Our informal gatherings with other like-minded families for food, fun, and fellowship have been a huge support to our parenting vocation . . . and we might just get a garage band out of the deal, to boot.
Does your family regularly fellowship with other Catholic families?
Last Saturday I had a call from a friend: “We’re getting together at 3:00 on Sunday. We’d love if you can join us. Bring a main dish that your family can eat and a side dish or dessert to pass. No need to let us know, just show up if you can make it.”
That was it. Maybe we would join them, maybe we wouldn’t, but the invitation stood. An open invitation for a group of like-minded families. Perhaps only one or two families would be able to make it, but no matter who came there would be food, fellowship, and friendship.
As it turned out, we did join our friends (and three other families) for the evening. We enjoyed eating and chatting and then walked to a nearby park, where the moms chatted and played on the playground with the younger kids and the dads played a rousing game of baseball with the older ones. We ended up closing down the park and heading home with tired and dirty kids who made their way straight to bed. Mom and dad were tired too, but we were also refreshed for the start of our week.
This isn’t an unusual invitation for us to receive. Our family’s group of friends tries to get together on a somewhat regular basis. Close to once a month we have whole family get-togethers like the one this past weekend. We also make park dates for our children, and the moms and dads sometimes get together without kids and spouses. A priest (or two) is usually included in the priest group; I can only assume he appreciates the fellowship with other men just as much the dads do. Recently a group of the kids decided they needed to start their own band. I’m not sure how violin, bagpipes, trumpet, and keyboards will come together, but it is fun to see them making their own plans. Occasionally our group will arrange family-friendly service projects, special liturgical events, or outreach events that include other families in our activities.
It can be tough to find the time around the busy schedules of multiple families, but having an established group makes living our vocation as moms and dads a lot easier! Our family fellowship gives us a chance to share the struggles and joys of parenting in a safe environment. When we lived far from family, groups such as the one we have now have celebrated our children’s sacramental milestones and special days. As converts, our family friends have been a safe place to ask questions about traditions, teachings, or prayers that we were unsure of.
Family friendship can come in all shapes and sizes. Even one like-minded family is a good place to start. As you notice new couples and families joining your parish, invite them to join you and watch as your group grows! Family fellowship can even be based within your family of biology if you are blessed enough to live close and to share a faith tradition.
In our case, our group came together over our shared desire to nurture our families’ Catholic faith and we stayed together for the same reason…with a whole lot of fun and friendship thrown in for good measure.