Last week Katrina Fernandez, my fellow Patheoso, issued this cry from the heart: Overlooked and Dismissed During the Synod, How Single Parents Continue to be Regarded in the Church…. As a single mom, she feels isolated and unnoticed at Church. Greater participation in parish activities isn’t the answer; she doesn’t have enough time for everything she needs to be doing now.
This led to a discussion amongst us all as to how best to welcome and encourage single moms, and members of other similar subgroups in our parishes. One thing we agreed on: that adding new support groups, e.g., a group for single mothers, isn’t the answer. Many, like Katrina, don’t have time for another group; and in any event it seems more fruitful to bring parishoners together in all their particularity. Single moms can commiserate together; but if the single moms knew more people in the parish, if they had more opportunities for meeting folks of all ages and ways of life, they’d have a better chance of making friends with folks who could support them, and vice versa.
In short, what we have is not a program deficit; what we have is a family and friendship deficit. Few of us live in close proximity to our extended families, let alone as part of a vibrant extended family that can support us; and where family is lacking, only friendship can take up the slack. It seems that our parishes need to encourage friendship on a level above casual acquaintance, so that our congregations can become the equivalent of extended families for one another.
I don’t know how we do that, mind you.