Building Strong Catholic Marriages On-Line
By Lori Hadacek Chaplin
Catholics, young and old, are turning to online dating to find their spouses. CatholicMatch, the largest online Catholic dating site, has been successful in helping singles connect with like-minded individuals. Featured here are the success stories of several couples who met and made matches on CatholicMatch.
Three Matches Made
Three of Laura Pearl’s five sons married women they met on CatholicMatch.com.
In 2007, when their eldest son, Sean, 24, told them that he had joined an online dating site, Laura and her husband, Tim, had some misgivings. “It just seemed so odd to us—as members of a generation that still remembers making calls from rotary phones and writing handwritten letters—to use the Internet to find dates. Our first thoughts were along the lines of, ‘Any weirdo could be on there, lying about herself to snare our son!’ and, ‘Why would my smart, handsome young man need the Internet to fix him up on a date?’” Laura, who is from Dover, New Hampshire, told Catholic Digest.
But their son saw this as a way to meet young women who shared his faith and values. After the initial surprise, Laura and Tim found themselves impressed with CatholicMatch. They liked that members answered in their profile seven faith-related questions about what they believe about the Eucharist, contraception, sanctity of life, papal infallibility, premarital sex, the Immaculate Conception, and holy orders.
“There was a time in the world when two Catholic singles who met and wanted to start a relationship wouldn’t have to worry about answering those seven questions because all Catholics respected and abided by the teachings of the Church. Sadly, that is no longer the case,” Laura says.
There were plenty of opportunities for Laura’s sons—who are handsome, athletic types—to meet someone in college. However, “God had another plan for them—and that plan included meeting “seven out of sevens” on CatholicMatch,” she says.
Once Sean married in 2009, two of his younger brothers got on the CatholicMatch bandwagon, and they also found brides. The Pearl’s middle son, Mike, married in December 2013; their fourth son, Jim, married in February 2014. The youngest son, 21, hasn’t joined CatholicMatch yet, but his brothers have made online dating a viable option for him.
Into the real world
When Jessica Zimanske, 23, met George Weinberger, 26, on CatholicMatch, the two Minnesota residents quickly discovered that they had much in common. Both are graduates of St. Thomas, located in St. Paul, Minnesota, and they share the same values and family structure—as well as a love of the Minnesota Twins. The couple had been messaging back and forth for six weeks when Jessica began to wonder if their relationship was going to make it out of cyberspace into the real word.
Jessica had never considered online dating, but since she was blogging for CatholicMatch, she decided to join. “I dated in high school and college. After I graduated from college, I found myself in the career world without many dating opportunities. I wasn’t willing to date men from work or meet someone at a bar. There are only so many friends of friends,” she says.
In the first couple of weeks after joining CatholicMatch, in 2011, George, who was also new to the site, contacted Jessica.
“It turned out that we worked only a mile apart from each other in the western suburbs of the Twin Cities. Knowing that he was so close to me in proximity, I was impatient for him to ask me out. I wanted to see if our relationship was going to go somewhere,” says Jessica, who is a marketing professional and freelance writer.
She decided to take the lead and she suggested to George, who works as an accountant, that they meet casually. He readily agreed, and the couple hit it off right away.
A year and a half later, he was the one doing the asking with a marriage proposal. The couple never met or dated any other members from the site. “We’re some kind of a crazy success story,” she beams.
They plan to be married on October 4, 2014, at St. John the Baptist in New Brighton, Minnesota.
Love Late in Life
“I never thought love late in life would happen to me,” Frances Hoey, 78, told Catholic Digest. Frances had been a widow for over 12 years when she decided to join the online dating site, CatholicMatch. “I thought if it’s God’s will, I will meet someone.”
Not long after she joined CatholicMatch in September of 2013, Edward Dopler, 82, contacted her. For their first date, the couple agreed to meet for Mass at Frances’ parish, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Bradenton, Florida. Edward, who is retired from United States Air Force and the Pentagon, lives only an hour away in Riverview, Florida.
“You’re always a little skeptical because you’re meeting a stranger,” Frances says. “I was extremely, extremely nervous. I hadn’t dated since the 1960s!” Even so, Edward’s gentlemanly personality quickly set her at ease. After Mass, the couple spent the day together dining, walking on the beach, and conversing. Frances enjoyed listening to Edward, a widower, talk about himself. “He has a marvelous background, having traveled to six of the seven continents.”
She was drawn to his piousness and his devotion to the Rosary, which they regularly say together. Both of them are also active in their parishes.
Meeting for Sunday Mass and an all-day date became a regular occasion for the couple. Edward quickly made it clear that he was serious about Frances.
“He proposed to me when he picked me up at the airport after I’d been visiting my children in New Hampshire,” she remembers. Frances took a week to pray about the proposal before she said a wholehearted “yes!”
“I love to cook and bake, so now I have someone I can do these things for every day,” she says. Frances plans to wear her favorite color, purple, and a veil for her wedding, which is set for June 7, 2014.
CatholicMatch.com is a Catholic community of hundreds of thousands of singles looking to fulfill their marriage vocation with like-minded individuals. Originally called SaintRaphael.net, the online dating site was started as a fun side business in a Pittsburgh apartment in the late 90s. Eventually, Brian Barcaro, Jason LaFosse, and Mike Lloyd all quit their day jobs to devote their time to the growing business, which is also seen as a ministry.
In addition to CatholicMatch.com, the online dating site, there is also the newly developed CatholicMatch Institute, which aims to “build Catholic marriages through advocacy, resources, and scholarships.” Barcaro told Catholic Digest, “We’re trying to help people better understand the meaning of marriage and how to date in order to get to marriage.”
He goes on to say, “Hopefully, when they get to marriage prep, the information being presented isn’t new to them. Marriage prep should be a reinforcement—a polishing of what they already know.”
P.S. : A personal ad—the will of God?
In March of 1920, a policeman from Germany named Joseph Ratzinger Sr. put a lonely hearts ad in a Catholic publication, seeking a wife. Amusing and to the point, the ad reads:
“Middle ranking civil servant, single, Catholic, 43 years old, immaculate past, from the countryside, is seeking a good Catholic pure girl, who can cook well, and who can do all housework, who is also capable of sewing and a good homemaker in order to marry at the soonest opportunity. Personal fortune would be desirable but is not however a precondition. Offers, if possible with picture, to box number 734.”
No response came for the first ad, so in July of the same year, after being promoted in rank, he placed a similar ad, and a cook named Maria Peintner, 36, answered it. The two met at a coffee shop and a few days later became engaged. Less than six months later, they were married in November of 1920. They would eventually have three children, one of them whom they named Joseph who would grow up to be pope.
The couple kept the circumstances of their meeting a secret. It wasn’t until Sept 2006, through a discovery made by the former editor of the weekly Catholic newspaper, Aotoettinger Liebfrauen, that Pope Benedict XVI learned how his parents met.
According to the UK’s Daily Mail, “The German pope said he was ‘touched’ by the revelations about how his mother and father met. He said it reminded him of the words of the great evangelist theologian Albert Schweitzer, who said: ‘Coincidence is the pseudonym that dear God chooses when he wants to remain incognito.’”