EnCourage is a Catholic support group for those who have friends, family members or spouses who experience same sex attraction, or who choose to live an active homosexual lifestyle. EnCourage is a ministry of Courage International, an apostolate that has been present in our diocese for the past 25 years. Courage—the only apostolate of its kind to have received ecclesiastical approval—helps persons who experience same-sex attraction live chaste lives marked by prayer, community, and support in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church. EnCourage provides care for families and friends of loved ones who identify as having same-sex attraction. Through this ministry, the Church seeks to help parents, siblings, and other relatives and friends provide a faithful witness to Catholic teaching while honoring the personal relationship between them and their family member who experiences this attraction.
EnCourage is a ministry of compassion guided both by the mercy of Jesus Christ and the universal call to holiness, a call that always requires ongoing conversion from everyone. The primary goal of this ministry is not to “fix” the loved one’s situation. The goal is to help families grow in their relationship with Christ in an atmosphere of fellowship and support.
EnCourage is offered through the diocesan Office of Family, Youth, and Young Adult Ministry. The meetings are confidential and provide a place where people can talk safely and with total confidence about their feelings with others who are going through a similar experience, and who share the Catholic faith perspective. Parishioners can find out where meetings will be held by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 616-288-0918.
The Courage apostolate is the Church’s invitation to people who experience same-sex attractions, who desire to live in accord with the Gospel call to chastity.
“Before all else comes the individual person,” Pope Francis wrote, “and people should not be defined only by their sexual tendencies. We are all destined to receive his infinite love.” The Courage apostolate welcomes men and women who experience same-sex attractions as brothers and sisters in Christ, and helps them to respond to their vocation as sons and daughters of God, created in his image and likeness.
“The human person can hardly be adequately described by a reductionist reference to his or her sexual orientation,” the future Pope Benedict XVI wrote in 1986. The Courage apostolate welcomes men and women who experience same-sex attractions, helping them to find their true identity as sons and daughters made in the image and likeness of God. United by friendship with Christ and one another, Courage members strive for chastity and holiness, meeting regularly with a priest chaplain for prayer and mutual support.