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.
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.