“CatholicMatch means marriage and lots of babies,” Christina was told before joining the site and it came more in the form of a warning from her sister. Christina was a little more skeptical, but having just left religious life, she was open to trying whatever God wanted of her.
Christina came to CatholicMatch with a certain level of frustration. Hers did not come from dating frustration, but to something that many Catholics find to be a parallel concern—it was a frustration with finding God’s will. “Four years ago I had been six months away from solemn vows a cloistered nun, when God led me into the desert of solitude,” she told CatholicMatch. She entered a new religious community where formation began all over again. After some health issues, her discernment led her out of the consecrated life.
The decision to leave religious life was not easy, and much of it was heart-wrenching. “I finally let go of the live I had loved and lived for so long,” she recalled. She felt it important to clarify that she was NOT an “ex-nun”, nor had she made solemn vows, in the interests of not giving scandal. What Christina went through might not have been what the secular world would consider a breakup, but in reality it went even deeper and coming to CatholicMatch her approach to marriage was “You(God) want me married? Fine! I’ll make myself available. ”
Jeffrey’s path to CatholicMatch was no less unconventional. He was raised Lutheran and even entered the seminary, but prior to that he had lived a life he candidly described as “hedonism, alcohol and self-absorption.” His decision to start the process of becoming a pastor ultimately led him to the Catholic Church.
The journey to Catholicism was reminiscent of prominent Protestant converts ranging from Scott Hahn to Steve Wood. “I will never forget when my professor told us that John chapter 6 had nothing to do with the Eucharist. The more I began to study the more Catholicism began to pour off of every page of Scripture.” Then EWTN became a part of his life and “I was a goner.”
It was through television that Jeff learned to pray the rosary, but it wasn’t EWTN. It was watching Godfather II. At the end of the movie one of the characters in the Corleone mafia family is reciting the Hail Mary right before he’s murdered and Jeff went to the film to learn the words to the prayer.
He thought he was on his way to the priesthood, but the religious orders he talked to advised him to first really learn the Faith and get settled into a new life and receive Confirmation. To Jeff, he was feeling rejected by God and by the Catholic Church. For reasons he still doesn’t really recall, he went ahead and posted a profile on CatholicMatch to try something new.
Christina had problems on CatholicMatch, but it certainly wasn’t in a shortage of potential candidates. She worked to sift through the men contacting her, and one thing there also wasn’t a shortage of were misunderstandings. In some cases, the men writing her left upset, in other cases, she was the one who was annoyed. It’s a good lesson that online dating can never be seen as an escape from the basic challenges of human interaction. Online dating is one more avenue to meet people, but good people having hurt feelings are an all-to-real part of the process for everyone.
Jeff approached CatholicMatch in precisely the opposite way. Christina was the only woman he ever contacted. While some found her theological knowledge and devotional intensity to be intimidating, he welcomed it and admired the ten years she’d spent in religious life. He began to fall in love over exchanged messages and they were soon able to meet for a daily Mass.
The decision for Christina to open up communication with Jeffrey was an example of willingness to step outside the box. While her profile was filled with detail, his was a couple sentences. But he affirmed the seven teachings of the Church and the two sentences focused on a woman who loved the rosary and wanted a family. She decided to give him a chance. And that mid-day Mass date stretched into lunch and then several hours of theological conversation. Something special was underway.
That something special did not begin with any formal courtship. They continued to get to know each other. Jeff shared the problems of his pre-seminary past and Christina acknowledged that she too had spent her early teen years running from God and Catholic morals.
Christina and Jeff were moving closer to courtship. He knew she was in contact with other men and spent nights in prayer asking that God would send her in his direction. Christina made the decision to focus on an exclusive relationship with him and ended contact with her other suitors.
They met on a First Friday for Mass and Adoration. Afterward they went out for a drink, and half a glass of wine had its effect on Christina. In her words, Jeffrey “took the opportunity to teach me how to kiss and told me he was falling in love with me.” He asked to meet her parents and they were soon helping Christina’s mom and dad put up their Christmas tree. The following date was on December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. They spent all day at a convent in a quiet area, where they prayed, talked, hiked and cooked dinner.
He proposed marriage on that December 8 date, but Christina still stayed in prayer. Jeff stayed persistent on a New Year’s Day 2011 she said yes. “I realized I was with my best friend and that God had given me my soul mate,” she said. “I will never forget the day she told me she ended the other CM relationships and chose to see only me,” Jeff told CatholicMatch. “She has made me the happiest man in the world…I have never met anyone like her and I never will.”