Zach & Sonia Had A Long-Distance Relationship Worth Working For


It had been a year since Sonia put aside her deep reservations about online dating and joined CatholicMatch. She came across Zach’s profile, and while there was geographic distance between them—he was in Birmingham, while she was over 250 miles away in Knoxville—there was spiritual compatibility. And there was an up-front quality both of them had that enabled the relationship to get started.

Zach saw in his encounters that Sonia had viewed his profile, and rather than engage in the perpetual dance of trading profile views—he immediately reached out and wrote Sonja a message. She had already enjoyed the often-quirky profile descriptions he had of himself and hit him with a blunt comment back in return.

“I think you win the game of ‘who-has-the-most-pictures-in-their-Catholic-match profile?’”, she wrote. They each found the other’s straightforwardness refreshing, and from there they were drawn into discussions of both faith and culture, where they found themselves walking the same path.

Sonia’s commitment to her faith was the only reason she put aside her doubts regarding online dating and joined CatholicMatch. Zach’s own dedication to Christ was such that he had seriously discerned the priesthood before pursuing the vocation of marriage.

Zach's faith, compassion and empathy put him a cut above anyone Sonja had dated before.

Zach’s faith, compassion and empathy put him a cut above anyone Sonja had dated before.

They also found plenty to talk about. If it wasn’t Catholicism, it could be Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. If it wasn’t deep works of literature, it was Star Trek or Buffy The Vampire Slayer or “testing each other with geeky trivia”, as Sonia put it. There was an exquisite balance woven into all that Zach and Sonia shared in common.

Zach and Sonia spent a month communicating online before deciding to meet in person. Sonia worked retail, which makes scheduling weekends difficult, but Zach took the burden of making the drive to and from Knoxville so they could continue to get to know each other.

“Zach blew everyone away,” Sonia said. The challenges the couple faced in building a long-distance relationship were real, but today they feel that one part of their journey together was listening to God and overcoming those challenges together.

The methods of building their relationship were often creative. In addition to the instant electronic communication of the modern world, Zach reached into the past and wrote Sonia handwritten letters on antique paper with his family crest, even sealing it with a wax seal. Or he might sing a song on her voice mail, altering the names in a love song to make it about him and Sonia.

Sonia saw that Zach was like no other man she’d ever met. She felt as though what was taking place was beyond her comprehension, and described her first trip to Birmingham to meet his family as “surreal.” She would go on to describe Zach as “an extremely loving person. The most giving and empathetic person I have ever met…the efforts and sacrifices he made to keep our long-distance relationship strong…continued to amaze me.”

Sonia and Zach were married a little over two years ago in a ceremony and reception marked by their faith and creativity.

Sonia and Zach were married a little over two years ago in a ceremony and reception marked by their faith and creativity.

The couple had been discussing their future together, when Zach made another trip to Knoxville in December 2010. He, Sonia and her parents came back from a parish reception following a Mass celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Zach, having already spoken to her parents, asked Sonia for her hand in marriage and she said yes.

Zach and Sonia were married in June 2011 in her hometown of Knoxville, Tenn. Their creativity would shine through the wedding and the reception. The ceremony itself—approved by the marriage priest—was a mix of contemporary and traditional, and they made their exit as husband and wife to the “Throne Room” theme of the original Star Wars. And the tribute on the wedding cake was written in a Tolkien-ish scrip..and marked with the same seal design that Zach had used to send his letters to Sonia.

They have now been married for two years, hoping to start a family and see what the next adventure they have together will be. They know they will share it together and find inspiration in a quote from Dr. Seuss that was on their wedding invitation…

“We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.”


Did you or someone you know find love on CatholicMatch? We would love to share your story with other members. Even if you aren’t engaged or married, but met someone on CatholicMatch we would like to hear your story. Go to our member story page for more information.



  1. Dan-119032 August 1, 2013 Reply

    Regarding Elizabeth’s comments, readers can be assured that Sonja and Zach’s relationship was and is on a strong foundation of faith. They were kind enough to share their experience in the hopes that it might inspire others. It sounds like Elizabeth had a terrible experience, and one we certainly hope she never endures again, but it would be a mistake to project that onto Zach and Sonja.

  2. Lori-663130 August 1, 2013 Reply

    What a beautiful story. Congratulations to you both! I pray we can all experience the same in our lives. God has a plan for each one of us 🙂

  3. Elizabeth-980074 July 30, 2013 Reply

    This story does not tell how long it was that she was alone between relationships. Being alone and happy is the only way to start a new relationship. It takes time and inner confidence and alot of prayer to be happy living alone in a world that tells us “we must be connected to someone or we are not normal”! If she let go of the old relationship only to run to the new one too soon- that may be a recipe for disaster. I did that myself. I was forced to let go of a relationship, was not fully healed or OK by myself, then met a man also on the rebound. We dated for a year then married in the church. My marriage did not last, even though we were married in the Catholic church 22 years and went to mass every week- what first seemed like “true love” was just physical attraction, compatibility and fullfilled need for companionship. The true test of love for Sonya will be time, love and continued respect from her husband. My former husband went to great lengths to be sweet before we married…but drastically changed shortly after we married. I stayed in an extremely abusive marriage for the sake of our son, and in the end, it was my cold and hearltess husband who filed for divorce and got custody of our only son because of his connection to the court..
    I have been in what initially seemed like a eutopian relationship but I have also seen that same relationship crumble because I jumped in too soon.
    I have been in court for 6 years to get my son back but in 2 years he will be 18. I paid the cost of my lonliness and anxiousness to get married too soon by loosing my son to a man I never really knew.
    I hope and pray Sonja did not say “yes” too soon…you cannot always judge a book by the cover- Catholic or not.
    My experience may be extreme, but if this blog can prevent someone else from going through what I did by waiting until you are OK with yourself and happy even though you are alone, then I will be glad I told my story.

  4. Melay-986569 July 29, 2013 Reply

    It is indeed a very inspiring love gives hope to people who hadgone through failed relationships.i could never imagine things like this is still possible nowadays.i had an unsuccessful marriage and since then i stopped dreaming and never entertained thinking that i would find love ever again but upon reading this it made realized that maybe someday i get to meet mr.right also somehow in gods will!

  5. Lois-880877 July 28, 2013 Reply

    I wish I could say I have even gotten one date from Catholic match but I haven’t. I have corresponded with one fellow but it is pure friendship. I miss going to Mass with my significant other.
    I am starting a new life as a student in a new town and wish I had someone nearby that cared about me and I cared about him. I will be moving to Everett, WA.

  6. Alma-953915 July 27, 2013 Reply

    I definitely feel like I’ve been in Sonja’s shoes. I’ve often wondered if I’ll ever meet someone on here who will have the same humor, share the same interests, and the same Catholic faith. So far, I haven’t met anyone yet that has topped all the men I’ve dated in the past. Sometimes it feels downright impossible, but who knows? I’m happy that she’s met the right one. It gives me hope.

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