Gene was looking for a spouse, but the 34-year-old from South Carolina was skeptical about the whole online dating thing. He believed if God wanted him to be married that He would put someone in Gene’s path through the local parish. Gene was staying active, going to Bible studies and other parish activities, not with the explicit intent of meeting someone, but hoping that process would result in the right woman for him. The same roadblock kept coming up—“…a single, practicing Catholic in the south is not easy to find.” He decided to give CatholicMatch try in 2009.
Sally had similar nervousness about joining CatholicMatch, but a strong recommendation from a friend had led her to the site at the end of 2008. She got involved in the forums, and a group mostly Massachusetts women like herself had formed a little group of forum friends called “MaryEllen’s Pub.” It was a place in the forums, in the mold of the great Boston-based TV sitcom Cheers (1982-93), “where everybody knew your name.”
It was MaryEllen’s Pub that provided the framework for 40-year-old Sally to connect with Gene. “Every time I saw Gene in The Pub, I became nervous and felt the butterflies in my stomach. I thought it was crazy…I didn’t know him outside of a profile…plus he was younger than me. Little did I know that God had something very special in store?”
That “something special” came in the form of an online chat request from Gene and a simple message wishing her God’s blessing. It was the start of a long-distance relationship.
The “LDR” wasn’t without its challenges. It started with what Sally described as the realignment of their wills to His will—both her and Gene had envisioned dating someone in their local area. They worked on the openness of being willing to relocate. Most importantly, they worked on honest communication, laying the foundation of friendship and working to help the other understand their daily lives.
“Ladies, be open to that courtship!” Sally urged. “God will easily put all of the pieces in place and provide for you.”
By this past March things had progressed to the point where Gene was prepared to take the next step. Sally had flown to South Carolina, and Gene hoped to propose to her at a nearby rose garden at sunset. Once again, he had to align himself to God’s will, as a work-related meeting kept him late.
Instead, after dinner, he took her back to where she was staying. Before she could get out of the car though, he asked her to wait. “I then proceeded to share my heart with my beloved … how the past nine months have been wonderful, how my heart was full of love for her… and how beautiful she looked.”
Gene then revealed the ring and asked Sally to marry him. With her hand over her mouth as she looked at the ring, she said yes. A journey that started at “Hello” in the Pub where everyone knows your name, ended at the wedding altar.