Stephen wanted to get married and settle down, but the 26-year-old from northern Indiana was having trouble meeting the right kind of person. The same was true for 24-year-old Gabrielle from Tennessee. They were Catholics who deeply loved the Church’s tradition, particularly the Latin Mass and came to CatholicMatch looking for a spouse to share that love with.
“(We) were passionate about our Catholic faith and wanting family and children,” Stephen said. “But being able to have a good intellectual conversation and being physically attracted to the other person was important as well.”
Both come from large families, with Stephen being the fifth of nine children and Gabrielle is the oldest of eight. It was their shared familial background that provided the basis for their first CatholicMatch encounter.
“She sent an emotigram and commented on the size of my family based on a picture I posted,” Stephen recalled. The emote opened the door and led the way to almost three months of talking online, then another two months getting to know each other over the phone.
The couple was laying the groundwork for a courtship, a traditional concept embraced by Gabrielle’s parents. The term is often used as a synonym for a couple who is simply dating seriously, but courtship is actually a different process which brings the parents’ guidance more deeply into discerning process.
Perhaps no parent was more deeply involved in the discernment process than the Blessed Mother herself, and Stephen and Gabrielle both said a nightly prayer (shown below) seeking Our Lady’s intercession to make God’s will clearer.
The courtship process lasted a year and presented considerable challenges. The biggest was that two months after their first meeting, Gabrielle spent the spring semester in Europe. The couple made use of Skype, along with e-mail, to keep in touch, but it goes without saying that having to go 4.5 months without seeing each other wasn’t the easiest way to start a courtship.
In the end, the challenges served to bring them closer together and after a year, Stephen proposed. “It was kind of interesting,” he recalled. “My oldest brother got the ring because he knew the jeweler and friends had to get the chaperone distracted.” It all worked out, Stephen proposed and Gabrielle said yes.
The wedding will be this coming September. They’re currently both in school, with Stephen finishing a masters in neurobiology and Gabrielle getting her degree in architecture. The end of the spring semester will bring a conclusion to their academic endeavors and they look forward to building their lives together.
“The most difficult thing to find in a future spouse these days is someone who puts getting to heaven as their primary goal,” Stephen told CatholicMatch. He and Gabrielle found that kind of person in each other.
“Remember O most Blessed Mother that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored they help, or sought they intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, unworthy as I am of thy protection in the presence of God the Father, the author of life, of God the Son, who gave marriage the dignity of a sacrament, of God the Holy Ghost who sanctified marital love, I entrust my courtship to the motherly protection. Guide me in the choice of a partner, keep out courtship pure and chaste, watch over us from heaven, bless our union with a holy love, and send us grace to live in the favor of God and share in the the eternal love in which we shall be united forever in heaven.”