Our single years can often feel very lonely. And it’s not always easy to find a core group of people to spend our free time with.
Once you add in the criteria of sharing the Catholic faith, it can begin to feel especially hard to find community. While online dating can certainly help in finding and meeting other Catholics in your area, not everyone is on apps or dating sites. So it makes sense to look in other places as well.
Even though it’s not always easy, building Catholic community can be a very helpful step to finding contentment and happiness in the years before we find that special someone to build a family with.
If you find yourself struggling to know just where to begin when it comes to building Catholic community in your life, here are some ideas to get you started.
You’re not the only one looking
To start, keep in mind that you’re not alone in your desire to have a group of good people to spend time with and depend upon.
Remember that there are certainly plenty of others out there in a situation very similar to yours, and we all need friends in our life who support us, laugh with us, and encourage us in the pursuit of holiness.
So as you start the process of searching for Catholic community, look at the endeavor as a mission to find like-minded people.
It will probably feel much less intimidating and daunting a task if you keep in mind that you’ll be helping others by connecting with them, even as you help yourself.
Beginning from this mindset can help you have the confidence to venture out and pounce on any opportunity to connect with others that might cross you path.
When you encounter another Catholic who seems like they might benefit from some fellowship, don’t be afraid to take the lead in establishing social ties and creating fellowship-building opportunities.
Look to your church
Practically speaking, one of the best resources for Catholic community building can be right in your own backyard.
Many Catholic parishes already have organizations specifically for the purpose of creating community. Some are even aimed primarily at singles.
If your church doesn’t have any groups for singles, though, that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck.
Some parishes have youth groups or groups for young people, and although they may not specifically be called out as a singles group, chances are strong there will be a number of singles there.
Many parish groups with other aims can still help you get to know others and make friends that have values and beliefs like yours.
Even if the other participants are married couples, the opportunities for friendship can still be plentiful.
Sometimes, great friendships can develop with people in different states of life from us. You might even end up with a great Catholic role model couple to help you learn what a good Catholic romantic relationship should look like.
Of course it is possible that your church has nothing like this of any kind. Some parishes are unfortunately rather lacking in community-building focus.
If this happens to be the case with your parish, you might consider checking out if any neighboring parishes have social organizations you could join. Social groups are typically quite welcoming of newcomers, even those from another parish.
Or perhaps you could consider forming a group like this in your own parish if there aren’t any. Consider whether the Holy Spirit might be calling you to really take charge of building Catholic community.
Don’t forget your family
A lot of times, we overlook the resource our own families can be, when it comes to searching for community.
It can be hard to think of the people we grew up with (and possibly fought with) as friends. But as we do get older, creating a strong relationship with our adult siblings, our parents, or perhaps our cousins, can be a great source of Catholic community.
The other way our family members can help us in this area is that some of them may already have Catholic community groups of their own that you can tap into.
This is another area where keeping in mind that others are in the same situation as we are can be helpful. Most fellowship-minded groups of Catholic people will be of a “more the merrier” mindset and will be happy for you to join them.
Take your search online
In our modern landscape of social media, there’s never been a better time to connect with people whom we would probably never end up meeting if left to physical interactions alone.
We often think of the online landscape as places where people can go to connect with potential matches or dates. But there’s no reason to view them so narrowly.
Both traditional social media and dating sites can help you connect with other Catholics and form community. Even if you’re looking for more than just romance, online social platforms can help you find other fellowship-minded Catholics in your area.
Try reaching out to people with whom you have something in common – whether it’s a mutual friend or a shared hobby, you never know what connection could lead to the formation of a beautiful friendship.
Don’t forget to rely on prayer
As in any undertaking, the quest to find solid Catholic community should begin with prayer.
It might feel as if the desire for friends is too trivial a request to bring to God, but that is not the case at all. No real desire of your heart is too small to ask of God.
And the longing for authentic friendships can actually be rather significant.
Having a solid base of Catholic friends can help lead you into a deeper faith life. Knowing that you have Catholic friends to talk to about the Faith can often be the extra help our Faith-life needs to help us move beyond merely going to Mass on Sunday.
So don’t forget to pray. Don’t hesitate to bring your longing for Catholic friendships to God and to ask Him to provide for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to good Catholic friends.
Because finding a good Catholic community can be a big help to us during our single years – both emotionally, and spiritually.