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New Executive Director Named to Courage International, Inc.
Associate Director Fr. Philip Bochanski to succeed Fr. Paul Check

Contact: Lisa Wheeler, 866-777-2313 ext 700, lwheeler@carmelcommunications.com

NORWALK, Conn., Sept. 27, 2016 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Board of Directors of Courage International, Inc., announced today that Fr. Philip G. Bochanski has been appointed the third Executive Director of the 36-year-old apostolate by the unanimous decision of its Board of Bishops. Fr. Bochanski, a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, succeeds Fr. Paul N. Check, who has led the work of Courage since 2008. Fr. Bochanski has been the associate director of Courage International since January 2015. Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap, Archbishop of Philadelphia, has released Fr. Bochanski from service in his home archdiocese beginning January 1, 2017.

Archbishop Chaput affirmed the extraordinary importance of Courage's ministry and his commitment of support. "There's no better way of showing my support than releasing one of our finest priests, Fr. Philip Bochanski — a perfect candidate to take Fr. Check's place," said the Archbishop. "Anyone who might be anxious about a change of administration shouldn't be because Fr. Bochanski has proven his worth already."

The announcement of Fr. Bochanski's appointment to Executive Director comes three weeks after Bishop Frank Caggiano of the Diocese of Bridgeport, CT, named Fr. Check as the rector of St. John Fisher Seminary Residence in Stamford effective January 2017. Today's announcement ensures that the work of the apostolate will continue without interruption.

"Fr. Bochanski brings to the Executive Director position great pastoral experience and a familiarity with the work of Courage on both the local level and also the international level," said Fr. Paul Scalia, chairman of the Board of Directors. "He has already distinguished himself as a great promoter of the apostolate and we are confident he will continue and build upon the good work of his predecessors, Fr. John Harvey and Fr. Paul Check."

Fr. Bochanski was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1999. Prior to joining the central office of Courage last year, he served as a pastoral associate in several Philadelphia parishes and as chaplain for the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters, the Philadelphia guild of the Catholic Medical Association, and the Philadelphia chapter of the Courage Apostolate. During his tenure as associate director, Fr. Bochanski has been instrumental in implementing "Clergy Study Days," which provide continuing formation for the priests of a diocese about the teachings of the Catholic Church on homosexuality, how to present that teaching in a clear and compassionate way, and how to provide authentic pastoral care to men and women who experience same-sex attractions. Additionally, Fr. Bochanski travels widely to speak to deacons, seminarians, lay missionaries, and others involved in pastoral ministry. His duties have also included support and oversight of existing Courage and EnCourage chapters and their chaplains, as well as the formation of new chapters around the United States and overseas.

"It has been a privilege for me to work alongside Father Check for several years, first as a local chaplain and for the past year and a half in the Courage Office," Bochanski said. "I have often told brother priests that my work with Courage and EnCourage is the part of my ministry in which I feel most like a spiritual father. I look forward to welcoming more courageous men and women in the name of the Church, to hear the stories of how God has been acting in their lives and relationships, and to walk with them along the way to holiness that the Church proposes for our happiness and fulfillment."

Courage International began in 1980 with a small group of Catholic men who met regularly with Fr. John F. Harvey, OSFS, in New York City. Cardinal Terence Cooke, the archbishop of New York, had asked Fr. Harvey to provide pastoral support for these men, who were living with same-sex attractions and who desired to live chaste lives following the teachings of the Catholic Church. The original Courage group established five goals for the apostolate — chastity, prayer, fellowship, support and service — which still guide the work of Courage today.

Fr. Harvey led the Courage apostolate from 1980 until 2008, when he stepped down as executive director a few months after his ninetieth birthday. By then, the apostolate had spread to dozens of chapters throughout the United States and around the world, including Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Australia. It had also grown to include EnCourage, an outreach to parents and spouses whose loved ones are in homosexual relationships.

Fr. Paul Check, who was asked by his bishop to lead the Courage chapter in the Bridgeport Diocese in 2003, succeeded Fr. Harvey as executive director in January 2008, and he continued Fr. Harvey's work of pastoral care, and of presenting the Catholic Church's teachings on sexuality, same-sex attractions and chastity. Since 2008, the Courage and EnCourage apostolates have continued to expand. In addition to Courage and EnCourage meetings in 15 countries on 5 continents, the apostolate spreads the good news of chastity through books, videos and online resources. The annual Courage and EnCourage conference, a tradition begun by Fr. Harvey that now draws upwards of 400 members and friends of the apostolate, has been supplemented by annual regional retreats for Courage men and women, as well as periodic Truth and Love conferences designed for clergy, religious, and laity involved in pastoral ministry.

Courage's next Truth and Love conference, geared towards those in pastoral care, is scheduled to take place in Phoenix, Arizona from January 9–11, 2017. You can learn more about it here.

"In God's providence, Courage has been given a new leader who will further share, with the Church and the world, the charism of the apostolate that Fr. Harvey and the original founding members of Courage gave us in 1980," remarked Fr. Check today. "Fr. Bochanski already has much experience in the work of this vital apostolate and I have every confidence that he will give great service in the years ahead. I look forward to continuing to work with him as a member of the board of directors."

To read Fr. Paul Check's letter to Courage and Encourage members about his new assignment and departure from Courage as Executive Director, click here.

To schedule an interview with Fr. Philip Bochanski or Fr. Paul Check, please contact Lisa Wheeler of Carmel Communications (866-777-2313, Ext. 700 or lwheeler@carmelcommunications.com).