When you read through the success stories of CatholicMatch, you find countless couples who seem to be more than just good matches—they seem to be truly meant for each other. Perhaps nowhere has that been the case more powerfully than with Emily and Park, a couple from Fairfield, Ohio.
Both had gone through excruciatingly tough marriages prior to meeting each other, albeit for very different reasons. Park’s was marked by tragedy. His wife had cancer and went through 10 long years of chemotherapy and radiation every step of the way, passing away in his arms. Emily suffered through a marriage to a husband, who had what can be delicately called “issues.”
Neither could have been faulted for just moving on with a single life. Forty one year old Emily had two boys, currently aged 11 & 8, to raise and her early ventures back into the dating world had produced conflict.
“I was dating guys who were Christian, but not Catholic,” she said. In one case, a man she was interested in said she could attend the local non-denominational “mega-church” with him, replete with its rock bands and cookies and cake afterward, but under no circumstances would he go to Mass with her. Another was even more blunt—if they were to continue dating, Emily would need to leave the Catholic Church.
“I was proud of who I was,” Emily told CatholicMatch. She went on a singles retreat to help sort things out and did an exercise called “The Labyrinth” to help sort things out. As she explained it, you walk through the labyrinth and when you’re at the center you tell God your problem. On the way out you figure out a solution. When Emily emerged from The Labyrinth a decision was made—“I will only date Catholic men.”
Emily felt CatholicMatch, with its seven faith questions helped get her off on the right start. 50-year-old Park liked the site for its structure. “The openness of the program—from the chat rooms to being able to contact anyone was nice,” he said. “We were able to start forging a friendship.”
Family was at the heart of a friendship that was becoming much more. “I believe when you marry someone you marry the family too,” Park told CatholicMatch, invoking his Italian heritage and its proud embrace of La Famiglia. As for Emily’s boys, they loved Mom’s new boyfriend and at one point where jumping up and down on her bed with the call to “Marry Park! Marry Park!”
For Park, the opportunity to embrace children of his own was a dream come true, one the tragic circumstances of his first marriage had denied him and his late spouse. For Emily, her boys needed a father figure and here was someone almost ready-made, ready to step in. “I still can’t believe I’m a stepdad,” Park said. The simple joys of parenting are ones he doesn’t take for granted, from videotaping a school performance to making lunches.
Their engagement didn’t end the challenges. Park works as a bio-medical engineer and had planned to move by Emily when he found a job, which would presumably be around the wedding. That he found a job even quicker was surely good fortune, but it presented a logistical issue. He needed to move in right away and they weren’t going to sleep in the same bed. He took one of the boys’ rooms and Emily’s eight-year old son stayed with her. He also left behind five weeks of vacation time which meant that the honeymoon they took lasted precisely one day.
Emily sees it as more evidence of her new husband’s willingness to do whatever it takes for his family. They were able to get the wedding date moved up to last Saturday, December 17 and restore normal living arrangements in the house and now they are underway with their lives together. Emily and Park both suffered a lot, but both worked through it and found each other. They’re a perfect match and this Christmas will be an extra special one in Cincinnati.