Catholic Sentinel photo
Jill and Jeremy Wenger embrace.
Catholic Sentinel photo
Jill and Jeremy Wenger embrace.

SALEM — For a long time, Jill thought the ideal Catholic guy she was seeking just didn’t exist. She thought she would have to settle for less or accept staying single. 

Then she met Jeremy. 

“I was reassured that God had someone waiting for me all along and I just needed to be patient and trust in him,” Jill said. “With Jeremy I knew I could be myself completely around him, and he would be someone who would not only share my Catholic faith, but challenge me to grow deeper in it.” 

Before one year of dating, Jeremy and Jill Wenger were engaged. Today they are married, expecting their second child. Jill is the youth ministry coordinator at St. Paul Parish in Silverton and the couple attend Mass at St. Joseph Parish in Salem. 

The two first met at a Catholic Young Adult Retreat in 2009. Or, at least, that’s when Jeremy noticed Jill. Jill didn’t remember the introduction, but she certainly noticed his profile on the website 

He was handsome and she discovered that they shared interests and a common outlook on faith, so sent him a note, inviting him to a young adult praise and worship night.  

Soon, they were dating. They went out to eat, hiked, watched sports, and explored Portland together. Jeremy took Jill on her first four-wheeling adventure. 

“The more time I spent with Jeremy, the more I realized, while he was human and had his flaws, like we all do, when it came to all the important things and qualities I was looking for in a husband, he was it,” Jill said.  “I felt my heart echoing Genesis, ‘At last, bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.’” 

By meeting on, Jeremy said, they both had a pretty good idea how the other person viewed the Church’s teachings on marriage. 

To help discern their compatibility, the couple spent time together answering the questions presented in 101 Questions to Ask Before You Get Engaged by Norman Wright. By the time Jeremy popped the question, they were both certain that they had found “the one.” 

But, that search took some time. Jeremy had a profile on for two years before he found Jill. Jill’s profile was up for two weeks. The point? You never know how long it will take to find your match made in heaven. 

Here, Jill and Jeremy share a bit of dating advice, based on their own experiences:  

Jeremy: Seek communion with the Lord first and foremost; He is our ultimate fulfillment.  Make time for prayer and daily Mass if possible. Pray for your future spouse, but be open to another vocation.  Before I met Jill, I went on a pilgrimage to Greece and Turkey with four seminarians from Rome for 3 weeks.  I figured that if God wanted to lead me into the priesthood that was the time to do it so I tried to be open. After coming home and reflecting on the trip, it became more confirmed in my heart that the priesthood was not my calling.  

My former youth minister Carolyn Rich was a great example; she would remind me that we have to give God opportunities. Sometimes we just need to make a decision or walk down a path even if we’re unsure and let God confirm or reject those decisions.  

Also know that the perfect man or perfect woman doesn’t exist on this earth. The only two sinless people are in heaven so understand that anyone that you enter into a relationship with will have faults. It’s just a matter of discerning whether or not those faults are show-stoppers. The key thing is to find someone who can help to sanctify you and lead you to Heaven. 

Jill: I second what Jeremy says. It all starts with your personal relationship with God.  You can’t give yourself to another until you have allowed God to completely have your heart. Before I met Jeremy, I felt like I just needed to be single for a while and work on my prayer life and trust God with my future.  

I had started a 54-day rosary novena with some college friends, and my personal prayer during that novena was to be at peace with my vocation, no matter what it may be. I truly felt through prayer that I was at peace with wherever God was calling me. When I was not expecting it at all, I met Jeremy. 

It’s also important to surround yourself with people who will help you to grow in your faith and challenge you toward holiness. Attend events where you can meet other Catholics and build solid friendships. You never know who might be sitting next to you… even if you don’t remember them the first time.