In addition to the Courage groups, our Apostolate also includes outreach to friends and family members, especially parents, of people with same sex attraction. Sometimes this person may be a member of Courage; in many other cases, the homosexual family member has drifted away from the Church, and parents, siblings and friends struggle with how to stay faithful to the Church’s teaching and still be supportive of their loved ones.
Through talking with people with same-sex attraction, we have come to see that, while everyone’s story is unique, there are some common experiences that many people with same-sex attraction share, many of them connected with childhood development and family life. Encourage provides a supportive environment in which to hear and evaluate this common story, which can often be difficult for parents to accept. Encourage can help loved ones to move past questions like “What’s wrong with him?” or “What did I do wrong?” and focus on the genuine love and patience that makes reconciliation and real friendship possible with God and others.
Encourage draws family members together in much the same setting as a Courage meeting. The group is formed around four important goals:
First, to promote a spirit of compassion and acceptance, both of one another in the group, and of the loved ones about whom they are so concerned.
Second, to form a commitment to a life of prayer, reception of the Sacraments, spiritual reading and meditation, and spiritual direction.
Third, to encourage their loved ones in the formation of chaste friendships, which can be the first step toward a deeper understanding of the virtue of chastity and the call to holiness.
Fourth, to witness by good example to others in their same situation, as well as to their loved ones with same sex attraction.