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Where do single Catholics fit in the church?

Q. Where do single people "rank" within the Catholic Church? Many times we are asked to pray for those who are married or who have followed a calling to the religious life — but how many times has anyone in any parish been asked to pray for those who are single?


Are we singles shut out, are we to be ignored until we follow one of the other life paths? What if the single person truly believes that his or her calling is to be single? Who is asked to pray for the single person who steps up whenever someone else's children need care, for the single person who is expected to care for ailing or aging family members because he or she "has no other obligations?" (Zionsville, Ind.)


A. I couldn't agree more with your eloquent plea. I feel strongly that some are called to the single state as a true vocation — a deliberate choice made to give them more time to serve both God and other people. Traditionally the church has identified three vocations: holy orders, marriage and consecrated life; but lately I find increasing references to the notion of the "single vocation."


The website of the Diocese of Green Bay, for example, says this: "Life as a single person can be a vocation from God ... Single women and men usually have more freedom than those in other vocations ... The vocation to the single life is a gift to the church."


And the Archdiocese of Melbourne in Australia explains that "they may be a carpenter, office worker, scientist, dentist, train driver, who has a fulfilling personal relationship with Jesus which they feel able to live out more fully if they are not tied to other relationships."


Like you, I believe that those who have responded to this noble calling deserve regular mention in the public prayers of the church.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018