By 2005, there were already countless success stories coming out of
Catholic Match. Stories of engagements and relationships were flowing
in. But there was something missing—CM members gathering in community.
As gratifying as every success story is, there was still a missing
community element. Members were meeting each other in the message
forums and elsewhere online daily, but face-to-face contact free of the
pressures that come with a first date had yet to be created.
That void created the inspiration for one of the healthiest movements
begun in the history of Catholic Match. The movement to start arranging
events where the membership could come together in a group setting,
free of the pressure that accompanies a first face-to-face date was
spawned. An unofficial grass-roots movement began. “CM Gatherings” started
popping up all over the fruited plain, and Catholic Match Nation was
Major league baseball had its origins in Cincinnati, and so does
Catholic Match Nation. In May ’05, the first gathering was held in the
Queen City. A trip to an amusement park, dinner, Sunday Mass together,
helped bring people together. A few months later in Chicago the
gathering got a little bigger, as the Nation rocked the Windy City.
In these first gatherings, the general outline for future events was
taking shape. There was a meet-and-greet on Friday night. Saturday was
filled with different activities pre-arranged by local members to help
show off their home city. A restaurant was booked for dinner, large
enough to accommodate the group, which could range anywhere from 20 to
60 members. Come Sunday morning, everyone went to Mass together and a
brunch afterward gave folks a chance to say their goodbyes.
New York City was the next big showcase. It started in the St. Thomas
More Room on the message forums. The room devoted to politics was known
as “the War Room” and this event became called the “War Room Lovefest.”
Members visited the Statue of Liberty, took a ferry ride through
Manhattan, and had the chance to see historic St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
The “Lovefest” produced a celebrated success story, and its reunion is
scheduled for next March.
Most of the activity to date had taken place north of the Mason-Dixon
line. But Texans have never been known to be shy, and it wasn’t long
before the Lone Star State rose up. An event was organized for San
Antonio, and even though its founder fell ill, others picked up the
slack. An event in Philadelphia was initiated from the other side of
Pennsylvania, and local members came forward and made sure it was a
success. A clear message had gone out to the world—CM Nation would not
Two cities with contrasting images and styles were up next. From the
rustbelt of Cleveland to the romance of Niagara Falls, members came
together. And in both cities, a reunion has already been scheduled for
2007. In late September, CM Detroit took the nation by storm. Most
gatherings had several months lead time to market and prepare. Not the
Motor City. The event in Detroit appeared in the calendar in late July,
and with stunning speed, needed just two months to become one of the
best-attended events of the year.
One of the attendees was Edward-4511. Amidst the emerging Catholic
Match Nation movement, being in a wheelchair would not stop “Zoom” as
he became affectionately known, from getting where he wanted to go. He
came to New York. He came to Niagara Falls. And even car trouble on the
way home didn’t slow him down. He came to Detroit, where one of
the activities was a trip to the ballpark to watch his beloved Tigers.
Both CM Detroit and “Zoom” have a lot in common with their favorite
team. Both came out of nowhere. And neither ever quit.
As ’06 rounded into the second half, the “second editions” of major
gatherings began to unfold. CM Chicago had its second reunion, and was
a smashing success, replete with prime-time trolley rides, and boat
excursions on Lake Michigan. And Boston grew into a major player on the
events scene. A small local edition in the fall of ’05 created the
impetus for a major event this past October. Upwards of fifty members
came from as far as Colorado, and were treated to the Duck Tour on the
Charles River and a scenic ride up the New England coast. The 2007 event
in America’s oldest city has already been placed on the docket.
These are just a few of the events that have unfolded. As this article
goes online, gatherings in Memphis and Yosemite Park are just days
away. A major event in Florida is around the corner in February. The
first-ever gathering in Europe will take place in the summer. Among
many more. Catholic Match Nation has arrived. Ideally, we’d get
recognition from the U.N. But short of that, making a few new friends,
having a lot of fun and perhaps finding the person of your dreams, will
suffice for most.