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What does the Church have to offer single Catholics?

From the bulletins that welcome “all families” to the dating advice geared toward teens, all organized religions seem to struggle sometimes with making single adults feel at home. But between the widowed, divorced and the never-married, singles make up nearly one-half of the adult population. Churches ignore this population at their own peril!

Single people bring an abundance of gifts and resources to the Church. Without the obligations of marriage or religious life, they can foster the self-knowledge and growth that are the foundation blocks for mature Christian life. They can also channel that freedom into community or Church service, and they may have greater opportunities to witness to the larger world.

The Catholic Church has always regarded the single life as a valid vocation, but there is sometimes little support for it. To take advantage of the gifts singles have to offer, parishes must be energetic in inviting singles into the Church, putting them in leadership positions and making sure their language reflects an openness to singleness (for example, “Adult Fellowship” instead of “Young Couples Fellowship”). Parishes must also provide opportunities for singles to connect with other people in the Church, and they must make sure the real needs of singles are addressed. Some parishes are better than others at providing support for the single life, so if your parish isn’t meeting your needs, ask your friends where they find sustenance. Jesus provides a model of a single adult living his life outside the mainstream of both marriage and religious life. His life of solitary faithfulness reminds us that the Church needs its single Catholics as much as they need the Church.
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