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3/17/2014 8:02:00 AM
After dating, Catholics find match made in Heaven
Catholic Sentinel photo
Jill and Jeremy Wenger embrace.
Catholic Sentinel photo
Jill and Jeremy Wenger embrace.
Catholic News Service photoPatrizia Piredda, Nicola Medas get engaged in front of St. Peter Basilica.

Catholic News Service photo
Patrizia Piredda, Nicola Medas get engaged in front of St. Peter Basilica.

Churches can help matchmaking
By Christine Whelan

There’s no formula for love. But there are certainly things we can do to improve our chances of meeting our match — and many ways that churches can help.

Only 20 percent of respondents from a BustedHalo.com dating poll said their church offered singles’ events or other dating outlets for young adults. There is a need — and a desire — for more cool, young-adult events: 88 percent of respondents said they would want individual churches to do more to introduce Catholic singles. Here are a few of their suggestions:

Young Adult Groups

Where possible, churches should form a young adult group — not necessarily a singles group, but a social and spiritual support group for people in their 20s and 30s. Churches could offer weekly dinners, book discussions, trips to hockey games, dances and concerts. 

Vocational Classes or Continued Catholic Study for Young Adults.
It’s in your 20s that you start to question your faith and come to it as an adult. Vocational classes—to help young adults discern if they are being called to marriage, single or religious life—would be a safe way to talk about some of the deepest “what next” questions that we have in and after college. 

Ecumenical discussions of faith

You know how much fun it is to sit around a dinner table with your friends and debate big life topics? Well, the Church could make a forum for those discussions more frequently. One problem is that a lot of people don’t think it’s “cool” to be religious (or to talk about it). But once you get them to open up, most people have many questions and are willing to engage with the topic. By encouraging discussions about young adults of all faiths, the Church could help make it OK to talk about faith. 

Taking it online

God helps those who help themselves. So as we’re encouraging our priests and lay ministers to help create young-adult events at church, many Catholics have explored religious online dating sites. 

One-third of respondents said they have used a religiously based online dating site, and although several readers complained that the websites were geared toward the orthodox members of the Church rather than the mainstream American Catholics, the sites received generally good reviews.

CatholicMatch received the best reviews. “My boyfriend and I have successfully been dating for two years,” said one woman who had used CatholicMatch. While she said she did meet a few “frogs” first, she feels “truly blessed to have met the man of my dreams, even if it was accomplished by using an online dating service.”

Originally published on BustedHalo.com

Clarice Keating
Of the Catholic Sentinel

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 CatholicMatch.com. 

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 CatholicMatch.com, 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 CathlicMatch.com 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.

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