In the following both of us (Jacob and Esther) will be sharing our story through our different perspectives.
Jacob: I had been discerning my vocation for sometime. As a young man growing up in Catholic grade school, high school and college I knew that I wanted to be holy and to pursue Heaven. In my late teens and early 20's, I believed that the priesthood could be my vocation.
I spent my first two years in college seminary, only to learn that this was NOT my vocation. Several years went by, not meeting the kind of girl that shared my high ideals, ideals centered on living for Christ and His Church. I tried a few other dating sites, but did not find that ONE. I then heard about Catholic Match on Relevant Radio, a Catholic radio station in the Twin Cities, Minnesota . I RELUCTANTLY gave it a try. There was definitely in my mind an initial stigma towards online dating; it kind of made me think of the whole 'mail-order bride' sort of thing. But I signed up in late December, 2008, met some solid Catholic women, and then came Esther…
Esther: I had been off and on Catholic Match as well as Ave Maria Singles for years, always with the idealistic hope that I would find someone, but also a realistic pessimism in knowing that this online thing was not the typical way of meeting one’s future spouse.
By the end of January/beginning of February I was applying for a year-round camp job in Texas. I still wanted to meet someone, but figured I better just move on with my life instead of waiting around for Mr. Right. So what did I do? I just casually browsed the profiles of the Texan fellows. 🙂
Right around the time when I was interviewing for the Texas job, I started noticing Jacob’s profile. He lived in Minnesota …nowhere near Texas . But I just couldn’t get that face out of my mind. I was intrigued by this music teacher, especially the fact that he seemed to love his faith and made it a part of his daily life. And, if he was true to his word and would like to pray with me, I knew he was someone worth getting to know.
Jacob: Esther lived four hours away, just west of the Minnesota/South Dakota border. Her pictures intrigued me right away – candid pictures, pictures of her in nature, pictures of her dancing in fields, picking apples, sitting on a sunny dock. She looked beautiful. Upon reviewing her profile, she similarly agreed to all the faith questions, had a devotion to Christ's Sacred Heart, had a special devotion to St. Joseph and St. Gianna, and prayed many of the same kinds of prayers I was familiar with. Additionally, she was a regular Mass-attendee, and longed for holiness. This combination of beauty, solid faith and gentle spirit made our connection all the stronger. We began with a simple emotigram or two, followed by a few weeks of emails over the site, with a week or two of chatting.
I can remember the first time we talked over the phone. In our online chat that evening, perhaps 3 or 4 weeks since we started communicating, our conversation hit what I thought could be a snag. I had typed something about relationships that could have been misinterpreted. Having gone through a pretty tumultuous realationship/breakup three months earlier, I had some feelings about how a relationship should work and feel. Anyway, I felt that I instantly had to repair it; (I didn't want to lose Esther). So I asked her for her phone number. She typed it to me. As it turns out, I don't think she thought much of my comment or even viewed it badly. But it was then, at 11:15 at night, (on a school night!), that I knew I felt more intensely about her than anyone I had ever known, since I wanted to make SURE that she knew my meaning and intention. Since that night we talked a few times a week for a few weeks, and then, in the middle of March, nearly every night since.
Esther was the first girl I ever LOOKED forward to hearing from or talking to. Not being a huge phone guy, I found that my attraction to her, even in talking about the little things in life: favorite books, movies, foods, was growing steadily. And then she told me that at the end of March she was coming to the Twin Cities to go to a wedding shower of a friend. I asked if she'd like to meet and she said yes. We decided to meet at Stations of the Cross at my parish, where I serve as organist. I remember seeing her, kneeling down towards the middle back of the church, praying before-hand. I shyly went out and met her before having the luxury of going up to the choir loft to re-gather myself. After Stations, we went out for a fish dinner, walked around a small, local lake and prayed a rosary back at my parish in front of the Blessed Sacrament. She then invited me to listen to a few Danielle Rose songs (Catholic musician) in her car before saying good night. We saw each other two days later, on Sunday, and spent some time exploring downtown St. Paul with a friend of her's, before bidding goodbye for the weekend.
A few “emotigrams” were exchanged, but the first email came on Feb. 3. Jacob expressed an interest in getting to know me, and told me about how his brother announced to everyone at his wedding that it was his job to get his wife to Heaven, and vice versa…and Jacob felt the same way. I realize now that kind of language might not be familiar to most people, but to me, I know no other way. That was just the start of emails and chat sessions that just felt so….natural. I began hopping online almost every night, just to see if he would be there, or if there would be an email from him. I didn’t want to get too excited too fast, because I’d chatted online with guys before, and we seemed to have a real connection, but in-person meetings revealed something quite different.
We decided we’d meet for coffee the last weekend in March, since I would be in the Twin Cities area for a friend’s bridal shower. A couple weeks before we were to meet, Jacob suggested we talk on the phone before we meet, to make the transition a little easier. I agreed, but was still very nervous. The first time he called, it was pretty late at night after we’d been chatting for awhile. When I picked up the phone and heard his voice, I was simply overcome…it was the most soothing sound I had ever heard. I probably fumbled over my words, for I just wanted to listen to his voice. I’d never had such an experience before in simply hearing someone’s voice. I knew then that I couldn’t wait for him to call again, which was strange for both of us, since neither of us were big phone talkers.
We talked a number of times after that, and our “coffee” date turned into a full Friday night as well as Sunday morning/afternoon. I met him at his church that Friday night in Lent for Stations of the Cross. He had to play for them, so he came and greeted me briefly in the pew before heading up to the choir loft. I think we were both able to breathe a little sigh of relief that the first “meeting” had been accomplished, yet we still had some time to gather our nerves before actually spending the evening together. I didn’t quite know what to do when Stations were over, so instead of waiting for him, I took my little giddy courage and popped up to the choir loft and asked if he would play me something, so that I could not only hear him play, but SEE him play. He obliged me, and then, after a tour of the church and school, we headed out to dinner.
He took me to this really great place for fish, where we sat and enjoyed one another’s company. Though we were both nervous, it was the most comfortable nervous I’d ever experienced. I was extremely impressed with his conversation and communication skills from the very beginning. When I am nervous I never know what to say, but he was able to come up with enough questions and conversation for the whole evening.
After dinner we took a walk around Como Lake and then headed back to his car. Seeing that it was already 11:00, he turned and asked, “Well, what do you think?” Without hesitation, I told him, “I don’t really want to go home yet, but I guess it is getting kinda late….” So he suggested we go pray a rosary at a nearby church. Talk about a wonderful date. We both knelt before the Tabernacle, the only light in the church shimmering there to signify our Lord’s presence. When it was time to say the “Hail, Holy Queen” I nudged him, asked if we could sing the Salve Regina. I really did want to sing this beautiful song in prayer to our Lady, but I also knew it was a sneaky way to get to hear him sing. 🙂 As we said goodbye that night, I knew I wanted to see him again on Sunday, and many times after.
Over the next months, we were able to see each other every 2-3 weeks or so – sometimes more, sometimes less. We spent time with each other's family and friends, getting to know those who are important in the the other's life. As we grew in friendship and love, I realized I had never felt more myself. A line I love from the movie Fireproof said, "A woman's like a rose. If you treat her right, she'll bloom. If you don't, she'll wilt." I have, like many women, known what is like to wilt. Jacob is the first one who has made me bloom and flourish, as he draws me closer to our Lord. I knew within a few months that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this man, and four months after our first face-to-face, we were engaged. And I couldn't be happier. Some may think that is a quick engagement, and it is. But Catholic Match creates such a unique opportunity for growing in friendship and relationship, that when Jacob came into my life, I just knew. Also, because we get to spend entire weekends with each other, we get to know more of the complete person and how he/she lives her life, than with the typical dating scene. We are planning to be joined in the Sacrament of Marriage on July 24, 2010.
Jacob: There is much more I could say, but Esther has done a good job. 🙂 I will say that Catholic Match has made an infinite amount of impact on my life. In being able to share that I am a man who loves being Catholic and who loves our Lord and then being able to reach out and find a woman with the same desires and heart, has allowed me to know my vocation. I know, with a prayerful clarity I have never had before, that Esther is the one I'm called to spend the rest of my life with. She is beautiful in every way one can be, and I cannot wait until July, 2010. To all the single guys out there who are looking: this site, when used honestly and with all the conviction of your heart and soul, is a powerful means of God's grace and a solid way to discover the one He is leading you to.
Please pray for us as we move forward in our engagement time and into our married life. Of course there are lots of wedding plans and details already being shared and exchanged, but the most exciting thing for me is that we are going to be a family in Jesus Christ. A family… these words blow me away sometimes! And it is so because someone thought that a website that would seek to unite people based on those heavenly, eternal things mattered. Praise God!