Joanne had mixed feelings about joining CatholicMatch. It wasn’t that the idea of online dating bothered her — in fact, she’d found her former husband through a dating site back in 1988. He passed away in 2004, and she wondered if she should be that active in seeking to marry again.
“Am I forcing it?” she wondered, feeling as though too persistent a search might be trying to force God’s will.
Her friends intervened and moved her toward actively seeking again. Joanne, in her late 50s, was one of the youngest members in a retirement community, and one of her friends saw an ad for CatholicMatch in the parish bulletin. Still another began going out with someone she met on CatholicMatch. Joanne decided to set up a profile.
John’s background was quite different.
“I lived in a Catholic monastery for 20 years,” he said.
As a non-vowed monk, it was determined that he was being called to live on the outside, so to speak. After being out of circulation for two decades, he was looking for ways to develop a social network. He originally joined a site aimed to general social activities and that started a path that led him to CatholicMatch.
Joanne’s search parameters were broad, covering age 49-66. That just covered John, who celebrated his 50th birthday shortly after joining. Both of them saw quick results in their time online. Joanne went out with someone her first two weekends. John was happy to receive a flurry of emotigrams.
Without a trace of ego and a good sense of humor, he recalled, “I was the hot new kid on the block.”
Ironically, his own search parameters would have narrowly missed Joanne, but she was able to find him.
He liked her profile immediately, finding her to be very devout, with a commitment to daily Mass and Adoration. After some correspondence, Joanne forthrightly asked John if he would like to get together sometime. It was a straightforward approach he appreciated, as neither one had any desire to find penpals — they were looking to meet people in the real world.
Her hometown was situated on his way to work, so they could conveniently meet for dinner. The eight-year age gap was no stumbling block, although John needed to adjust to the idea that Joanne was a grandmother. “I skipped a step,” he laughed, noting his jump from bachelor to grandfather overnight.
The first date, like most first dates, were “background checks,” as they just got to know the basics about each other. The next time out proved to be a real blast — literally. They went to the Shuttle launch at Cape Canaveral, spending 14 hours together between the drive across Florida and the time at the launch.
It wasn’t without its humor either.
On the way back, John feared he was about to run out of gas at a point when they were lost and he couldn’t see a gas station. He was convinced she would see it as the oldest ploy in the book.
A big turning point in their relationship came a month later. Joanne was going to be spending three weeks with her son and grandchildren. “John was ahead of me,” Joanne told CatholicMatch. “I felt compelled to tell him I’m not on the same page emotionally.” She assured John she did like him, but that she couldn’t guarantee she would be able to call and talk while she was gone, given the time and energy she spent on her grandchildren. By the third night she picked up the phone called him and they talked 2-3 hours a night for the rest of the trip.
And they both knew they would end up getting married.
John proposed to Joanne in her kitchen, an ironic venue, given that she doesn’t cook. “My favorite thing to make is reservations,” she said.
After six months of marriage prep they were married this February.
In looking back at their journey through CatholicMatch, both emphasized the importance of fidelity to Catholic teachings and hoped more members would embrace the fullness of the Catholic Church. And while the success story archives are marked with members who’ve found success in long-distance relationships, John felt it important to date within a radius that allowed regular face-to-face contact.
Joanne emphasized the single greatest lesson that is universal to all success stories: the importance of openness. Both feel the targeted audience of CatholicMatch is its greatest asset. “We’re living proof.”