To this day, 19-year-old Maddie can’t recall why she was staying up so late on an evening just after last Thanksgiving break, when she had to get to classes the next morning. But she certainly remembers what happened and how it changed two lives decisively for the better.
Maddie logged onto CatholicMatch shortly after midnight. She had been on the site for a few months and it had been mostly disappointment. Still, she saw the profile for 23-year-old Josh—a profile, she would later find out had just been created hours earlier—and sent him an emotigram.
The initial emote from Maddie was a simple “thank you” to a young man who is serving his country in the Marines. After Josh emoted her back, he saw that she wrote him a follow-up message. He was intrigued enough to take out a full membership so he could correspond with her.
Maddie soon had her iPod with her around the house, typing away messages to Josh. The young Marine had her attention—“the truth is, I was messaging him back in my Literary Interpretations class, as I walked across campus, and as soon as I walked in the door at home. It was nice conversation and it was nice to have someone listen and understand.” Josh was the light in Maddie’s day, as she worked through the stress college students face during final exam time.
It was two weeks later that Maddie was on social media and CatholicMatch and feeling a little blue, thinking of how during the day she was always upbeat, but the nights were lonely and filled with wanting someone to talk to. She typed a message to Josh saying this…thought about erasing it…and then just hit send.
Her message landed on an open heart in Josh. He shared his belief that maybe his coming onto CatholicMatch—something he hadn’t done with a lot of advance thought—had been done precisely so they could meet.
“Who knows if I could knock you off your feet,” he wrote to Maddie in a message she still keeps. “But would it be in the wrong after only knowing each other such a short time to see if maybe we had something together.”
No, it wouldn’t be in the wrong at all.
Josh and Maddie made arrangements to meet in mid-December. Her parents escorted her to the meeting place, her eyes fleeting to the clock, anxiously awaiting their designated meet time.
Ironically, it was Maddie’s father, having never seen a picture of Josh, who picked him out of the crowd. “It was the military walk,” he later told his daughter. On the rainy late afternoon in Michigan, Maddie grabbed her umbrella and sloshed through the water to meet Josh in person for the first time.
The young couple had an enjoyable first date, although Maddie admits to awkwardness and uncertainty about where things might be going. They decided to meet again a week later, at the religious shrine of Nazareth, where a friend of Maddie’s family, Sister Maxine was.
“We took a walk down to the history room, into the chapel…to the holy stairs..through relic room,” she recalled.
Maddie would later term it the “first real date” and it was the visit to the chapel that left the most profound impression on her. She watched Josh genuflect and noted his reverence. “I closed my eyes in an attempt not to blubber all over myself,” she admitted. “That was when I knew he was it, and that I had started to love him.”
The feelings of love were one thing, and the words themselves came a little more than a month later. Josh signed off on a text with a casual “Bye, love you,” and Maddie later said her legs almost gave out and she threw her phone in shock.
Over the course of the next eight months, the young couple navigated the two-plus hour distance that separated them, and deepened their relationship. It was about three weeks ago that Josh was talking about how Friday would be a “big day,” with the reason being that he got to see Maddie.
While she hoped there might be bigger reasons that he wasn’t ready to yet disclose, she had also anticipated a marriage proposal three weeks earlier, when they were back at the chapel in Nazareth, and been deeply disappointing when it didn’t happen.
Now they were at a different chapel. As they began to pray, Josh began to say he had something to ask, with his hand going to his back pocket.
“I thought I was going to have a heart attack or my skin was going to melt off or something,” Maddie told CatholicMatch. This time, the question indeed came.
Maddie crashed her face to his, “hands shaking and heart singing,” as she later described it. The ring itself wasn’t on her mind, but just how much Josh loved her was, right down to choosing prayer at the Tabernacle for his proposal. There was just one thing Maddie forgot—to answer the question, which Josh reminded her of, and got his “yes.”
“I never thought that I would find my soul mate on CatholicMatch, and I never thought I’d fall in love in a chapel or be proposed to at a Tabernacle,” Maddie said. But I am so thankful…that I found Josh and that God placed him in my life…the future is bright and God is good.”
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