I have decided they should call it the National Catholic Single, Divorced, Separated, Widowed and Annulled Conference.
Whatever we call it, I’m getting ready to go. Clearing my desk, getting my thoughts together and my stuff together. Everybody knows that I’m headed out of town in just a few days.
And it’s led to some interesting conversations.
I was talking to a recently divorced friend—about the conference, and about the whole concept of “Catholic singles” ministry. I asked him if he even thinks all of the “singles ministry” stuff applies to him, and he said that no, it doesn’t. He said he doesn’t think of himself as “single,” he isn’t looking for a relationship with anybody else, and hence this kind of ministry isn’t something he needs or has any interest in.
Meanwhile, so many others are wishing me a bon voyage that sounds a little like this: “Have a great trip! I hope you meet someone great and fall in love!”
Here’s the thing: it’s the National Catholic Singles Conference, not The Bachelorette.
Don’t get me wrong—it would be lovely to “meet someone great and fall in love.” It has happened to others at other conferences, and I imagine it will happen a time or two or more in San Diego. I’m certainly not closed to the possibility.
But that’s not the primary reason I go. If it were—if my solitary “goal” at these conferences was to find a spouse—then I would have to say that all of the other conferences I have attended over the past 10 years have been a failure.
And I can’t say that.
I loved every Catholic Singles Conference I have attended. I have reveled in this huge, instant community of single Catholics—in a world where I frequently feel like I’m the only Catholic going through life without a spouse. I have met great people—many of whom are my close friends to this very day. I have explored my faith and my relationship with Christ through the lens of my currently single state. And I have had a whole lot of fun.
Friends, community, camaraderie—those are things we all need, whether we’re never married, annulled, divorced or widowed.
So if you’re divorced, or widowed, or in any other “not-living-with-a-spouse” state, and you’re thinking that “singles ministry” is just about a meat-market scene where people are just sifting through looking for short or long term partners, think again.
We can live without marriage. But it’s a lot harder to live without community. Singles’ sites, singles’ ministries and conferences like the National Catholic Singles Conference provide us with opportunities to build that community.