Those who know me best might start laughing hysterically at the idea of my writing about the need for Catholics to find other Catholic friends. Because my husband and I kind of don’t have any.
We grew up in a small town in Washington state, met in our high school church youth group, dated long-distance through college, and then moved to southern California, where we began our married life together. We were kind of poor, I was in grad school, and we both had ridiculous work schedules. And about ten months after our wedding, we had our first kid.
So, in all of that craziness, finding a strong community of like-minded Catholic friends was not high on our priority list. After all, we did have each other, which I admit felt like enough for us most of the time.
But eventually, it became apparent to us that, despite having a wonderful marriage and a lovely best friendship with one another, we did need community, a group of other people we could count on while our families are several states away.
And believe it or not, over the course of the four years since then, that community has not magically materialized out of thin air for us.
The lesson my husband and I have learned the hard way, as we struggle with the (unbelievably) increased craziness of now having a second child while my husband goes back to school, is that Catholics need good Catholic friends. And the sooner you make it a priority, the better.
What’s the Point of Finding Catholic Friends?
Most people recognize that you kind of just need friends in your life. But I’m talking about more than your typical, run-of-the-mill friendships.
My husband worked as a manager at a sporting goods chain during the first few years of our marriage. When you work retail, you make friends (because you all bond in your misery). But these friends he made didn’t give him community. They didn’t share his faith, shared very few of his morals, and were not people he could talk about particularly deep issues with.
I would venture to say that, if he had known these friends during his single life, they would have been virtually no help to him in navigating the waters of dating, vocational discernment, and planning for his future as a Catholic husband. And that’s not to mention offering him support in his day-to-day quest for virtue and fight for holiness.
Is there a place in our lives for non-Catholic friends? Sure. No need to live in a bubble or anything. But when it comes to finding the support we need to live a holy life, the people who will be able to help us most are the people who are striving to do the same.
How To Find These Catholic Friends
If it was simple to find good Catholic friends, I think (and hope) that my husband and I would have found some by now. But unfortunately, it can be difficult. So here are some ideas that we have either tried, wished we had time to try, or wished we were brave enough to try. Hopefully they will work for you:
Walk up and say hi
So, we’re not in grade school anymore. It might not be as simple as seeing some awesome-looking Catholics and walking up to them, saying, “Hi. Want to be my friend?”
And yet, why isn’t it? If you consider that we all do need friends, it probably means that those cool Catholics you saw need friends too. So, yes, it feels super awkward to walk up to someone after Mass and introduce yourself, but it might just pay off.
In a way, this actually happened to us once. My husband and I take our kids to daily Mass frequently, and we would often see a young mom with a toddler that was maybe a half year or so younger than our toddler.
One day, the woman just tracked us down after Mass and introduced herself and her kid to us. Slightly awkward? Yes. Did we appreciate it? Absolutely! It made us feel kind of special and gave us hope that we had found a Catholic friend (unfortunately, she soon after disappeared and we never saw her at Mass anymore. Just our luck…).
Utilize pre-established groups if you can
Some parishes have actual young adult or singles groups, specifically for the purpose of building Catholic community. If your parish has one, try your hardest to make it to a gathering and give it a go.
Maybe your parish (like ours) doesn’t have one. But that doesn’t mean you can’t check out some nearby parishes and try to find one.
Look for opportunities to volunteer
Making friends in and of itself is not necessarily a perfect motive for joining a ministry, but if you can find something you feel called/equipped to do, gaining some new friends might come along as a nice bonus.
After living in our current city for almost the entirety of our married life, my husband and I finally realized that we should try to make volunteering for youth ministry at our parish fit into our schedule. And if we did, we realized that we would probably finally be able to make some Catholic friends along the way. Unfortunately, this didn’t work for us either, as the ministry coordinator never got back to us about how to get started – but that doesn’t mean something like this won’t work for you!
If nothing else, try getting creative
Maybe you can’t find any nearby groups that will work for you. So start your own. Think outside the box.
Some young Catholics decided to start a thing called a Catholic Beer Club, expressly for the purpose of building Catholic community. Maybe check it out, see if there’s a chapter near you. Or come up with a similar idea on your own and see if you can get it to take off.
Now is the Best Time
We’re not islands. There’s a reason Jesus instituted the Church as a social construct and instructed us to worship Him together.
Maybe you think you’re too busy right now to make the effort to find those people that you can count on to help you through life’s difficult moments. Maybe you really are.
But guess what? It’s pretty likely that your life will only get busier, more hectic. By time you really need those people, it will be harder than ever to find them.