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4 Keys to connect to a new community when you move

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Cecilia Pigg - published on 04/18/23

Making the effort to find good friends is probably the most valuable gift you can pursue. Ask the Holy Spirit for help!

I didn’t realize how vital having a supportive community/friend group is until I didn’t have one. 

With my first move post-college, I suddenly lived far away from a bunch of people who knew me well. I didn’t think my new, more solitary life was a big deal until I got married and my husband and I found ourselves connected to a lovely group of young couples in a Bible study. Through that study, we got to know several families very well, and then got to know other people better through them. When we moved to a different state a few years later, leaving that community was the hardest part of the move. 

Sharing life with these couples regularly helped my extroverted husband and my introverted self in countless ways—and at the end of the day, it helped our marriage tremendously. We were both learning and growing in friendship with each other BECAUSE of the friendships we had with these other men and women. Not only were the couples in our Bible study in a similar state of life as we were, but they held similar values and beliefs — they were trying to follow Jesus like us in a world that doesn’t prioritize Him. And because we were studying the Bible together, we were talking about things that mattered deeply, which helped us bond all the more.

At the same time, we were also making friends in my husband’s graduate school program. While we weren’t always talking about the deepest questions in life with these friends, or on the same exact page when it came to following Jesus, their friendship was also a huge stabilizing force in our life that helped us live better. 

These experiences guided me to know what my biggest priority was when we had to move away. I knew that we needed to find good friends as soon as possible. Making and finding friends is not easy or instant. But, with God’s grace, some of the steps I took helped us, and we are now blessed with a similar community again. Here’s what I did to find new friends, starting directly after we moved. 

I got started on this priority right away

1I searched the bulletins of all the Catholic parishes in the area of our new home

I found several groups that interested me, including a third order discalced Carmelite community, a mom’s group that organized playdates for women with young children, and a couple of different groups for men. The Carmelite community helped me discover a vocation I didn’t know I had, and the mom’s group put me in touch with so many women who continue to bless my life to this day. Being part of a larger group may seem overwhelming to some, but it is a great way to meet people who you can then get to know more intentionally one-on-one later. 

2We showed up

We got involved in our parish. My husband joined the choir, and I met people through signing up for a regular Holy Hour. We tried to go to parish events like Knights of Columbus breakfasts and fish dinners to spend more time with fellow parishioners. 

3We didn’t hide from our neighbors

In fact, we talked to our neighbors. Spending time outside, and going to a neighborhood ice cream social and movie night have helped us get to know more people on our street. This might happen more naturally for you if you spend time in common spaces in your apartment building complex or neighborhood. Or, you might just knock on a door and say, “I’m new in town, just wanted to introduce myself, and ask if you have any favorite places in town you could tell me about.”  

4I pushed past the awkward

We had to persist in inviting people to connect! It all takes time and perseverance. My husband didn’t jive with the groups he first tried out from our parish, and was pretty sure he wouldn’t ever be able to make new friends. A few years later, he can’t imagine leaving this place because of the community he has found. Forming friendships or even just getting to know acquaintances almost always takes persistence, and the willingness to keep showing up and pushing past any awkwardness or discomfort.

Invite more people to do things with you then you think you should. Try going on walks together, having people over for meals, meeting at parks, meeting for coffee. Don’t take someone’s rejection of an invitation too personally. Some people are busier in life than others, or don’t feel quite as  interested in making new friends because of the particular circumstances of their current reality. A few months or even weeks down the road they may be at a different place. 

Making the effort to find good friends is probably the most valuable gift you can pursue. Ask the Holy Spirit for help, and keep reaching out!

Tags:
CatholicismFamilyFriendship
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