The unexpected friendships I found online

When I moved to Indiana for my job, I was blessed overnight with a Catholic community. The evening I finished moving into my apartment, a fellow coworker (who had also just started working at the same company and lived in the same apartment complex) came over with chocolate strawberries. The next day, she drove me to a casual young adult gathering at what soon became my parish. And a few of those people whom I met on that first day are still some of my closest friends five years later.

I could list off all the communities who have blessed me since moving to Indiana: my Wednesday night group that has met for adoration, Mass and fellowship for the last five years, which is also where I met my husband; two couples that my husband met through a Catholic college group, who we meet with most Fridays; and my Monday night women’s group, where we explore the Bible, drink copious cups of tea and talk about all things nerdy. All of these communities have helped shape me into the woman I am today, and they have journeyed alongside me during different seasons of life, from singlehood and dating, to engagement and now marriage.

Want more Radiant? Sign up for our weekly newsletter!

This is not the case for most young adults fresh out of college and trying to find their way in the world. So many of my college friends went back to their hometowns or tried to start anew in places where there was limited opportunity for community. I wish every place offered a thriving Catholic culture, let alone Christian culture, but that is often not the case in our post-Christian society.

An unexpected friend group

However, there is one other group that I did not expect to be so important, especially during engagement and early marriage. And the most surprising aspect of this group is it’s made up of women I have never met in person.

After Dominic and I became engaged, I saw a post in a Catholic Facebook page for engaged women. It was from one gal inviting others to join a private group chat where they could get to know each other better and support one another on the road to marriage and after. I joined the group out of curiosity, but I never expected it to be one that has been so life-giving. I also never expected it to last this long, nearly two years after the group began.

The long days of engagement were lightened by the camaraderie of other women going through the same journey, waiting for the blessed day when we would become one with our beloveds in the sight of the Church. We shared engagement photos, offered feedback on wedding invitation designs, and swapped ideas for decorations or how to center our wedding prep on Christ. We also helped each other navigate the difficult moments: disagreements with our fiancés, how to deal with relatives and friends with their own plans for our weddings, and the challenges of chastity in this new season. Together we bemoaned the fact that our wedding days were not coming soon enough. But come they did, and together we celebrated each other’s marriage with joy.

Now, during the season of marriage, we’ve explored new highs and lows. Some couples were blessed with pregnancy within the first year, both planned and surprised. Others are still waiting and trying to get answers from qualified doctors who will advocate for their health. We’ve asked for feedback during different difficult moments in marriage where we wanted to respect our husbands while also needing sisterly support. The focus has always been to encourage one another during these times, striving to support the couple as a whole instead of taking one side. We have grieved when someone lost a child, and we have grieved when couples have been put in difficult positions because of job loss. We have prayed for each other’s intentions from thousands of miles away; some of these women even live in Canada and the U.K. No question is off the table in this group, and this has fostered growth for all of us.

For me, this group has been one of the biggest blessings of my marriage. While I’ve never met these women in person, and likely never will due to the busyness of life and the miles separating us, I know they have my back and will pray for me and support me during the highs and lows of life. And although it’s crucial to have some friends in your local community that you can turn to for support, I’ve been surprisingly blessed by this online community of women, whose faith and desire to strive for virtue in their vocation encourages me to do the same.

Finding online community

If you are struggling to find community in your area, don’t be afraid to look online. There are many Catholic groups and forums where you can find support and friendship. Here’s some places to look:

For general community:

  • Blessed Is She no longer runs the Facebook groups they created many years ago, but (as far as I know) the groups are still going strong. Find one for your region, state or even city!
  • Catholic Women in Business is also a great resource for entrepreneurial and working women — both in the workplace and from home.
  • Honestly, just search Facebook for “Catholic women” groups. We can’t vet all of them, but if the group seems focussed on charity and living by the Church’s teachings, you are in good hands.
  • Instagram also has some good groups: @findthatcatholicgal and @findthatcatholicwoman (for those 40 and older) are great accounts to follow that can help you find Catholic ladies in your state. While it may start online, there’s a chance for in-person friendships to blossom.

For engaged women:

  • Search on Facebook for the Catholic Brides-to-Be group. This is where I originally met all these lovely ladies, and the group was helpful in answering many wedding-related questions.

For married women:

  • Catholic Wife Life: Once married, this Facebook group is a safe haven for many Catholic wives striving to live out the teachings of the Church, even amid messy marriages.

Also, don’t be afraid to invite other women of a specific season in life to join a group chat. Someone needs to take the initiative, and that someone might be you!

@Copyright 2021. All rights reserved.