6 Tips for Getting to Know Catholics in Different States of Life
While talking to my pastor a few weeks ago, I mentioned that I hadn’t met a religious sister until after college. He was surprised to learn this at first, but then, he realized it made a lot of sense—religious sisters just aren’t as present in parishes as they used to be, at least in our area of the country.
I think the issue might be bigger than that, though. In my experience, people in one state, or even stage, of life tend to spend time with other people like them. This is especially a problem for laypeople. Families spend time with other families; young adults only see other young adults; and teens and children hang out with their friends from school. But if we are to fully experience the complementary richness of the Body of Christ, we need to meet the people who are fulfilling different roles. Here are a few tips to get to know Catholics who are living a different vocation from your own or who are going through a different stage of life.
1. Invite your pastor out for coffee.
Sometimes, laypeople don’t know where to begin when it comes to meeting people in different states of life because they think they don’t know any. However, if you belong to a parish, then you have the opportunity to meet your parish priest. Get together with a group of friends and invite your pastor for coffee after Mass to get to know what his ministry is like and how you might be able to help him in the parish.
2. Volunteer for seminarian scholarship fundraisers.
Many dioceses and religious orders work to raise money to support seminarians in formation, and you can volunteer to do some of the work that facilitates that fundraising. This can be a great way to get to know the seminarians studying for the priesthood in your diocese and the priests who are forming them.
3. Visit convents and monasteries for special events.
Often, convents and monasteries will open some of their facilities to the public for patronal feasts, retreats, or other special events. Try looking up which religious orders are present in your diocese, and either give them a call or ask to be added to their mailing list to find out about these events.
4. Mentor someone.
Mentoring relationships can be a great way to get to know people of different ages. If you are a senior, try mentoring a young adult. If you are a teen, try mentoring someone a bit younger than yourself. In a faith-filled mentoring relationship, you can get to know the reality of living the faith for someone very different from yourself. You can also share tips with one another to strengthen both of your faith lives.
5. Attend diocesan events.
Check your diocesan website for events such as faith rallies, conferences, ordinations, and prayer nights. People in all states and stages of life often attend events like these. In addition to keeping you in touch with your diocese, these kinds of events give you the chance to meet people from all over your region.
6. Send widespread invitations for intergenerational parish events.
Some parishes hold intergenerational events, such as faith formation nights or parish picnics. If your parish is holding such an event, try encouraging the organizers to send invitations not only to parishioners, but also to religious sisters, retired priests, lay organizations, and consecrated single people in your area.
When you get to know people living out different vocations, you begin to unravel the richness of the Church and see the many ways God is working in his people. Even if you introduce yourself to just one person in a different state of life, that’s a good place to start!