Why are Catholics bad at fellowship?

Recently I was asked to speak at a local Catholic women’s group. It had been awhile since I’d put on my speaking shoes, and I was genuinely excited. That is, until I was given my topic. Fellowship, they said. Fellowship? I couldn’t help but wince. Not suffering? Prayer? Family discord? Keeping the faith during crisis?? Nope, fellowship.

It was hard not to think about potlucks with slow cookers full of unrecognizable cuisine, or coffee and donut functions where one lucky greeter uncomfortably stands at the entrance of the parish hall while the attendees dine and dash. Or when a really progressive church asks the congregation to greet one another before Mass (gasp!) and people awkwardly start digging through their purses or suddenly find themselves absorbed in the missalette.

Without a doubt, a common theme among fallen-away Catholics who are now happily nestled in bustling Protestant communities is that they felt unwelcome at their parish because there was a lack of fellowship. So what is fellowship and why are we, as Catholics, so notoriously bad at it?

Fellowship, by its very definition, is merely a friendly association and the gathering of like-minded people. How is that so difficult? Yet the very concept brings disdain from some Catholics. In a group chat discussing this issue there was a common theme: We don’t need fellowship; we go to Mass for the Eucharist. One commenter even said, “The difference is that Protestants need people; we don’t need people, we have Jesus.”

Really? Catholics don’t need people? Yes, we do have Jesus in the Eucharist but it’s a fallacy to espouse a spirituality without community. We are the Church, and that in its very essence means we are a people. The concept of fellowship is essential to our journey as Christians; Jesus Christ himself taught us this. Continue reading

  • Maria Garabis Davis holds a Juris Doctor degree and a BA in theology. A former youth minister and now practicing attorney, she resides in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband and four children.

News category: Analysis and Comment.

Tags: , , , ,