Groups which first emerged in several locations concentrated in the Northeast and Canada, provided a much needed resource for Catholic people seeking help for problems and concerns with which the lives of their homosexual loved ones confront them.
Early development of the ministry saw a variety of regional names for the group until at the 1992 Annual Courage Conference in Toronto, members representing several local chapters adopted the name of one chapter as common for all groups, 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.
Through this approach, the group seeks also to avoid the raising of 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.