James and Liberty each took their call to seek God's will in their life seriously, so much so that Liberty briefly studied to be a nun, while James spent five years in the seminary before discerning a call to the married life. It's not surprising that when they connected and courted, it was done in a deeply prayerful way.
Thirty-eight-year-old James, living in South Dakota, was saying a daily prayer for his future spouse, a practice he began four years before joining CatholicMatch. As the timetable indicates, his vocation didn't reveal itself instantly.
"I had been trying online dating for over ten years," he said. "It was so hard to wait for God to answer my prayers of being with someone that would not only share my religious beliefs, but who had similar education, common interests and was close to the same age as me."
James might have been frustrated with the pace of God's plan, but he was persistent in staying the course. Eventually, one of his female friends suggested that he try CatholicMatch. She suggested it once, then twice and finally a third time before he decided to join this online community in December 2012. He didn't have high expectations, but was willing to try it for three months.
Liberty was the same age as James. Born in the Philippines, she was named after the Statue of Liberty, as her father was on military duty in the United States and in New York when she was born. She was living in Chicago and made first contact with James, attracted by the image of Divine Mercy that was in the background of one of his photos.
The contact made was indirect, an invitation for James to take the temperament test, but the connection was established. He hadn't had any luck connecting with anyone in the Dakotas, so he went ahead and took the test, then sent Liberty a message.
Liberty was doing her own praying for her future spouse. Even though she was convinced of her own call to marriage, she didn't want to rush and was waiting for what she called "God's special gift." It was in the midst of a novena near Christmas 2012 that she asked for a God-fearing man "with no vices who would be a good father and husband." She further requested of the Lord that marriage be the most meaningful stage of her life, concluding with the humble caveat of "not my will be done, but yours O Lord."
James liked what he saw in Liberty. She had lived in the United States for three years and obtained a master's degree. They had similar interests, namely classical music and oldies. There was the common devotion to Divine Mercy. And for one final coincidence, Liberty had once told a friend that the place that she most wanted to visit in the United States was Mount Rushmore, located in South Dakota.
The 800-mile distance between them was an issue, and neither one had envisioned themselves in a long-distance relationship. But they made it work like so many other long-distance couples have at CatholicMatch--regular messages, phone and Skype. They met for the first time in February 2013 when James traveled to Illinois.
"I was able to meet almost all of her family," he recalled. And there was one coincidence in particular that stood out. A longstanding prayer of Liberty's had been that God identify the man she was to marry by him giving her a rosary. James, completely in the dark about this, gave her an olive wood box and rosary made in the Holy Land. "After my first visit I felt strong that the next time would be to ask her to marry me," James said.
Appropriately enough, that next time was Divine Mercy Sunday last year, the weekend after Easter. Liberty had prayed her earlier novena by a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and it was there that James took her to ask her to marry him. She said yes.
James and Liberty wanted to be married close to a feast day of Our Lady, and they chose this past December 7, the Saturday before the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. They have settled in South Dakota. Liberty has gotten her wish of going to Mount Rushmore. More important, she and James have both found the spouse they have prayed for years to find. Below is the prayer that James recited each and every day for four years...
Heavenly Father, I know you have a plan for my life that will be my surest path to holiness and eternal happiness. Please give me the grace to remember this when temptations arise, and help me to make choices that will keep me on the path you have laid out for me. Please lead me to the vocation to which You call me and give me the strength to live it faithfully and with love. If my vocation is to marriage, please help my future wife to prepare herself for me. Please keep her close to You, help her grow in virtue and love for You. Lead us to each other in Your time and help us to be patient for that moment. Help us to grow in love, holiness, and purity of heart, and help to always keep you as the center of our lives. AMEN