It had been a year since Sonia put aside her deep reservations about online dating and joined CatholicMatch. She came across Zach’s profile, and while there was geographic distance between them—he was in Birmingham, while she was over 250 miles away in Knoxville—there was spiritual compatibility. And there was an up-front quality both of them had that enabled the relationship to get started.
Zach saw in his encounters that Sonia had viewed his profile, and rather than engage in the perpetual dance of trading profile views—he immediately reached out and wrote Sonja a message. She had already enjoyed the often-quirky profile descriptions he had of himself and hit him with a blunt comment back in return.
“I think you win the game of ‘who-has-the-most-pictures-in-their-Catholic-match profile?’”, she wrote. They each found the other’s straightforwardness refreshing, and from there they were drawn into discussions of both faith and culture, where they found themselves walking the same path.
Sonia’s commitment to her faith was the only reason she put aside her doubts regarding online dating and joined CatholicMatch. Zach’s own dedication to Christ was such that he had seriously discerned the priesthood before pursuing the vocation of marriage.
They also found plenty to talk about. If it wasn’t Catholicism, it could be Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. If it wasn’t deep works of literature, it was Star Trek or Buffy The Vampire Slayer or “testing each other with geeky trivia”, as Sonia put it. There was an exquisite balance woven into all that Zach and Sonia shared in common.
Zach and Sonia spent a month communicating online before deciding to meet in person. Sonia worked retail, which makes scheduling weekends difficult, but Zach took the burden of making the drive to and from Knoxville so they could continue to get to know each other.
“Zach blew everyone away,” Sonia said. The challenges the couple faced in building a long-distance relationship were real, but today they feel that one part of their journey together was listening to God and overcoming those challenges together.
The methods of building their relationship were often creative. In addition to the instant electronic communication of the modern world, Zach reached into the past and wrote Sonia handwritten letters on antique paper with his family crest, even sealing it with a wax seal. Or he might sing a song on her voice mail, altering the names in a love song to make it about him and Sonia.
Sonia saw that Zach was like no other man she’d ever met. She felt as though what was taking place was beyond her comprehension, and described her first trip to Birmingham to meet his family as “surreal.” She would go on to describe Zach as “an extremely loving person. The most giving and empathetic person I have ever met…the efforts and sacrifices he made to keep our long-distance relationship strong…continued to amaze me.”
The couple had been discussing their future together, when Zach made another trip to Knoxville in December 2010. He, Sonia and her parents came back from a parish reception following a Mass celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Zach, having already spoken to her parents, asked Sonia for her hand in marriage and she said yes.
Zach and Sonia were married in June 2011 in her hometown of Knoxville, Tenn. Their creativity would shine through the wedding and the reception. The ceremony itself—approved by the marriage priest—was a mix of contemporary and traditional, and they made their exit as husband and wife to the “Throne Room” theme of the original Star Wars. And the tribute on the wedding cake was written in a Tolkien-ish scrip..and marked with the same seal design that Zach had used to send his letters to Sonia.
They have now been married for two years, hoping to start a family and see what the next adventure they have together will be. They know they will share it together and find inspiration in a quote from Dr. Seuss that was on their wedding invitation…
“We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.”
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