"A society in which marriage is the only way for adults to pledge lasting love and care to one another is a society in which marriages themselves are weaker."*
In Catholicism, there is a tradition of promoting and being open to different vocations. This is not limited to career choice; although we tend to say that one is "called" to be a teacher, health care professional, or other profession in which others are cared for or served, there are other ways in which we are called to serve and love.
A vocation in this sense means that some of us are called to be married; some are called to be married and raise children; some are called to take holy orders; and still others are called to be single. There is a distinct lack of hierarchy which I find extremely comforting given that our society often promotes marriage and parenthood as "higher callings," something I see as detrimental to those who, whether by choice or circumstance, do not follow those paths. We are all called to love and care for each other, but there are a multiple of ways in which we can do that.
I've been staying away from the Catholic church for more than a year now. I still believe in the same tenets and teachings, with the same disagreements, but it's been a long time since I felt any kind of holy presence in a Catholic church. I haven't felt especially welcome, although I haven't felt unwelcome, either; I've felt overlooked. I think Catholicism had inadvertently made families and the much older and much younger central to its services. This is partly how it should be, but I know from Catholic tradition that I have as much value, as a childless, married woman as someone who has children. Attending Mass alone, or without a family, can lead one to feelings of exclusion.
I could volunteer for one of the Liturgical Ministries at my church, and I may start doing so in order to feel a connection again.
* Tushnet, Eve. “Beyond Religious Life and Marriage: A Look at Friendship as Vocation.” America Magazine, America Magazine, 24 Jan. 2017, www.americamagazine.org/faith/2017/01/24/beyond-religious-life-and-marriage-look-friendship-vocation.