Courage helps homosexuals follow Catholic teaching

May 13, 2014

HOUSTON — For men and women with same-sex attraction who hesitate to seek spiritual guidance through the Roman Catholic Church, one resource in the Church to remember is the Courage ministry. Courage provides a path on which to walk and it is part of the Respect Life Office.

It is a path that leads to a life in communion with God. A way to gain spiritual support for living chaste lives in fellowship, truth and love.

At its core, Courage allows people with same-sex attractions to follow Christ according to Catholic spiritual and moral teachings.

“With faith in Christ and His Church, it is more than possible to live a chaste and single life in a healthy and happy manner,” said Dr. Marcella Colbert, director of the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese’s Respect Life Office. “This is based on chastity that is required of all single people.”

What is often mistakenly believed, Colbert said, is that the Church shuns those who are homosexual. 

“The dignity and identity of Christian persons is not determined by their sexual orientation, but their relationship to Jesus Christ through a developing faith, hope and love,” Colbert said.

It was in 1980 that then-Cardinal Archbishop of New York, Terence Cardinal Cooke, realized there was a need for pastoral outreach to a group of people often faced with challenges and lack of acceptance. Cardinal Cooke enlisted the help of Father Benedict Groeschel, who then sought the help of Father John Harvey, well known for his extensive ministry experience in this field.

The first Courage meeting was held in September 1980 at the Shrine of Mother Seton in South Ferry. Now Courage has more than 95 chapters worldwide. Each Courage chapter must have a priest to serve as its chaplain. Meetings and members are highly confidential.

Father Mike VanCleve of St. Jerome Catholic Church is that priest for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston’s chapter. “I am always impressed by the level of commitment and emotion of the people who are fighting this battle of staying chaste and following the Church’s position,” Father VanCleve said. “And it is a difficult thing that we as a Church are asking.”

Father VanCleve has headed Courage for more than seven years. Those who attend find the support group to be very helpful.
“The people who have been involved with this have been very, very good at trying to follow the goals of chastity, a good spiritual life, having chase friendships, a bond of confidentiality and good effort,” Father VanCleve said.

Time restraints limit Father VanCleve’s ability to do more community outreach in order to get the word out about Courage. 
“Knowing that a person can be chaste and be fully fulfilled, that is the message of Courage,” Colbert said. “And it is very profound.” 
To find out more about Courage, contact Colbert at 713-741-8728.