendship with God.
  7. Jesus is our truest, most authentic friend.

Read "Spiritual Friendship: Bond of Christian Charity"

Visit our YouTube channel for lots of helpful content,

especially in the Living with Courage series

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"Children Who Stray: Once a Mother, Always a Mother"

Catholic author, Bible teacher, and speaker, Sarah Christmeyer offered a presentation on how to love and pray for wayward children for the online Catholic Moms Summit, and it is now available on FORMED. She provides "four practical ways to cope with your pain as the mother of a child who has gone astray," using the word "HOPE" as a framework:

  • H — Have faith in our Heavenly Father who loves your children more than you do. 
  • O — Open your heart to Jesus, who died that your children might find life. 
  • P — Persist in prayer, by the power of the Holy Spirit who comforts and gives grace to face life's challenges. 
  • E — Enlist the help of Mary and the Saints.

Watch "Children Who Stray: Once a Mother Always a Mother" on FORMED

EnCourage Chapter Featured in Diocesan News

The Gulf Coast Catholic, a news outlet for the Diocese of St. Petersburg, interviewed the lay facilitators of their local EnCourage chapter. They provided fine answers to several questions "about the work of the apostolate, and how they are helping families receive help and encouragement to understand the experience of their loved ones more deeply, to foster healthy relationships within their families, and to deepen their own relationship with Christ."

Read "Help for Families Facing Gender Dysphoria and Same Sex Attractions"

For Spanish Speaking Members and Friends

We Have a YouTube Channel in Spanish!

There are now more than a dozen videos on our Courage Internacional YouTube channel. Some of them are English talks with Spanish subtitles, some are spoken Spanish translations of English talks, and still others were delivered by Spanish-speaking presenters. Be sure to share the channel with Spanish-speaking Courage and EnCourage members and beyond!

Courage Internacional Spanish language YouTube channel

March Newsletter in Spanish

March Courage & EnCourage newsletter in Spanish

Subscribe to the Spanish-language newsletter

Courage Internacional website in Spanish


Couragerc.org/español | Contáctanos

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Pastoral Resources

Key US Bishops Document Guides Our Apostolate

A foundational Church document upon which we rely for direction for our apostolate is the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care. It was approved by the full body of bishops and published in 2006. This document is so important to us that we sought and received permission to have the entire text included in the appendix of the print version of our Handbook for Courage and EnCourage Chaplains. This document is the primary resource recommended on the USCCB's "Homosexuality" page.

The Church seeks to enable every person to live out the universal call to holiness. Persons with a homosexual inclination ought to receive every aid and encouragement to embrace this call personally and fully (p. 13, USCCB, Ministry).

Read the USCCB's Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination:

More Diocesan Policies on Gender Ideology

It seems that almost every month we hear of another diocese that has created a good policy addressing questions of sexual identity and gender ideology. Just since the beginning of 2023, new statements have been released by the Archdiocese of Portland and the Diocese of Des Moines. Typically these practical policies are prefaced by an explanation of cultural trends as well as beautiful catechesis that unpacks the underlying theological and anthropological principles that inform the policies.

Archdiocese of Portland "A Catholic Response to Gender Identity Theory"

Diocese of Des Moines "Gender Identity Guide and Policies"

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

A Powerful New Documentary: Dysconnected

"The Real Story Behind the Trangender Explosion"

Dysconnected offers a captivating exposé of the transgender phenomenon in the context of a Catholic understanding of the human person. Ignatius Press is the executive producer and distributor of this documentary which was produced, written,and directed by Don Johnson. From the film promotion:

Over the past few years, a transgender tsunami has swept the nation, completely overtaking the medical, educational, and counseling industries, and forever altering hundreds of thousands of young girls’ lives. What is going on? How did it come to this? … Filmmaker Don Johnson has been traveling the country talking about this issue with people from all walks of life: parents, teachers, doctors, therapists, pastors, professors, and transitioners of all kinds. The story he uncovered will shock, anger, and sadden you, but also give you hope that we can turn this around.

Several of the people featured in the film may be familiar to you, including our own board member, Dcn. Patrick Lappert, M.D. The most compelling contributor is a young woman whose story is woven throughout the film; she shares her own documentation of taking drastic measures to assume a male identity and appearance and then her return to an embrace of her God-given femaleness. 

Watch trailer and excerpts on Dysconnected playlist

View or purchase DVD on Dysconnected site or from Ignatius Press

View Dysconnected on FORMED (with parish or individual subscription)

Read story about film on Catholic World Report

Read interview with filmaker, Don Johnson, on Catholic World Report


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Courage Women's Retreat

March 16-19, 2023

Pittsburgh Area

Information and registration

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Courage and EnCourage South Retreat

March 24–26, 2023

Birmingham, Alabama

Information and registration

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Courage Men's Sports Camp XXIII

May 25-28, 2023

Southeastern Pennsylvania

Event page | More details and testimonies

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Courage Clergy Study Day

July 26, 2023

Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas

More details coming soon.

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Courage & EnCourage Annual Conference

July 27–30, 2023

Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas

Conference page More details coming soon.

EnCourage Retreat

September 29–October 1, 2023

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Save the date!

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.

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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.

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