There is such a strong emphasis in the Church, rightfully so, about marriage and children, that many single people feel pressure to find their “one true love.” This pressure has led many to “settle” instead of prayerfully discerning their vocation and life choices.
Elizabeth Ministry focuses a good deal of attention on marriage and childbearing, so we want to be very clear that our ministry also includes single people. Belonging is not dependent upon marital status! We build on the universal call to holiness that our faith proclaims to everyone. We are all called to love.
Some people are single, but are genuinely searching for a spouse. Others remain single because of discerned circumstances and decisions. What is important for everyone is to determine how open we are to having God use our lives to share His love with others.
Elizabeth Ministry wants to help the broader church reach out to singles and provide prayer and preaching that fits their vocation. Opportunities to serve and be served according to the unique lifestyle of single members is needed.
Single people are often blessed with more flexibility of time and a desire to be connected to people. This can open up new and expand existing ministries within the faith community. An active parish life can provide companionship of good friends for singles that may be lonely.
Single people often can have a more active life of prayer. A parish can inspire and challenge singles to a greater relationship with God and a prayer life that will enrich the entire faith community. None of us are meant to walk the journey of faith in isolation. All of us, but it is particularly important for single people to live life according to God’s blessings and not simply in response to social pressure for marriage.
Elizabeth Ministers can help a parish be careful not to use exclusive language that appears to mean an event is designed for couples or families when it can be open to the entire community. There are unique struggles for those who are married and those who are single. Those struggles are even more specific and determined if single through being never married, separated, divorced, or widowed. It makes a difference if a single person is desiring to be married or has vowed celibacy for life. Single people’s participation in a faith community needs to be acknowledged and validated. Elizabeth Ministry proclaims a reflection of God’s love exists in single life, married life, and the lives of vowed religious.
Too often parishes form a singles group and think that will address the needs of those parishioners who are not married. Although those groups can be important, connecting single people with families can be even more vital. Years ago, when most families were bigger, and people lived near extended family, there were many single relatives. These single aunts and uncles were often vital parts of the lives of their nieces and nephews. This had benefits for all involved. Today, with smaller size families and mobility causing families to live across the world instead of across the street, single people are not as connected to others. Elizabeth Ministry encourages single adults to connect with families in their parish. Parents can always use a helping hand, children bloom with special attention, and singles can enjoy the feeling of belonging, especially at holidays!
One of our Elizabeth Ministry Chapters told us they match their single older women with every baby baptized. This special “auntie” provides the family with much needed assistance, and the senior citizen a vital role in a child’s life. A faith community can become very creative in finding ways to connect their congregational members to one another, and especially to the single people in their midst.
Singles may be the missing piece to your parish. Pray and discover ways to connect. We all need to feel we belong!
Note: A Parish Elizabeth Ministry Chapter may offer support for singles, but if you are seeking more than is offered locally, Elizabeth Ministry International offers consultations, mentors, resources, referrals, retreats, and speaker presentations. Contact us for more information!