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The Messy Necessity of Authentic Catholic Community

I graduated from college and got married not long after. When my wife and I moved to a different city, it necessitated joining a new parish. We struggled to make friends and form community. Few people welcomed us in. Nobody reached out to us. Other young couples ignored us (and each other). So, after a year of waiting for others to lead, we decided to take the initiative ourselves.

We gathered other young couples and started to build relationships. This was the point where we started to form new friendships and learn how to live in the wider parish community. We didn’t necessarily like all the other couples in the group. We struggled with our pastor and some other parishioners. At the same time, we grew as disciples, by being challenged to live out our faith. We started to learn about authentic Catholic community and just how messy it could be.

At this point, I am supposed to tell you all the tricks to making amazing community where we all hold hands and love each other. But, that isn’t what happened and not even what community is supposed to look like. In other words, we need to stop looking for utopia, which doesn’t exist, and embrace the messy necessity of doing the hard work that is required to form authentic Catholic community.


Humanity is broken, wounded, sinful, and messed up. It is also beautiful, redeemed, and loved by God. This means that every single community (this side of heaven) will be the same. Mixed up in both human failures and God’s grace. This comes with good and bad attached, with no way to do it differently.

So, what does Christian community look like? A big mess, with Jesus in the middle.

Why is it so hard for Catholic parishes, organizations, apostolates, etc to help form Christian community? We are sinners.

But, that isn’t the end of the story. We shouldn’t just settle for dysfunction.

In and of itself, the word “community” means several things:

  • A group who live near one another or who share common goals.
  • A fellowship with others who share common interests, goals, or beliefs.

The second is closer to what we are aiming at, in regards to Catholic community. Still, community can be found in clubs, gyms, neighborhoods, schools, politics, etc. We don’t need Jesus to have community, do we? Yes and no. Christian community is supposed to be something more than just gathering with like-minded folks. More than just friendships.

Read more at Catholic Missionary Disciples 

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