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The Blessing of Catholic Friends

July 6, AD2017

angels, angel, friend, compassion, christian

Some of my most treasured friendships are with people who have significant differences in worldview from me in a variety of ways. I have friends from all sorts of different backgrounds. And I appreciate them all. I have friends I can laugh with, friends I can count on for a relaxing evening out, friends whose kids play well with mine, friends with whom I have history, friends who care about the same social justice causes, friends who share my profession. I have friends of all sorts and they are all great.

But, during these initial years as I live my life Catholic, I’m beginning to realize the unique benefit to also having Catholic friends in my life.

Needing Catholic Friends

The transition period to becoming Catholic was lonely. Most of my husband’s side of the family shares the faith, but we don’t live close enough for that to be as much of a benefit as it could be. Many of his cousins are in our age range, and if we lived near them I’m sure we’d be good friends. But a 6.5 hour drive isn’t within the range you can invite someone over for last minute pizza.

I tried to convince myself it wasn’t necessary to have friendships where you had everything in common. I still believe that is true. But, what I think I was really doing was trying to convince myself I didn’t need that many Catholic friends because I didn’t have them. The couple I had at the time were (and still are) like gold to me. Since then, my husband and I have done a few things to help cultivate more Catholic friendships in our lives.

The Challenge and (One) Solution

Finding Catholic friends has been a bit tricky. In this phase of life with young kids, we are busy. We can’t just go out to dinner with other adults without planning ahead for a sitter. The people we are hoping to become friends with are in the same phase of life too. It’s tough. But we saw a value in pursing friends who shared our faith, that made it worth the effort to bust the wall of our comfort zone.

I joined a playgroup at a local Catholic Church. I showed up to a room full of people I didn’t know and introduced myself. Through the playgroup, I’ve gotten to know several other mom’s in my community from a variety of backgrounds, as well as some that share my Catholic faith.

We started a small group at our parish. We made announcements, set up a table, and hoped some people would respond. We arranged for childcare during our meetings and provide snacks and drinks. We tried to make it as friendly as possible for people in the same phase of life as us to show up. And, as it turned out, some people did! We are getting to know other (mostly couples) from the local Catholic community.

It took a concerted effort, and time and being willing to take risks. But the outcome has been amazing.

With Catholic Friends

Taking the time to make Catholic friends has been worth it because with Catholic friends…

  • I can talk about the Eucharist, and they not only know what I’m talking about but believe it too.
  • I can talk about confession, and they already understand what it is and what it’s for.
  • I don’t have to wonder what they think of our holy water font or backyard Mary statue.
  • If we’re hanging out for dinner, we all know the prayer before meals.
  • We can talk about the weekly readings (even if we don’t belong to the same parish- so cool!) or the liturgical season.
  • We can spur each other onward toward holiness in a unique way.

Conclusion

I love my Protestant friends, as well as my friends from other religious backgrounds. We build each other up in different and important ways. But I am also uniquely thankful for the friends in my life who share my Catholic faith. It is a beautiful thing to be able to know you are on the same page with other people about the most important part of your existence. There is a freeness there, an ease there, a unity there, that has made pursuing Catholic friends at this challenging phase of life, very much worth the effort.

Photography: See our Photographers page.

About the Author:

Lorelei is a passionate Catholic Convert, mom to three, and wife to one. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing, and an M.A. in Education. She loves writing, singing (mostly in church, sometimes at karaoke), reading, fair trade chocolate, and spending time with her family. She will be a guest on EWTN’s The Journey Home on December 18, 2017, and Lorelei currently blogs at This Catholic Family.

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  • Suellen Ann Brewster

    Thank you for responding to the Holy Spirit and, out of your own felt need, supplying fellowship for others! The more we all step out at the Holy Spirit’s bidding and do these things, the more the Body of Christ is encouraged and built up. Nice article and thank you for writing it!

    • Lorelei Savaryn

      Thank you so much for reading and for your thoughts!

  • Larry Bud

    Converts can’t know that in the not-too-distant past, parishes did exactly what you were looking for. There was always a fundraiser or a dinner or a picnic in a nearby parish, every weekend. Not to “talk about the weekly readings”, but just to socialize and to work together for the common good. Young people learned how to socialize in a Catholic setting, newcomers were integrated into the fold, and couples were nudged together. But that’s all gone now. Either because shrinking parishes lost the critical mass to put on these events, or because people simply lost interest in working together. The 1980’s seems to be about the time where this stuff collapsed.

    Your small group is an exclusive clique. You “make it as friendly as possible for people in the same phase of life as us to show up” and “We are getting to know other (mostly couples) from the local Catholic community.” Anyone who doesn’t fit the profile can continue to go it alone, I suppose.

    • Lorelei Savaryn

      Hi Larry, thanks for your thoughts. I could have clarified this more in the article, but our church does have a lot of options for spending time in fellowship with other Catholics. However, a lot of those options don’t work for families with young kids. Our goal in creating the small group was to fill a void, and provide a way to get to know fellow Catholics who need childcare, and a meeting time/place that is family friendly. This, again, was a ministry void unique to our parish. I wrote an article more about the purpose and intention of the small group in an article on my personal blog, which can be found here: https://thiscatholicfamily.wordpress.com/2017/04/24/what-happened-at-our-first-catholic-small-group/

    • Larry Bud

      Thank you for the clarification. I still say that your group is exclusive. And even more exclusive than I had imagined – it’s a bible study group and that isn’t appealing to everyone.

      If you found a few couples in the 20-40 range who are truly interested in what to me seems like Protestant-style “fellowship”, then I’m surprised because that’s not my experience as a life-long Catholic (and among my circle of friends and acquaintances, the only one who even attends church at all any more). I also imagine that singles probably would not feel welcome in a group of young parents.

      As I wrote above, the great thing about the parish activities in days of yore, was that they were purely social. No one could claim lack of interest on the grounds of being “too church-y” or too oriented towards a niche interest of any kind. You showed up and you worked, you ate and you socialized. Singles, couples, families, young folks, old folks. All were truly welcome.

    • Lorelei Savaryn

      Our parish has Bible Studies for men, some for women, some for teens/college age. I think the goal of those different options is to give a variety of choices. There are certain topics people might want to study that could pertain, say, to women specifically, or to teens or young adults, etc. Our study is open to anyone in that ‘young adult’ age range, which I think officially, for Catholic ministry is 18-35 (we upped it to 40). I couldn’t control who came to the study, but it has ended up being mostly couples with kids. I am thankful for it, and feel like it serves to fill a need in our parish. We want to delve into specific areas of studying our faith together, more than just meeting for purely social reasons, though we do socialize too. We are currently in the middle of a Bible Study on the Eucharist, via Formed.org.

      I also think there is most definitely a need and a place in our parishes for the kind of social gatherings you talk about- our parish has a great fish fry during lent, and a festival actually going on this weekend, along with many other all-inclusive gatherings throughout the year. But I also firmly believe there is a place for more focused, targeted and intentional groups as well within the parish setting, that help us to learn more about the faith we share.

    • Larry Bud

      As I wrote above (I think), segregating the parish into cliques will always end up leaving many feeling excluded. Whether due to not meeting the age limit, or not fitting in, or simply not being interested in the topic. I’ll guess that most of a typical parish has no interest in attending anything called “ministry”. I know I don’t.

      I started seeing “young adult ministry” in my area in the early 1990’s, for college age of say 18-21 (which I was already too old for). It was a follow on to “Life Teen” which was started here in the 1980’s. The upper limit has inched upward over the years, and many critics say 18-40 is absurd because 40-year-olds shouldn’t be hanging out with 18-year-olds (if in fact they do, which I doubt), they should _have_ 18-year-olds.

      If you still have a parish festival, then you are very lucky and I hope you have a good turnout. This is what I’ve been talking about.

  • Dom C

    The solution you mention is a good one. If we want to make friends, we need to get involved in something at our parish. The more we are involved, the more people we make connections with, resulting in opportunities for friendships to grow. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Lorelei Savaryn

      Thank you Dom- we have definitely found being proactive has helped so much in growing in friendships with others who share our faith!