In 1920s Germany, a 43-year-old civil servant named Joseph
took out an ad in a local Catholic paper with the intent of
finding a wife. Maria Peintner, a 36-year-old cook,
responded, and the two were married four months later. In all
likelihood, had Joseph and Maria Ratzinger, the parents of
Pope Benedict XVI, met today, it might have been through the
modern version of a personal ad: online dating.
According to a study by University of Chicago psychologist
John Cacioppo, between 2005 and 2012, online dating was the
single most popular way people met their spouses, more than
through work, friends and school combined.
In sharp contrast to "hook-up" oriented apps such as Tinder,
Catholic dating sites serve as a way for marriage-minded
Catholics to find one another. "As a woman, I wanted to be
romanced by someone who was going to respect my faith and
hopefully share it," said past CatholicMatch user Kara
'Love at first chat'
Alexandria was studying in her university library when she
decided to create a profile on CatholicMatch.com. She
was about to graduate college, had a nursing job lined up and
felt little external pressure to date, but still she signed
on. "It was so random how God worked," she said.
"I just always knew I wanted to get married, but there was
almost an emptiness in my college relationships," she said.
"I just realized that faith was the most important thing in
my life and I wondered, 'How do I find a man who agrees with
Miles away, Nick DeRose was about to leave CatholicMatch.
After six months he had little success, until Alexandria
messaged him. They quickly set up a time to talk through the
"We both say it was love at first chat," said Alexandria.
"Right away we were talking about the faith. Even before we
were dating officially, Nick would always tell me he was
praying for me. All of these things I had never experienced
in a relationship before, and I just knew that was what I was
looking for," she said.
Love through Michigan winters
Kara joined a number of Catholic dating sites before meeting
Steven Cardella. "I knew I wanted 10 kids and I was getting
antsy," she said. But when Steven first flew to see her, Kara
found herself clamming up. After an uncomfortable meeting
with a past date, she was worried this one wouldn't work out
As they prayed in Mass, Steven braced himself for rejection.
Kara, however, said she imagined God whispering in her ear:
"The point of Christian marriage is to get your spouse to
heaven, and here is a Catholic man who loves me already."
After Mass, she felt completely at ease, and they officially
began to date.
After several months, Steven found a job near Kara in Ann
Arbor, Mich., and left his hometown of New Orleans. "It's a
decision he regrets every winter," said Kara.
"That's true love," said Steven. They now have a 3-year-old
son, a baby due in two months, and a few already in heaven,
A prayerful connection
Mary Rebecca Pugsley, a campus minister at Virginia
Commonwealth University, joined the site after breaking up
with someone who was less than enthusiastic about the faith.
"I decided to join to meet some guys who were actually
excited about being Catholic," she said. Her now-husband,
Andrew Pugsley, was looking for a Christ-centered
relationship too. After friends talked him into online
dating, "It was Catholic Match or bust," he said.
For their first date they met for Mass in Richmond. Months
later, he proposed to her on the feast of the Immaculate
Conception at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Richmond.
During their engagement they picked special novenas to pray
together to keep the focus on the marriage ahead and not just
"Every step of the way, we were praying together," said Mary
Though Catholic online dating is a way many couples find
their spouses, Mary Rebecca believes the first connection has
to be prayer.
"Seek God first and let (Catholic Match) be a vehicle," she
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