Parishes aren’t taking loneliness seriously

SIR – Mary Kenny’s article, “We’ll never wipe out loneliness” (January 13), was both interesting and informative, and one striking point raised was that studies have shown that churchgoers are less isolated and live longer.

While this may be true, churchgoers need to remember to live their faith outside the church building. Good liturgy and valuing others within church buildings is essential. But unless we live our faith in the wider world we are doing a clear disservice to God and to ourselves. While Mary Kenny illustrates that going to church can help to combat loneliness, one dares to ask the question: what are individuals and church groups doing to tackle loneliness within their own parish?

Loneliness can affect people of all ages and sections of society. Superficial relationships do little to help combat this issue. Genuine relationships that value and give meaning to people are the sort that help to tackle loneliness. Can church groups that constantly refer to themselves as communities really identify as communities of faith if members are not actively addressing the issue of loneliness with people who worship at their church?

Moreover, simply believing that because someone who is lonely comes to Mass once a week then that will combat their loneliness is quite ridiculous. Our society is far too narcissistic and we as Catholics need to do more to combat loneliness and reach out to those physically close to us, especially those within our own parishes or faith groups. Matthew 25:35 reminds us of the importance of welcoming the stranger.

However, it is not necessarily the stranger that may need to be welcomed, but someone who might be much closer to us physically but emotionally suffering the pain of loneliness.

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection