How to Find Catholic Friends in College

how to make friends in college

My college journey led me to three different schools over five years as I refined my major, and then transferred until I landed on the right program for me. While I never expected to wind up a near-perpetual transfer student, this did offer me the opportunity to experience three different campuses, student cultures, Catholic centers, and more. And I learned how to seek out and find a community in each environment.

Here’s the good news: whether you’re at a Catholic college, a small liberal arts school, a giant public university, or anything in between, there are people there who are looking for you, too. One of the most beautiful things about college is that everyone—even people who arrived with seemingly half their high school friend group—is embarking on a new chapter of their lives. Everyone is at least somewhat open to the new people and experiences that chapter will bring. No one person is the “new kid”. Everyone is.

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How to Find Catholic Friends in College

When it comes to finding Catholic friends in college, above all, keep your heart softened and your eyes opened for opportunities to reach out and interact with people.

Participate in the Sacraments

In college or not, participating in the Sacraments is one of the (if not the) most important, fruitful things we can do. We desperately need the strength and grace we draw from the Eucharist and Reconciliation. We need this grace to grow in relationship with God and to live out our vocations well. This includes the calling to be a student in specific seasons, like in college. As Catholics, we are asked to physically show up to Mass each Sunday. Because there, Jesus physically shows up for us. Our presence matters.

I believe God knew what He was doing when He asked this of us. He knew that someday, we’d live in a world of podcast sermons and Sunday live streams. While those things are wonderful, our physical presence matters. Not only does it give us the opportunity to grow in relationship with the Lord and to receive Him in the Eucharist, it also places us side by side with our brothers and sisters. Together, we stand and kneel and bow and sit as one.

My number one piece of advice for finding Catholic friends in college, or anywhere else for that matter? Live out your own Faith. Show up for Mass, participate in the liturgy, sign up for a holy hour, serve. As you seek to follow Jesus, others doing the same are bound to cross your path.

As Catholics, we are asked to physically show up to Mass each Sunday. Because there, Jesus physically shows up for us. Our presence matters. #BISblog // Click To Tweet

Join Catholic Community Groups

Depending on your school, the opportunities to gather with fellow Catholics may be abundant or few. But most schools have at least something. I started college at Franciscan University, where it would honestly be harder to find non-Catholic friends than Catholic ones. Catholic schools are a tremendous blessing in that way! Even still, people were encouraged to gather in specific ways depending on their gifts (music ministry, service groups, mission trips, etc.) and their spiritual charisms and devotions (households, retreats, etc.).

Attending a secular school? Seek out your campus’ Catholic center (often called the Newman Center) to find Bible studies, clubs, and service opportunities through the university’s church. Check the FOCUS directory to see if there are missionaries on your campus.

I was nervous about finding Catholic friends at the gigantic University of Texas after leaving the comfort of my beloved household sisters at Franciscan. But, knowing I thrive and find so much joy in groups of women pursuing holiness together, I looked specifically for Catholic women’s groups on campus. I came across Mu Epsilon Theta, a national Catholic sorority. The friends I made there are just as precious, and called me on to holiness just as much. And for that, I’m forever grateful.

Join Campus Organizations…

…that align with Catholic teachings or culture. 

Just because you’re Catholic and desire friendships with people of the same Faith doesn’t mean that church is the only place to form those relationships. Is there a cause that God has burdened your heart with, a type of service you feel called to, or a gift you can use to bring light to others? Don’t be afraid to seek out campus groups that aren’t specifically religious. If the mission of that organization corresponds with a Catholic teaching or prominent aspect of Catholic culture, chances are, you’ll find other Catholics (who share one of your passions!) there.

Get creative! Look into pro-life organizations, Habitat for Humanity, groups that serve the poor and vulnerable, opportunities to work with children or the elderly, philosophical discussion groups, campus choirs, art history clubs, and so much more.

Approach Others

I’m an introvert through and through, so putting myself out there does not come naturally to me. But do you want to know how I met at least half of my college friends? I went up to them and genuinely complimented something about their outfit. I’m not exaggerating. I’m willing to bet it’s around 50%. This is an especially easy thing to do at Mass when people are dressed up!

Keep your eyes open for opportunities to go first. To be the person who goes out of their way to say, “Hi, can I help you with that?” or “Are you new here?” or “I love your shoes!” I think we all occasionally fall into the trap of believing that we’re lonelier than everyone else. That it’s someone else’s job to approach us. But that’s a lie. More often than not, we can take responsibility for filling our lives with friendships. It just takes a little bit of bravery and vulnerability.

Pray for True Friends

Never believe the cultural misconception that prayer is passive. Prayer, on the contrary, is one of the most powerful things we can do. Ask God to put holy friends in your path. Pray to become a good friend yourself and to show up for people well. Pray for the boldness to say hello first, to go to an event at church even though you won’t know anyone there (yet!), or to start a Catholic group on campus. God created us to walk alongside one another and He has a perfect plan for the relationships you’ll foster in college.

God created us to walk alongside one another and He has a perfect plan for the relationships you’ll foster in college. #BISblog // Click To Tweet

If you’ve been in college for a few years or have already graduated, what wisdom do you have to share with new college students about making Catholic friends?

How to Find Catholic Friends in College #BISblog // Click To Tweet

Lisa Kirk is a wife, mama, and writer in Raleigh, North Carolina. She loves city life, Sunday brunch, and the beauty she uncovers (almost) daily in her vocation. In between snuggling with her toddler and dating her handsome husband, she blogs about family, faith, and feminine style on Something Pretty.

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  • Reply
    Paola @ Swallow the World
    August 23, 2018 at 3:14 pm

    Very good post! I made great Catholic friends joining the Pastoral group of my faculty. We’ve helped each other grow in the faith 🙂

  • Reply
    August 26, 2018 at 12:03 am

    No Catholic here owes Mr. Johnson an explanation of Catholic doctrines if he does not have the humility to ask questions in appropriate manner. He claims that his blog is for Protestants and would quickly ban Catholics from there (I was banned, and so were some other Catholics). On what basis can a Catholic engage a Protestant? They can easily dismiss or redefine the Christian history and Christian story as they see fit. In the long run, who is going to mediate between Catholics and this lone ranger Protestant? How will the truth about Mary or any other dogmatized teaching of the Church be decided between this man and faithful Catholics? Be careful not to wate your time here.

  • Reply
    Joan Crietel
    September 21, 2018 at 5:57 am

    This feed is very helpful, thank you!
    I feel blessed to have read this article, and was touched with any things that you have mentioned since I was once a freshie in a college ans had a very small circle of catholic friends too. I remembered being the freshie, and if it isn’t too much, can I share this article in our catholic student group blog? I wonder if I were allowed to used your blog content to help the freshie students in my college 🙂 Hoping for you reply! ^^

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