People who belong to vibrant communities, and certainly in that scope, the Catholic communities I’ve met…are highly evangelical about what they have. They are kind of like reformed smokers. They want you to know the kind of joy they have and want you to be a part of it. And actually can be kind of pushy and obnoxious about it. They are not Catholic ghettos.
So its not actually difficult to join a community, its difficult if the community is not in your general proximity. For families who live within a hour or so’s travelling distance, I highly recommend doing that travelling, regardless of how inconvenient it may be.
We did it for 6 or 7 years, and yes, it is inconvenient. But well worth the effort. The children of these families will be the ones they go off to college with, meet friends of, grow into a mature faith with. Your children, as young adults, will want to expand their social world. Its our job as parents to bolster that world and do what we can to make it one to uphold what you have formed them with. It will help them maintain their faith. And it will help keep the grown ups in line too.
One of the things that convinced Sparky that travelling to have community was vital to our lives was reading a book called, Only Heroic Catholic Families Will Survive by Father Robert J. Fox. The title apparently is a quote by the one, the only, Father John Hardon. If you are looking for some advice on how to be a Christian and how to run your family, he’s your man.
The essays in this book are by such notable figures as Alice Von Hildebrand, Father Hardon, Mother Angelica, John and Sheila Kippley and several other priests and parents. Essentially the book explains how our sacrifices, as parents, is what will help our families succeed. Meaning keep their faith. Not financial security or the winning of popularity contests.
Sacrifice. Such an unpleasant word in this world. Such an assurance of grace. In Heroic Catholic Families, was the encouragement to travel to be part of a community, even long distances. Not that we could do it, that it was a nice optional thing to do when we weren’t busy doing other interesting things, not as a hobby. But that we must do it. That being part of a community of faithful and fervent Catholics was essential. Note I did not say perfect Catholics. Only people who are perfect should attempt to join a perfect community.
And unfortunately that won’t happen until we die.
So how do you find a community to join? Another tricksy bit of information, but their are pockets of them all over the countryside. They don’t advertise in general, being not only non-profit, but usually one income, pile of kids to keep them busy type people. But the www is helping quite a bit to make the world smaller and bring communities together.
A couple of places I would recommend to start looking for a community is Catholic conferences, homeschooling or otherwise. Conferences generally grow up in places where a few people have developed some form of community. Plus, of course, you are going to meet other families in a fairly large geographical area. Maybe one or two will be from your area. Or know someone from your area. Networking. Working the crowd. Its Catholic shmoozing. There are also blog sites which would indicate by state or province where some hiding out Catholics might be. It would be worth contacting them. See buttons for these blog sites in the sidebar herein.
I know this is a fairly radical suggestion, but if your family doesn’t live within travelling distance (and I would suggest that the travelling distance you can tolerate is a fairly personal decision, dependent entirely upon your patience in a car and how pregnant you might be at any given time) anyway, radical suggestion, “move.” Yes, pack up, put the kids in the car, sell the house and move to where you can be upheld in your Faith by a community. Do not worry about the perfect community. It doesn’t exist.
It doesn’t take many families to make a community, considering the fecundity of the authentic Catholic family. Two or three for starters would make it work. It can grow over time. Our core group here, at its height was 10 or 12 families who all lived within ten minutes of each other. And another 10 or 12 who travelled an hour’s distance or sometimes more. But it now sits more like its original status, 3 or 4 core families, as well as several whose children have grown but are part of our parish family. And up to 15 or so families who come as often as daily, weekly, monthly to events and goings on in our little parish.
More later on resources and growing a community.
Must lounge about with Sparky and the offspring and have coffee.