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If you’re reading this, chances are you’re not in a romantic relationship right now—and if so, you’re in good company. About 31% of American adults are single, and that includes many Catholics.
“There are so many single Catholics, and sometimes people just don’t realize it,” said Anastasia Northrop, Founder and Director of the National Catholic Singles Conference, in an interview with Aleteia. “The median age for marriage has gone up so much over the years. In some places, single adults make up more than 50% of leaders of households. They make up a large portion of the church.”
Although there are so many single Catholics, it’s not uncommon for them to feel isolated or ignored by the broader Church community.
“The general feedback I get from single Catholics is that they feel invisible,” Northrop said. “Events, programming, and homilies mostly seem to address people that are married and have a family.”
The pandemic has only worsened the isolation that many singles face.
“So many people live alone and the pandemic has been very hard for them,” Northrop said, “Not only extroverts, but introverts too. Most singles are really grateful for community and to know that they’re not alone.”
There are ways for singles to find supportive community, even during the pandemic. There are also some excellent avenues for spiritual support and guidance. These 5 resources are particularly useful for single Catholics:
1The National Catholic Singles Conference
This beloved annual event took place through a virtual encounter in 2020, but will return in person in 2021 in Denver, Colorado. The event is based on the “three pillars of formation, faith, and fellowship,” Northrop said.
The conference is intended to offer some “vocation formation,” Northrop said, since all Catholics are called to love others and witness to Christ in today’s world. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body is a recurrent theme. “John Paul II talks about the vocation to love, and we all have that call, no matter our state in life,” she said.
Looking back on the past 20 conferences, Northrop is glad to see how the event has changed so many lives. “A friend came to 10 of the conferences before he got married, and he said Theology of the Body made him the man he is now, ready to marry his wife,” she said. “He was very grateful for all that formation from the conferences.”
The conference speakers bring messages of substance and depth, offering meaningful formation. Recordings of previous conference talks are available online at CatholiCasts.com.
Community is also a very important aspect of the event. “At first I didn’t realize how important that was,” Northrop admitted, “but as I’ve been single longer, I came to see how important it is to be with others in same state of life, who are facing the same challenges.”
Study groups are a great way to build community with more depth than casual social events. Single Catholics might reach out to local friends, perhaps through their parishes, to start a group.
A great option, no matter where you live, is taking part in the GS 24 online study groups. These events have been very popular during the pandemic, and the next session will start in early February.
Everything Emily Stimpson Chapman writes is a gem, and The Catholic Girl’s Survival Guide for the Single Years is no exception. Her book offers wise and witty encouragement for single Catholics.
Northrop also recommended Single and Catholic: Finding Meaning in Your State of Life by Judy Keane. The Catholic’s Guide to Being Single is another helpful book.
4The Catholic Match Institute
The Catholic Match Institute has an abundance of articles on every conceivable topic for single Catholics. There’s something for everyone!
5Prayer and spiritual formation
Even in the moments that feel loneliest, none of us is ever truly alone. We walk alongside God, the angels, and the saints. Frequent conversation with God in prayer helps us remember this, and feel accompanied as we go through life.
That’s why spiritual formation is such an important resource. Whether or not marriage is in the cards, every person is in a relationship with God that lasts forever. Besides spiritual reading and participating in study groups, single Catholics can grow closer to God through prayer, spiritual direction, and the sacraments.
Of course, growing closer to God can only help a future marriage. “Forming singles for their vocations is important,” Northrop said. She explained,
Marriage prep shouldn’t start when you’re engaged. The culture is not teaching people what it means to have a gift of self or vocation to love. A lot of breakdown of marriage and families relates to people not having proper formation or not understanding what marriage is about. Also, if people don’t have an interior life and relationship with God, it makes marriage more difficult.
Hopefully these five great resources can support and encourage single Catholics, helping them become the men and women God created them to be.
6 Single mom saints