When Gina, 24, joined CatholicMatch in January of 2013, she set her distance parameters to a 20-mile radius. She figured that with so many Catholics living in Cleveland, Ohio, she should be able to meet someone nearby.
Luckily, Brian, 28, had his parameters set to a statewide search. When Gina saw that he had viewed her profile, she took a closer look. "I was really intrigued by him. What I found reading his profile was authenticity. He was living out his faith; he answered yes to every faith question." Gina had joined CatholicMatch because she wasn't meeting authentically Catholic men.
Three weeks later, on a brisk, snow covered day, Gina was sitting on a bench waiting to meet Brian for their first date. When a fancy, white Buick pulled up with the license plates that read "PROVITA" (PROLIFE), Gina was surprised. Brian had told her that he'd be driving a Buick, but she wasn't expecting a grandma car! When their eyes met, she knew instantly that it was him.
One of the first things that she noticed about Brian was that he has a bronze speck in one of his blue eyes. "It's darling and it's so imperfect, but precious to me. The average person probably wouldn't even notice it, but I saw it right away," she remembers.
The two sat in a bagel shop in the middle of day talking for hours. "I knew right away that I was interested. We had great conversations," Gina says. "I was also impressed that he drove three and a half hours on snowy roads to meet me. He wanted to meet me where I was from, but he didn't pressure me into meeting at my home. I sensed that he very much wanted to protect me and keep me safe--which is the role of the man in marriage. I was really appreciative of that."
From the beginning, Gina and Brian knew that the other was deliberately looking to marry and that they weren't just looking to date around. "We intentionally prayed to God that He would direct us and that it would be His will--not our own imposed will," Gina explains. "We didn't want the fact that we were very attracted to one another and excited about the potential to get in the way of God's will."
One of the biggest obstacles in their relationship was the winter weather and the long drive to see each other. "We felt like we needed to be in the same place to really court and discern marriage," Gina remembers. "We had a talk about where the relationship was going, and we decided that ultimately one of us would move."
Gina says, "At the time, I had a phenomenal job that I loved; I was deeply passionate about working with children with special needs. However, Brian's RCIA work at a parish was not the kind of position that he could easily leave."
They discussed and prayed about the decision, and it shook out that Gina would be the one to move. This was a gutsy step to take, considering she didn't have a ring on her finger.
"I would do it a million times over," she says. "Though, it did feel a little bit crazy in the middle of it."
In July of 2013, Gina ended up moving an hour away from Brian, who was from Columbus area. She took a nannying position with a little boy who had autism.
"At the time, my mother was very much like, 'I cannot believe that you are doing this!' My dad said, 'You got to do what you got to do.' However, my siblings and my friends were very excited. Everybody liked him a whole lot. They saw in him and in me what we were both looking for," she says.
Almost every week, Gina and Brian would go to visit Immaculate Conception Church in Columbus; they liked to pray in the church's grotto to Our Lady. It was here that Brian asked Gina to marry him. The couple went there to pray Evening Prayer. It was September 14th, 2013, the Feast of the Exultation of the Cross. "We had just finished praying and I put my head on his shoulder, and we were looking up at the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He said, 'Gina' in this very particular way in which he had never said my name before. Even though I didn't suspect that he was about to propose, as soon as he said my name, I knew!"
Brian got down on one knee. He said, "I love you and I want to get you to heaven. I want to provide for you in this life; I want to help you get into the next, and I want to help you bring up in the Faith any children that we might have."
On January 4th, 2014 at Saint Mary of the Assumption in Lancaster, Ohio , the couple had a simple morning wedding with a luncheon afterwards. "We really wanted to be with the people that we loved. We didn't want a fancy wedding, which would make it so we had to exclude people," Gina says.