Small slights, perhaps, but ones that reminded these Catholic single moms that they are not the norm.

The default expectation in our culture—and our church—is that families have mothers and fathers.

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Catholic singles groups were filled with childless singles, including some men who were borderline cruel about French’s divorced status.

At her son’s Catholic school, there were few fellow single moms.

Their pastor anointed Chris and baptized their newborn daughter at his bedside.

The parish where they had met—he was the choir director and she sang in the choir—had been supportive with meals and babysitting during the tumultuous weeks since his diagnosis.

“You want to have this family experience, but it’s just you.

Everyone else is busy with their own families.” So French sought out her own support network.

“Just to be in a place that was peaceful and where you knew people were trying to get along and do the right thing was comforting,” she says. There was some place to go.” French also found other Catholics to be compassionate, including those who helped her through the annulment process.

That’s not to say there haven’t been painful moments, too.

When she and her husband separated, she lived in a Chicago suburb, across the street from her parish.