It was the summer of 2019, and I was at my first Courage Conference. I’d never expected to be able to attend a conference, with how far away it is (I live in Scotland) and the cost to attend. But through the kindness of the Courage Office and my own Diocese, there I was and in for a weekend that would bless me immensely.

The main thing that struck me that weekend was how welcoming everyone was. I’m a fairly shy person when I don’t know anyone, but with the men and women of Courage and EnCourage – and with the many priests and chaplains there also – it was as if just by being there we were immediately family.

There were, of course, talks and a planned schedule, but overall, it felt more like attending a family reunion with my own brothers and sisters than like a conference per se.

For me, a big part of what struck me was the real experience of just how many within the Church walk the same path to sanctity on which I am treading currently, and – as was visually evident at the Masses when the sanctuary literally filled with priests – how many of our Shepherds not only love us but are there to guide and walk with us; how many love us – specifically, us Catholics who experience same-sex attractions.

As a Courage woman, attending the Courage women’s meeting was my first time at an all-women’s Courage meeting. The freedom and openness with which many of my sisters shared help me to find the courage to share openly myself. It was beautiful and was only topped by the meeting of EnCourage family with daughters who experience SSA, and Courage women.

Now that meeting… I wept. I was moved. I was embraced. I embraced these parents who love their daughters so much. I found a spiritual connection with these people that cannot be put into words. It was an ineffably healing and moving experience.

The conference is different for everyone, and it is likely that different things will stand out to you if you choose to go.

For Bishop John, who came with me, it was the humble servant love of the Courage Team who welcomed us with such heartfelt hospitality for our arrival dinner at the restaurant. Thereafter, it was sitting down at any meal whether breakfast, lunch or dinner, making new friends with parents who shared stories of a daughter who had left them and the Faith and how they eventually found a way to love her and her partner with Calvary love. Bishop left more convinced than ever that Courage is from Jesus and is His plan to redeem and heal.

No matter what stands out to you the most, I promise you that if you do attend the Courage and EnCourage conference, you will find your family. You will find hope, you will find love, and you will find that you are home.

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Elena Feick originally hails from Sarnia, Ontario in Canada. She lives in Scotland, where she has been a member of the Diocese of Paisley’s Courage chapter since its inception. Elena was received into the Church in 2007 and attributes her conversion primarily to the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament continually inviting and welcoming her into a closer relationship with Him. You can follow Elena on Twitter: @ElenaFeick




The opinions and experiences expressed in each blog entry in “The Upper Room” belong solely to the original authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of Courage International, Inc. Some entries have been edited for length and clarity.