Mike and Katie didn’t lack familiarity with CatholicMatch or the world of online dating when they joined the website. While Katie had been aware of the site for years, through her involvement in Catholic youth activities at Florida State, Mike’s experience was much closer to home.
“His parents call CatholicMatch ‘the family website,’ Katie said. It turns out that Mike’s brother Sean also met his wife Renee here—in fact, they were recently featured in the member stories. Mike also has a younger brother currently dating someone he met through CatholicMatch. So neither one needed to be sold on the value of online dating.
Nor did either need to be persuaded of the importance of finding someone to share their faith with. “Life and marriage is hard enough without having agreement there,” Katie said, explaining why it was a prerequisite for her that a potential suitor affirm Church teaching on the seven doctrinal questions asked in the CatholicMatch profile. What’s more, she liked that the profile structure enabled potentially touchy questions to be cleared up right away. “It’s awkward trying to work stuff like contraception into a conversation,” she said, citing one example.
Katie, currently 28-years-old and working at the University of Virginia, didn’t meet immediate success on CatholicMatch though. She dated different men, both through the website and elsewhere, but nothing was clicking. “I kept going back to CatholicMatch as an anchor,” she recalled. “To find people I knew were solid.”
Finally, she settled on a strategy that was simple, but would require persistence—set aside time each night to contact people and reach out. “You can’t sit back and expect a message from the man of your dreams to just show up,” she said. “Things don’t just work magically.”
It was during these nightly sessions that she came across Mike’s profile. At the time, Katie was living and working in Washington D.C., and Mike was a manageable two hours away in Charlottesville. He hadn’t dated seriously since while in college back before 2009. Since then, he’d thrown himself into his commitment to his Army training and joined CatholicMatch when he got to Charlottesville. “There were only college girls in town and I didn’t want that,” he said.
Katie read through Mike’s profile and saw that he was very into Notre Dame football. It created an opening on two grounds. For one, Katie loves college football and is intensely loyal to her alma mater—which at the time was just a few months removed from a bowl victory over the Fighting Irish. And she also had recently been offered a job at Notre Dame, though she ended up turning it down. In either case, a simple little opening is all you need to start a message exchange, so Notre Dame was their starting point.
Mike wasn’t a full member at the time that Katie’s message came in, but he made it a point to review the profiles of those who did contact him. Katie’s made him go “Hmmm…” It was enough to persuade him to take out a full membership so he could respond. Two days later they were getting together for dinner.
With faith as their foundation and common interests to share, Mike and Katie also found there was a natural chemistry that made their relationship complete. “What more do you want?,” Katie asked rhetorically, with regards to the trifecta they had in common. Katie is an ebullient, upbeat person, and she loves that Mike shares the same kind of optimism about life, with a cup half-full attitude.
After they’d been dating for three months, a threshold conversation between the two took place. Katie was making reference to a relationship between another couple they knew and said “she sees him as the father of her children.” Mike took the opening and asked her “How do you view me?” Here is the rest of the conversation as recounted by Katie…
Katie: Mike, that’s the most direct question you’ve ever asked me
Mike: I want to know.
Katie: That’s how I view you too.
Mike: That’s how I view myself.
Katie: You view yourself as the father of your own children?
Mike: (Caught off guard, stammering) You know what I mean.
Indeed, they both knew what the other meant and both verbalized that they’d all but agreed to get married one day.
If that conversation wasn’t a threshold point, a coming relocation would be. Mike works as a government contractor and told Katie that he would have no problem getting a job in D.C., where she was still employed at Catholic University. She was less than keen on living in the D.C. area though, and decided to try for a job by him. She landed her current post at UVA, and being in the same town took their relationship to a new level.
Mike knew what he had in Katie, and he loved her commitment to family—not just hers, but his as well. I’m from a family of five brothers, my dad’s from a family of eight and I have 32 first cousins,” he said. Katie immersed herself in getting to know the people closest to him, and it meant a great deal to Mike that she so freely brought him around to her own family. He made up his mind to propose exactly one year to the day that she sent him the first message.
It’s at this point that we would normally tell you how the proposal unfolded, but Mike and Katie have done one better. He organized a surprise party, where he would give her the ring, and Katie’s father took a home video of the event, including the proposal. It’s available on YouTube and can be viewed below. The closeness between the families is apparent as you watch it, as is how happy Katie’s friends are for her. Katie’s father repeatedly asks people in the buildup “Will she accept the ring?” as we wait for the happy couple to appear.
Katie did accept the ring and she and Mike are now moving forward with wedding plans, enjoying their families and of course looking forward to college football season. With faith, family and football all going for them, what could be grander?