With friendship being one of the key goals of our apostolate, these days of social distancing and isolation can be challenging for Courage and EnCourage members, especially those who depend on the support gained from meetings, retreats, and other Courage eventsHowever, many of our members have not been deterred by these unique circumstances, and – thanks to the use of technology – are staying connected, discovering some small, unexpected blessings along the way.  

“During this terribly isolating time of the Coronavirus pandemic, the thing that has really helped us all in New York City to stick together and remain a family is our Zoom meetings,” said Jarret G., who takes part in chapter in Manhattan. I have had the privilege and blessing to host a daily Chaplet, and I know it has made me a stronger Catholic (in my case, a stronger Catechumen). 

Additionally, the online format is encouraging some members to stay connected more regularly than they had before the pandemic. “A number of members have commented that they appreciate the Zoom meetings because it gives them the opportunity to attend more meetings than they otherwise would have been able to attend,” said Ken M., another member from one of our New York City chapters 

Members who don’t have local chapters are benefiting from online video meetings as well. “What’s been special is that we’ve been joined by members from other states whose groups are not meeting during the pandemic as well as others who just live too far away to join us regularly,” said Mary W., an EnCourage member from Ohio. We are thinking that this is something we could continue to do in the future, even when we begin to meet in person again.” 

Of course, the online format is not without its drawbacks, as it can’t fully replace the social benefits of meeting in person. “I miss the opportunity to meet other members for dinner before each meeting,” said Ken K. 

Some have also expressed concerns over security when using online platforms for meetingsHowever, Mary W. notes that there are steps that can be taken to protect the privacy of participating members, minimizing the chance of security issuesWith a paid Zoom account, for instance, it’s possible to require that members register before being approved to attend a given meeting, and the waiting room feature allows an extra level of security. 

In any event, the global crisis has not kept us from our mission of serving our members. Father James Lloyd, 99, has rarely missed a meeting since becoming a chaplain of one of the New York City chapters in 1994, as recently reported in the Catholic World Report. Not even the terrible Coronavirus has upended that,” the report says. “For after Father was instructed by his superiors to practice social distancing, if not isolation (because of his age), he dutifully obeyed—while making sure his Courage meetings continued online, via Zoom, without missing a week. So his amazing run continues, as he confronts the pandemic with typical fortitude, posting spiritual reflections on self-isolation and the things that matter most. 

The “new” online format is also offering hope for when the crisis has finally abated, and in-person meetings are once again able to resume. “I think it would be a great idea to somehow incorporate these virtual meetings in order to attract the younger generation, who are very conversant with the online world, said Jarret.  He noted that such a format could be beneficial to young people who experience same-sex attractionsbut who don’t “yet have the courage to attend an in-person meeting. Something to pray about and consider.” 


Note to our chaplains: Chapters who are willing to receive non-local members into their online Courage or EnCourage meetings should contact our office.