I’m a romantic, born and raised, sappy as all get out. I love the thought of the courtship, the wedding, the marriage, the baby carriage….ah yes, once upon a time, I thought that that was all going to be mine. I thought I’d be ready, set, go by 25 and I’d have my wedding and baby carriages.
But alas, at age 48, it hasn’t happened…yet!
Although I was somewhat shy growing up, after college I figured I should do something about meeting someone so I started checking out the personals in my local paper. To this date I can’t believe I actually tried that! It was interesting to say the least, and I did meet a sweet Catholic gentleman, but it didn’t work.
I decided to check out the local young adult/Catholic singles groups in the area, seeing that my Catholic faith is very important to me. I met a nice group of people, many whom are still my friends and some who are fellow CatholicMatch members. As a matter of fact, one of those friends, Ron-1935, one day told me about this new free Catholic singles site called St. Raphael.net, which he called SRN. It was August 1999. I decided to check it out. The Internet was a new fascinating world for me. And I joined.
Back then, the site was barebones, not too many members and only a few forums. I didn’t understand the whole forum concept so, I didn’t participate in them. One funny thing I do remember about those days was that if I did post in a forum, I could never find what I posted again; I couldn’t recall where I said, what I said! Shortly after that, I forgot about the site.
Several months passed and then Ron asked me, “Have you seen SRN lately? It’s changed a lot!”
When I logged on again, I was wowed. Membership had increased, it was flashier and more colorful. (Hey, I’m a female, I like color and a bit of flash!) So I got busy! I began posting in the forums, learning my way around the site (so I could find my postings) and I checking out the various profiles.
Not long after that I met my first Internet friend, who is still a close friend, my “little sister” Kathleen-5781. We met for a show and dinner one night and toasted to our friendship. It was great how the Internet brought us together.
Though you may be thinking, “I didn’t join a Catholic singles website to meet another woman!” But my way of thinking is you never know who that person can connect you to…God brings different people into our lives for reasons He alone knows.
Never did I imagine that the itty-bitty website SRN would blossom into CatholicMatch.com (or CM)! The website has not only gotten bigger but better. I appreciate the marked improvements in its layout and presentation. The recent additions of the blog and chat rooms have made a major difference. Folks who are shy about posting are more open to chatting in the chat rooms. I know they are popular – at times it’s really hard to get into one. But the wait is worth it. Once you are in there, it can be so much fun. You get to know people on a whole different level, engaging in discussions that range from off the wall to serious.
A turning point
Although I’ve been on the site for a very long time, I haven’t been on too many dates. That doesn’t mean I haven’t met many people. It all started with LOVEFEST in New York, which was organized by Beverly and Harry and a few other folks. They are now married, so the title of the event proved apt. It marked the first CM get-together, bringing folks from throughout the States and even two members from Europe. It was held at the Roosevelt Hotel and it was a fantastic weekend.
Looking back, I see that’s when things started taking off for me. I guess I came out of my shell a bit and then started attending local events. We even had a small group of local New York, New Jersey and Connecticut members become friends and we’d meet for monthly Mass and brunches, movies and museum outings.
LOVEFEST started the weekend get-togethers and they have surged since. I’ve been to CM Boston (twice), CM Chicago (twice), CM New Orleans and my very own CM New York 2007. Although it was nerve wracking putting together an event of that magnitude, it was a great pleasure, helping me step out of my comfort zone. Rumor has it folks had a great time!
So as I’ve told many folks, CM isn’t just about meeting people of the opposite sex but an opportunity to meet different types of folks and a great place to establish friendships as well as grow in faith. I know it’s worked for me!
Hope, not envy
We’ve all read the success stories and have seen the forum announcements in of folks who have met after being on the site for what appears to be a minute. OK, I might be exaggerating slightly.
At times, the little green monster rears its ugly little head. It’s hard to avoid: I’ve been here since the dawn of time and haven’t had a success story of my own, but I don’t give up, and I haven’t given up.
Recently I thought I had come close after having met a wonderful man at an event. Sadly, things didn’t work out, but it doesn’t mean that all is lost. I’m a faithful woman and know that things happen for a reason.
I often tease that I am here to stay and I will be the one to turn off the lights, but I do cherish the thought of having my own success story. I know it would encourage new members or members who have been here almost as long as I have. (Are there any left?) I am heartened by a recent trend of longtime CMers getting engaged or married, so I’m figuring my time is coming. If they’ve been here this long, having also suffered disappointments and discouragement but ultimately having met their mates sent from God, that could be me too.
My journey here has been a good one overall. I’ve been encouraged and have grown in faith just listening to the advice of my fellow chicas in St. Ann’s, praying along with others the 54-Day Rosary Novena for our different intentions and going to Mass with fellow CMers.
To me CM is a big happy family. Like any big family, there will be arguments and tiffs, but there is also joy, support and understanding. We have our share of clowns, smart alecks and those that just love to stir it up, but when it comes down to it, we are here for one another and that’s what has kept me on all these years.
Some may wonder, “Why does she bother?” Heck, why not? Where else can I chat with someone in the middle of the night about my favorite saint or movie? Where else can I receive countless birthday wishes from people I don’t know!
CM is like a favorite café – just pull up a chair, a cup of coffee and just people watch (or in this case, read the forums or send out emotigrams). Where else can you get invited to the weddings of fellow CMers you’ve barely met who genuinely want to share that special day with you?
I’ll never forget the time I drove to Owings Mill, Md., for the wedding of two CMers. She and I became fast friends on the site and we started chatting online daily via instant messenger.
We were supposed to have met in New York City on 9/11 while she was in town for a conference, so instead I got to meet her at her rehearsal dinner. It was hysterical: I was walking up the path to her mother’s house when the door burst open and she hurled herself at me screaming, “You look just like your picture!”
Another time I was waiting in the foyer of a church prior to a Mass and brunch when another CMer yelled out, “Hey, you’re Jacqueline 198!” I felt like a rock star!
So here I am, 11 years later, hanging out with the chicas in St. Ann’s, quipping with the regulars in the chat room and enjoying the ride…I’m here to stay!