In the Northeast and Canada, Catholic men and women began gathering in order to seek help and guidance in understanding and supporting their loved ones who experienced same-sex attractions. Several distinct groups emerged with different names, but all with the same purpose.
At the 1992 Annual Courage Conference in Toronto, members representing these various local chapters adopted the name EnCourage.
What distinguishes the work of EnCourage is its concern to offer faithful witness to Catholic teaching on sexual morality while meeting the needs of its members with charity and compassion. To this end, the group professes an orthodox position on the immorality of homosexual acts even as it respects the human dignity of persons who have homosexual feelings.
Moreover, EnCourage differs from other Christian ministries of similar purpose in that it does not embrace the necessity of a homosexual loved one’s changing sexual orientation. While recognizing families’ interest in or commitment to the enabling of their loved one’s “re-orientation,” EnCourage works primarily to cultivate a supportive accepting environment in which the more immediate goals of fostering personal chastity and sexual abstinence can be valued within the context of a broadly Christian appreciation of human experience.
In addition to providing support and education, EnCourage also seeks to avoid raising false hopes for families whose desire to “make things right” in their loved one’s life might cause them to overlook their loved one’s present capabilities, preparedness, or intentions in this regard.