Courage parish outreach


In July 2009, the members of the newly formed Courage met and discussed what they would like the group to achieve over the year to July 2010.

They decided first to reach out to other Catholic people who experience same-sex attraction (SSA). They wanted to show them that the Church loves them and has two vibrant support groups in place, with top priestly guidance. These groups seek to give them a safe place and time to share their lives deeply and privately with sympathetic like-minded people, where spiritual and moral growth in holiness is the main aim, and peace of mind and heart follow on.

To reach out, they decided, would mean reaching Catholic parishes in a special way. They resolved to take a more pro-active approach than in the past and, starting with the so-called ‘Pink Triangle’, suburbs close to the CBD, they enlisted the help of EnCourage members.

Each took responsibility for a deanery. Their tasks were:

  • to contact personally the parish priests of each parish and tell them about Courage and EnCourage,
  • to offer them a preview of our eight-page booklet Homosexuality and Real Hope and brochure, Know Someone Struggling With Homosexuality?
  • then, if the priests like the material, to send them a bundle for every parish for which they are responsible.

Archbishop Denis Hart gave his support to the initiative.

With a prayer and some courage, each member started ringing parishes in their designated deanery. And what happened? To their profound delight they received a hugely positive response across the board. Priests have been variously pleased, enthusiastic and overjoyed to be getting useful material on a vexed subject out to the parishes so that people who wish it can be helped. The Archbishop wrote a letter to go with the material, plus a notice to go in the parish newsletters once a month if possible.

Here are some quotes from priests:

Archbishop Denis Hart: “The little booklet Homosexuality and Real Hope is the best publication in brief that I have seen on the subject of homosexuality.”

Rev. Denis Ward, OFM Cap: “One of the things that struck me when I was chaplain to the Courage and EnCourage groups, was how much these people were suffering. How the people of both groups handled their suffering with great faith in Jesus and in the face of incredible obstacles, helped me in my own ministry as a Capuchin.”

Fr Laurie Leonard SJ: “Since being invited by Archbishop Hart to be chaplain to the SSA people and their families, they and I together search to find God’s will and our Church’s guidance for them. With the SSA people I have experienced a very real prayerful search to understand themselves and to know that through a relationship with Christ they can experience a belonging and peace in their lives."

“With the parents and their desire to support each other, as they desperately long to remain close to their children, I see another level of anguish and struggle which needs God’s graced touch. It is a privilege to be invited into their lives.”

Fr Gregory Pritchard: “I am glad that this special outreach is flourishing here in Melbourne and into chapters in many parts of Australia. Courage and EnCourage are vital apostolates in modern Australia. Their spirituality provides a way for those living with homosexuality to know they are loved by God, Who calls all His children to holiness and virtue.”

Fr Brendan Dillon: “Glen Waverley parish is very willing to disseminate all the Courage and EnCourage material as I am very conscious of the fact that these groups were, for many years, under the guidance of that wonderful Capuchin priest, Fr Denis Ward and are now in the capable hands of Fr Laurie Leonard. They can be relied on for help and privacy.”

Fr Paul Newton: “I have always found EnCourage meetings to be of tremendous support to all involved. They provide inspiration, much needed guidance, acceptance and affirmation, and I am very pleased to recommend them to anyone who might be in need.”

Fr John Walshe: “There is a real need for the Church to make a faithful and compassionate response to people who live with same-sex attraction, and also to support and minister to families who are affected by the choices their family members have made in this area of life. The Courage movement is an excellent apostolate that addresses the needs of homosexual Christian men and women. It is a movement which is supportive and faithful to the teaching of Christ and his Church regarding sexual activity outside of marriage, whilst at the same time employing the insights of experience and spiritual theology to support the homosexual person in their human need for friendship and understanding. In a warm and encouraging atmosphere, Catholic men and women who are same-sex attracted can be assisted and supported by the local chapter of Courage.”

Marie Mason, B Ed, is coordinator of Courage and EnCourage Melbourne.
ph: Marie and Alan 9847 0713

Chaplain: Fr Laurie Leonard SJ ph: 9854 8189