Courage is a journey to grace

Father Patrick Toner - Contributing Columnist

Sex equals happiness. That is the popular opinion. When a gay man comes out and professes his sexual preference, everyone says “I’m happy for you. Now you’ll be happy and fulfilled.” When a man and a woman marry, people wish that they will be happy ever after. Now they can engage in sex without a moral judgment hanging over their heads. The formula is if you can find someone to have sex with, you will be happy.

Last weekend I attended the 2015 National Courage Conference. More than 350 people gather for prayer, sharing, and encouragement. They all believe chastity is the key to happiness. The message was repeated many times by witness speakers who declared that chastity, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and the Catholic church was the recipe for a fulfilling and happy life.

Courage is an apostolate, a ministry, for persons experiencing same sex attraction who wish to live in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic church. Courage was started in 1980 in New York and has grown to be an International Work of the Church.

Courage members attest that the Catholic church does indeed love them and guide them to a fulfilling life. The two men and one woman who are featured in the movie “The Desire of the Everlasting Hills,” which is on YouTube, shared their journey from a gay lifestyle to grace. A story that was echoed many times by the witness speakers at the conference.

Courage provides an educational component, teaching the true meaning of who we are. As was stated by one writer “I am not gay, I am David.” A human person is more than their sexual preference. Why would one want to be labeled by who they have sex with? Do people go around proclaiming “I am an adulterer,” “I am a child molester” or “I prefer incest?” Courage is about the dignity of the human person and the sanctity of our sexuality.

Goals of courage describe what Courage is about:

1. To live chaste lives in accordance with the Roman Catholic church’s teachings on homosexuality (which are often misunderstood or misrepresented)

2. To dedicate our entire lives to Christ through service to others, spiritual reading, meditation, individual spiritual direction, frequent attendance at Mass, and frequent reception of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist

3. To foster a spirit of fellowship in which we may share with one another our thoughts and experiences and so ensure that none of us will have to face the problems of homosexuality alone

4. To be mindful of the truth that chaste friendships are not only possible but necessary in a chaste Christian life and to encourage one another in forming and sustaining them

5. To live lives that may serve as good examples to others.

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Father Pat Toner is chaplain to the Columbus Courage Chapter. He is also pastor at Saint Joseph Catholic Church, 140 West Ave., Plain City. He can be reached at or 614-873-8850.

Father Patrick Toner

Contributing Columnist