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About Us

Courage International grew out of the USA Courage Movement which Cardinal Cooke started in New York in 1980, when he appointed Fr John Harvey to be chaplain of the first Courage group in answer to the needs he saw in the community of same-sex attracted persons.

Courage Melbourne began towards the end of 1998, through the facilitation of Lyn Ryan of Human Life International (HLI), when three men came together to share and talk about what they would like to see happen in the way of ministry in a Catholic context in Melbourne, toward people struggling with same-sex attractions. At about the same time, contact was made with Fr Daniel Peitrazak of the Franciscan Order in Dingley, who had an interest in seeing Courage start up in Melbourne. In early 1999 an HLI conference was held in Melbourne, at which Fr John Harvey, founder of Courage, spoke.

After this, Courage meetings started to take place, initially on a fortnightly basis, then weekly. These early meetings started with a short prayer followed by a reading of the five goals of Courage. The twelve steps of Courage were read and reflected upon and members were asked to share on a particular step that spoke to them at the time. There was often a Mass and/or a decade of the Rosary. The meetings lasted about 1 1/2 hours.

For the next several years, Courage struggled as numbers fluctuated between two or three and up to 10 or 11. Adverse publicity in the media has not helped, with accusations offering a 'cure' for homosexuality. We don't. We do encourage one another to put God first and live a chaste life. What happens after that is God's business. Any member who wants to try to change their orientation by seeking reparative spiritual or psychological therapy is free to do so and the members will try to support them in any way they can.

Later on Fr Daniel took up a position with his order in Rome and Fr Denis Ward of the Capuchin Franciscan Friars was appointed as chaplain to Courage Melbourne.

In 2003, Fr John Harvey visited Melbourne again, giving strength to the little Courage group and initiating the founding of EnCourage Melbourne, a sister group for twenty or so parents and friends of same-sex attracted persons, which is now flourishing with a regular monthly meeting.

Courage Melbourne, now a constant group of four to five men, met weekly but did not seem to grow any bigger. Fr Denis was made Provincial of his order in Australia in 2008 and moved to the Sydney headquarters. In April 2009 Archbishop Hart appointed Fr Laurie Leonard SJ as chaplain to both groups. Since then, contact was lost with the original group for a time due to confidentiality concerns and the fact that same-sex attracted persons were starting to come to the EnCourage group. Now, with Fr Laurie, the two men and two women have formed an enthusiastic new Melbourne Courage group which meets regularly and has formed, with EnCourage, a parish outreach strategy to personally reach every parish in the Archdiocese so that Catholics can know of the support to be found in the Church via the Courage and EnCourage apostolates.