Persons with homosexual desires have always been with us; however, until recent times, there has been little, if any, formal outreach from the Church in the way of support groups or information for such persons. Most were left to work out their path on their own. As a result, they found themselves listening to and accepting the secular society's perspective and opting to act on their same-sex desires.
His Eminence, the late Terence Cardinal Cooke of New York, was aware of, and troubled by this situation. He knew that the individual dealing with same-sex attractions truly needed to experience the freedom of interior chastity and in that freedom find the steps necessary to living a fully Christian life in communion with God and others. He was concerned that many would not find this path and would be constantly trying to get their needs met in ways that ultimately do not satisfy the desires of the heart.
In response to this concern, he decided to form a spiritual support system which would assist men and women with same-sex attractions in living chaste lives in fellowship, truth and love. Knowing of Fr. John Harvey's extensive ministry experience in this field, he invited him to come to his Archdiocese. With the help of the Rev. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R., and others, Fr. Harvey began the Courage Apostolate with its first meeting in September, 1980 at the Shrine of Mother Seton in South Ferry.
With the endorsement of the Holy See, Courage now has more than 100 Chapters and contact people world-wide, over 1500 persons participating in its ListServs, and hundreds of persons per week receiving assistance from the main office and website. It has become a mainstream Catholic Apostolate helping thousands of men and women find peace through fellowship, prayer, and the Sacraments.
The Courage Central Office operates through the partial financial support of the Archdiocese of New York and Diocese of Bridgeport, but largely through the contributions and volunteer work of Courage members and other individuals and organizations committed to advancing its efforts. Individual chapters throughout the world are self-supporting and exist with the permission of their diocesan Bishop.
In helping individuals gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the Church's teachings, especially in the area of chastity, Courage extends the Church's invitation to a life of peace and grace. In chaste living, one finds the peace and grace to grow in Christian maturity.
Fr. John F. Harvey, O.S.F.S.
Terence Cardinal Cooke
These two dedicated men provided the inspiration and foundation for the Courage Apostolate!
The Courage Apostolate
In 2008, Fr. Harvey, now deceased, handed the leadership of the Courage apostolate over to Father Paul Check. Father Check is a former US Marine Corps captain who was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1997. He became a Courage chaplain at the request of his bishop, William Lori, in 2003, and is now assigned full-time to the Courage apostolate.
In a December 2010 interview by The Catholic World Report, Fr. Check summed up the Courage apostolate in this way:
Read the entire interview:
Fr. Paul Check