Tuesday, May 24, 2011

what do we want from the church?

I'm almost 30.  My husband and I have 3 very little kids.  I am fortunate to be a stay at home mom.  My husband and I are too old for youth group and FOCUS. He wants more than just a Men's Club that fries fish once during Lent and otherwise holds business meetings and plays poker.  I want more than the female version of the Men's Club or another Moms' playgroup.  (Although I am very, very blessed to have some excellent Catholic moms' groups to which I attend.)

We want something we can do together with other couples.  We want to be around other Catholics in their 20's and 30's who are striving for holiness while living our their vocations.  We want to be challenged, formed, inspired, and fraternally corrected.  We want to see examples in our friends and in mentor couples while perhaps mentoring engaged or discerning young adults.  We want our children to have friends whose parents have similar moral standards.  We want to have the kinds of friends that hang out at each other's homes, cooking out and potlucking together, camping together, helping each other.

We want a Catholic community that prays, worships, loves, serves, and laughs.

I am sure I am not asking too much. In fact, we are on the fringes of several such communities, but distance seperates us.  So this summer we're going to try to drum up some friends in our own parish, while strengthening the friendships we already have there.  We have an idea for a simple Bible study - not too overwhelming but it will definitely lay a foundation.

But I'm wondering, what do you want from the church?  Or if you have a great community what does it offer that makes it so great?  If you could create a ministry what would you want it to do?  What topics would be discussed?  What ideas do you have?  And am I alone in craving those types of relationships?  Do those even exist?  I wonder if we all want the same thing but everyone's too afraid to put themselves out there - is that even partially true?

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bonnie, I completely understand what you're saying!! I teach at a Catholic school, and my best friend (another teacher at the school) is leaving this year--and I can't imagine what it's going to be like! A spiritual vacuum...every day! "Normal" people don't THINK like Orthodox Catholics--even Catholic teachers at a Catholic school! That community is special, and needs to be encouraged...my husband and I would LOVE just a casual "friends" group, or a young marrieds group. We have a "young professionals" group at our parish, but it's mostly business happenings; we also have a "young marrieds" group, but it's run by people who have NO IDEA what Catholicism is all about! With all my complaining, it sounds like I need to start my own group! I crave community as much as you do...our protestant comrades would call that "fellowship!" Pardon my ramblings...

Elizabeth said...

I definitely want what you've described. I'll continue reading to see how your efforts go, because I'm not sure how to make this happen where I am!

*Mia Jude* said...

You are definitely not alone. I crave these relationships also. Nick and I have several friends in the area from work and so forth, but for most of them, its not as easy for me to just start talking about what the Pope said in a speech last week or what Father talked about in the homily on Sunday. I have been blessed to work with some amazing women, and I've learned through conversations with them that they have learned so much about the Catholic faith because of me. I feel so humbled and glad that I could do this for them. One friend is Catholic, but does not practice fully (although her husband goes to church regularly, she does not). Another friend was baptized Catholic, but has no clue about the Catholic faith and does not practice, nor does she bring her kids to church. My other coworker and her husband are certified pastors and have their own Christian church near my town, so as you can tell I have quite the range of women who question me about my faith. I've never considered myself very good with words, so I explain things to them as best I can, but a lot of times I end up saying.."you need to come over and talk to my husband because he can explain this perfectly!" Nick and I have talked about starting up a sort of "What you didn't learn or don't remember from your CCD class" kind of group, because ony of my coworkers constantly expresses interest in learning more about Catholic teaching. We had a great discussion on mortal vs venial sin, and about different saints and Eucharistic miracles. She was so astounded and grateful to me for introducing her to this! She has even told me she realizes there is a bigger reason why I came into her life. This makes me feel so good! So Nick and I tossed around the idea of getting together with fellow Catholic couples, or non-catholics who are just interested in learning more. We just don't know how to get something like this started. Sorry about the long comment..long story short..I feel the same way you do! :)

Anonymous said...

We've lived in the same town for 4 years now and have attended the same Catholic church for those years, too. It's a young parish, but we still feel like outsiders! My husband and I both went to a Catholic college and just want to have friendships with other Catholic couples. Why is this so hard?!

Lisa said...

When we lived in Springfield, our parish started a series called "Why Catholic?" You could ask to be in a single gender group or a couples group, we chose couples. We really enjoyed it. I wasn't a fan of the material, but we never lacked for stimulating conversation. We probably had about 6 couples in our group, and it would be one Friday night a month, we'd get a babysitter.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Bonnie! That is exactly what we are look for, too! We had lots of good, regular fellowship with other Catholics as singles, but have felt like that has been lacking since we got married and had kids. It seems like lots of couples events don't include children, and it would be so nice to have events where we could learn, share, and laugh with other families. (Although, couples nights out are nice once in awhile!) I know we don't attend the same parish, but if you could use any help in starting up such a group, we'd be happy to lend a hand.

Kristen

Sarahbiz said...

Justin and I are soooo fortunate that we finally found a church. We have a great pastor who preaches great sermons, but we also have a GREAT Sunday School class. It is for 'young married couples or those thinking about marriage.' (Though we have all decided that we will take the class with us to the nursing home...so the 'young' doesn't really apply!) We don't just talk about marriage issues, we talk about scripture, how to deal with death of parents, how to deal with children!, how to serve, etc. We are so fortunate to have found this and at time, we have over 50 couples in class! From that, we also pick names out of a hat and split into small groups that rotate through out the year. It allows us to get to know eachother on a different level, to find fellowship in those we may not have ever thought. I pray that you and Travis are able to find or start something like this in your church. I know it is helping to shape our lives!

Keri Marcheschi said...

Hey there! I just wanted to share some random thoughts on how to get going on a sorta young adult/adult Ed./young couples group. Within the past year our Church(where I work) has started a wonderful group similar to the one you're looking for... Since all of us were dying for exactly what you mentioned! It started simple, with an ad in the bulletin saying young adult potluck! Someone would have to be willing to host, but you can just put an email address and have people bring food. You can advertise it as friend-raising and community building... Or something fun like that. We had 25 people come to the first one, some people with kids, some singles, some engaged,some married. It was an awesome event, and from there helped us to get other things going. Plus, it is generally easy and fun!
-just a random idea. It has worked for us, and I'm hoping something like that can work for you guys too! Know of my prayers!

The Mama said...

My husband and I are part of a group just like that! It is an international movement within the Church that has been around for a very long time, but we had never heard of it until just a few years ago, and there are very few groups in our area. It is called Teams of Our Lady (TOOL) and has been wonderful for us. There are 5 couples, and we meet once a month at rotating houses where we share a meal, our highs and lows for the month, and discuss the reading that we all did for the month (our homework). There is a workbook for the first year or so, but now we are reading Catholic books that we have voted on as a team. Check it out and see if there are any groups in your area. It would be best if you had 4 or 5 couples to start a new group. We have become great friends with our group and get together for potlucks, play dates, and the occasional mom's night out (or dad's night out). Best wishes on finding what you are looking for!

nicole said...

We are so blessed to have a fabulous community. We have done some work ourselves to build relationships and our parish/community has done things to promote fellowship too. I was in a FAMILIA study for women when I had my second and third kids. We kept meeting after we did the four year study, at least socially, which always included spiritual fellowship too. My husband and I both attended and then served on ACTS retreats. That led to a faith sharing group for him and eventually to a couples group. The men meet once a week to read the daily readings and discuss where they are in their lives. It has been phenomenal for him. As couples we meet once a month, right now using Devotions for a Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. We're also in another couples group doing a study called Splendor of Love, from Regnum Christi, based on Theology of the Body. We started that group on our own, not relying on parish support.

I think you do have to do the work yourself to get what you want, especially at your age and circumstance. We are also young (31 and 33) with six kids. The young adult group is not really for us, but obviously we can't do the Supper Club or 55+ group.

We used to be in the Apostolate for Family Consecration but that didn't work for us. It is a great ministry though, and very family oriented, obviously.

I hope you find what you are looking for--it is essential to living this life that is outside the norm these days. I would be happy to answer any questions you have, just shoot me an email.

Anonymous said...

If you live in Springfield, I'd recommend Springfield Young Adult Ministry (YAM). It's a group for young adults in their 20's and 30's. Unfortunately, I'm not aware of any similar programs in other parts of central illinois.