However, Mark’s original proposal plan did fit their relationship. Patty, who calls herself a “closet geek,” says the couple spend a lot of their date nights sipping on icees and watching Sci-Fi and action movies in IMAX or 3D. “His mother still doesn’t believe I enjoy going to these types of movies,” laughs Patty.
Mark liked Patty’s New Orleans Saints t-shirt
Mark, who had never been married, joined online dating at the insistence of a friend. “I thought it was a bit creepy,” admits Mark, but he decided to give it a try and chose CatholicMatch because it seemed like the safer option.
Patty, then 50, who has an annulled previous marriage and three grown children, says she didn’t want to date men she already knew after her divorce, so she turned to online dating. “First, I joined “Our Time.” That was too much. I refer to it as: Tinder for 75-year-old men on Viagra. That lasted less than 48 hours, and I knew that I wanted a man who shared my same spiritual beliefs.” Patty turned to her diocese website and found a link to CatholicMatch.
When Mark came across Patty’s profile over a year after he joined CatholicMatch, he was instantly attracted to the woman he saw on the screen. “She was so beautiful, and it looked like she was having fun in her profile pic. She was also wearing a Saints shirt at a football game, which is a really big plus.”
Mark had Patty from his first message. “Mark messaged me asking how I thought the Saints were going to do this year. Bing! I am a football fanatic, so we emailed each other daily until he asked me to lunch.”
Patty also appreciated his profile picture. “For me, I loved that a man over 50 had this incredible, black, curly hair and his baby blue eyes.” However, after reading his profile, Patty was also struck by the fact that Mark, who is a Curator and Oral Historian at the Historic New Orleans Collection, was highly educated and interesting.
They talked for three hours straight
But the date went so well that Mark didn’t have a chance to hit up the Apple Store. “I thought she was even more beautiful in person, and we talked for three hours! Not something that is very common for me,” adds Mark.
“After three hours, we finally got the hint the manager wanted us to give up the table,” laughs Patty.
Mark recalls that after the date, he was so distracted by thinking about the date that he couldn’t find his car. “I was wandering all over the parking garage, and I caught her eyes as she was driving out. I was so embarrassed.”
Coming back to the Church
When they started dating, both Mark and Patty had experienced a return to full communion with the Catholic Church.
Mark was baptized Catholic, and his parents are devout in their faith, but he says it’s only in recent years that he has felt drawn to the theology of the Church. “Faith for me has always been an emotional thing—tied to memories of family, feelings of compassion, and empathy,” says Mark.
“I have always loved the Rosary because it gives me a clarity of thought, and I have loved Mass for that same reason. But now I think about the wisdom behind the Church's teachings.”
Mark came to this realization after interviewing several people for NOLA Life Stories, including Archbishop Hughes. “I have had the opportunity to listen and record the life stories of others, and I have been drawn to those who can share the wisdom embedded in our faith as the result of thousands of years of human experience,” says Mark.
When Patty met Mark, she had gone through the difficult annulment process. “I felt like a failure in my past marriage. But through confession, I realized I never truly let the Holy Spirit or God take control of my past marriage,” shares Patty. “There were many painful issues in the marriage, but God knew I loved being a wife and mother and he gave me a “do over." If we all could have the maturity that you gain when you are older and wiser when you marry at a young age…”
Mark helped Patty relax during a stressful time
“I have been in a very intense legal battle with my ex-husband for over five years over several businesses and investments that we both own, but I manage,” shares Patty. “My life is much more stressful than Mark's, but he has helped me learn to relax and love life again.”
Mark helps Patty relax by doing “silly things” together. “We watch movies, dress up in funny costumes, and eat Chinese food for Mardi Gras.” The couple also enjoys cooking themed dinner for each other.
Mark jokingly adds that when they started dating, he was concerned about the safety of his cat. “She has a giant German Shepherd, and at first, I was worried about my cat, but now I feel bad for the dog.”
The real proposal was not Godzilla-themed
On Patty’s birthday in October 2014, Mark cooked dinner, put on a suit, and lit dozens of candles throughout his house. “I walked in his home, and there he was with two glasses of sparkling cider poured. He opened a ring box and told me, ‘I really really love you. Will you spend the rest of your life as my wife?’”
Mark admits that he was so nervous that he wasn’t able to wait. “I just blurted it out as soon as she walked in the door, so she didn't have a chance to soak in the romance.”
“It was a sweet moment, and I love that it was private and not in public,” adds Patty.
A very Irish wedding
After a difficult time trying to get all of their families together for the wedding, they finally set the date for St. Patrick’s Day 2016.
The couple was married at St. Stephen’s parish in Mark’s neighborhood of New Orleans. “We both have a strong Irish Heritage, and we decided on a very small wedding with many Gaelic Customs (but no green beer),” shares Patty. Their wedding included a green cake covered by green shamrocks on the outside.
Mark’s mother also made the wedding day even more meaningful for them. “My mother, who has some health problems, was able to make it down from Ohio. I was so happy she could be there with us. She gave us each a rosary, which I will always cherish. She always told me that her faith was the most important gift that she could give to us,” says Mark.
In the months after their wedding, the couple says marriage has been blissful. “Both of us are 52, but we’re in love like two young teens. We know how much of a blessing at our age it was that God brought us together,” says Patty.