Singles Find Family in the Church

Program Proposes New Type of Vocation Formation

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By Genevieve Pollock

ST. CHARLES, Minnesota, JAN. 19, 2010 ( Catholic programs for single people are essential, even «critical,» David Sloan says, and thus he initiated several projects, including Singles Serving Orphans, to fill this need in the Church.

Along with the new nonprofit Singles Serving Orphans, which he told ZENIT is the «most effective means I have yet discovered for singles ministry,» Sloan helped found the National Catholic Singles Conferences, the Catholic Thrive conferences and the God of Desire seminars. He often speaks at these conferences and elsewhere around the country.

Sloan explained that humanity is currently in a «critical» moment, «because people are not getting married and having children.»

Thus, he said, there is a great need «to minister to the only people who could marry — singles.»

Sloan continued: «It is not good for the man or the woman to be alone. Humans were not designed to survive outside of family structures.

«God is family; Church is family; all life is family life. Outside of family there is only death and Hell.»

In this light, he said, single people need «to be brought out of the (necessarily sterilizing) isolation of modern life and into the family life of the Church.»


«No need, no poverty is greater than the poverty of living outside of family life and family love,» Sloan asserted.

This «personal passion to minister to those in greatest need» prompted him to dedicate himself to finding ways to serve single people in the Church.

The Church needs programs that address «the issues unique to the single life,» he said, which are different than items undertaken by most young adult ministry programs.

Along with Ellen Speltz, he founded the Singles Serving Orphans mission trips in February 2008, with 22 missionaries who gathered in Imuris, Mexico, at the Casa de Elizabeth Orphanage.

They returned 11 times after that first trip, giving themselves to orphanage repairs, cooking and cleaning for the 75 orphans, praying and playing with the children, and even having «water pistol wars.»

«Singles and orphans are a match truly made in Heaven,» Sloan said.

«At heart,» he affirmed, «the essential need of singles is to be drawn into the family life of the Church whether the person in question is 25 or 55.»


Speltz, the other founder of the program and the founder of its parent company, Youth Support Inc., told ZENIT that on these mission retreats, «singles from across the United States and Canada begin as co-workers, develop into friends, and become family.»

She continued: «As they pray together, work together, eat together and serve the orphans together, they share a common bond as they allow God to use them to make a tangible, life-changing difference in his children.

«It is thrilling, a gift, to be able to witness one’s impact so quickly and profoundly.»

The program states the aim to bring singles «from the isolation of modern life into a full life in God’s family.» Its Web site affirms that «serving God’s kids is the most direct route to forging that family bond.»

Now, in Holy Week, the missionaries will make their first overseas trip, to serve orphans in Jamaica.

The trips are not only practical, but spiritual retreats, «combining the virtues of charity and chastity as witnessed in the lives and teachings of Mother Teresa and John Paul II.»

An article on the Web site explained: «Charity is the grace from God which allows us to give what we have; chastity is the freedom which allows us to give what we are.»


Sloan stated to ZENIT: «Vocations, marriages, families, cannot come from isolated individuals. These necessary goods can come only from singles who are living fruitful lives within the family of the Church.»

«There is a form of vocation which is committed so completely that a person utterly renounces the possibility of being otherwise — this is total self-gift,» he said, or the «avowed state.»

«A primary purpose of the single life, or ‘unavowed state’ is to attain the type of true freedom which would allow a person to make such a true, authentic, and total gift,» Sloan said. «This is a profound, beautiful, and sublime aspect of the single life which needs to be better understood and appreciated.»

Sloan told ZENIT that he will be helping organize five Catholic Thrive conferences this year, the first being in Atlanta, Georgia, April 16-17.

On the God’s Family Web site, he offers several resources for Catholic singles, including a Guidebook for Singles Ministry, Twelve Principles of Dating and Courtship, and a «License to Date.»

«Though singles in our culture are suffering the gravest conceivable impoverishment, it must be pointed out that they are not responsible for this,» he said. «The singles around us are not the ones who broke the culture.»

Sloan continued: «How the culture got broken is another discussion, but the key here is that modern singles are trying to survive in a culture which has largely left family life behind.  

«Most of the singles we know would be married and raising families if the culture were healthier. We must not judge or cast aspersions.»

He added, «It is certainly true, as many have pointed out, that singles can, and many do, make extraordinary gifts of themselves in service to Christ and his Church.»

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On the Net:

Singles Serving Orphans:

Catholic Thrive:

God’s Family:

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