One of the best aspects of the entire college experience is the community you become a part of while you are there. This community is even better when it is filled with people who love the Catholic Church. Whether at a private college with a chapel on every corner, or a public college with a great faith community, the people you spend four years surrounded by can have a profound effect on your life.
When you walk across the stage with diploma in hand, it can be hard to wave that final goodbye. You leave behind the professors, books, and long study sessions. But you’re also transitioning away from years of community that was built on faith and trust.
Nights that were once filled with prayer groups in your dorm and easy opportunities for Catholic dating fade into the distance as you drive away.
It’s no wonder then that many people struggle to find a community to join once they move on from their academic career. You go from having people practically handed to you on a platter to having to reach out to establish each new relationship.
We know that the importance and value of having a good Catholic community to surround you. So, we’ve put together some tried and true ways for you to build your own community.
Young Adult Prayer Supper (YAPS)
When I left my small Catholic college and moved several states away, I sorely missed being surrounded by other young Catholics. Catholic dating and friendships seemed so much harder to come by. Working in youth ministry, I met a few other young adults friends who were craving community as well.
Without a thriving young adult group in our parish, we knew it was up to us to create our own community. So, after some talking and planning, YAPS (Young Adult Prayer Supper) was born.
Two nights a month we would meet at someone’s house using a rotating schedule. The host would prepare dinner and the prayer session. A typical YAPS evening would look like this:
- Welcome and conversation
- Prayer time (praise and worship, stories of the saints, the Rosary and/or reading Scripture)
The great thing about YAPS is that you can mold it to your lifestyle. Reach out to young adults at your parish and create a schedule and plan that works for all of you.
Join a local Catholic dating group
Believe it or not, Catholic dating groups exist. More and more people are acknowledging that young Catholics need assistance connecting with each other.
If you’re a single Catholic, there are a wealth of Catholic online dating sites. Many of them offer an up close look at singles in your area.
By joining an online dating group through a site like Catholic Singles, you can easily locate other singles around you.
You’ll meet not only a prospective spouse, but a lot of like minded people. Online dating sites can connect you with young Christians who share your beliefs about life. Finding like minded people can make rejecting the hook-up culture easier. When you know you’re not the only one out there looking for good Catholic community, it doesn’t seem as impossible.
Invite friends over for game nights
Not all get-togethers have to revolve around Catholic dating and prayer circles. Fun meetups like game nights are a great way to get a group of young adults under the same roof.
Pick a night that works for you, and invite young Catholic people over to your house for a fun game night one evening. Whether you’re in the thick of Catholic dating or not, don’t leave out married couples. When creating a solid Catholic community, married people are just as important as singles!
It doesn’t take much to turn a boring evening into a rocking house packed with people, food and fun. Combine a few bags of chips, some drinks, board games, cards, and local Catholic people. If it’s a hit, make it a recurring event!
Join or create a young adult group at your Church
One of the easiest places to reach out to other Catholics is right under your church’s roof. If your parish has a vibrant young adult community full of other young Catholic men and women, consider joining it. The great thing about having community through your church is that all the leg work is done and events are already coordinated.
If your parish doesn’t have a young adult group, consider starting one. Yes, this may require a little bit of an effort on your part. But it will benefit you greatly. Talk to your pastor about advertising a meet-up in the bulletin and a space at church where you can meet.
There are many free resources and ideas available on starting up young adult groups. This is a great way to build community, open the door to holy Catholic dating, and connect people that otherwise may never have known one another.
Start a book club
As cliche as this may sound, starting a book club is a great idea for those looking to build community. Sometimes people are too nervous or intimidated to show up to a function that doesn’t have a specific purpose. A book club is nice because it provides the topic of conversation and guides every person through it.
Often book clubs will begin small, and then grow when one friend invites another friend and so on. Let’s say you suggest a book about Saint Pope John Paul II which leads someone to invite a friend of theirs you has a great devotion to the saint. Pretty soon you’ll have a living room full of young Catholics enjoying each other’s time and company.
It doesn’t take a big number of people to get started. Just invite a couple of friends, agree on a book, and get started. This is a simple and effective way to begin building Catholic community.
Adjusting to life after college can be hard, but don’t let it get you down. Make sure that you are surrounded by a community of people that will join and encourage you on your faith journey. Often, if you look close enough, people that want the same type of life that we do are right in front of us.
Catholic dating and Catholic friendships are so incredibly important. Make sure you are optimizing your chance at both by building a community around you that you can trust and love.