As a faithful Catholic parent, have you ever found yourself secretly "matching up" your children with the children of other faithful Catholic friends? Perhaps you've jokingly promised one of your infants to the infant of a dear Catholic friend who laughed with you and happily agreed to the "betrothal"? If you are like me, you secretly (or not so secretly) have scouted out future spouses for your children, hoping for the perfect in-laws, dreaming that your beloved offspring would have the best possible chance for Holy Matrimony lived out as Christ and His Church envisions.
Well, I've taken it all a step further, as the frustrated Yenta in me has finally burst forth into the public sphere in the form of Catholic Moms Matchmaking.
The idea for this apostolate is simple, and it grew naturally over some time. A few years ago, I started to notice an epidemic of unhappy marriages and the ripple effect that spread a couple's misery to children, extended family, and even friends. It then occurred to me that many parents are working hard to ensure their children's academic and career success, but few are sweating and sacrificing to ensure that their children are marriageable. This is a grave cultural mistake. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that the single biggest factor in one's happiness is the state of one's marriage. And a happy marriage cannot be realized unless a parent teaches a child, by word and example, how to be a good husband or wife. We expect our children to find a spouse of worthy character, but do we make sure that our own children are themselves a "catch"?
During this time, I also started to learn more about the Church's beautiful teachings on marriage, specifically John Paul II's earth-shattering writings on human sexuality known as the Theology of the Body. I began to hope and pray for a way to give my children a chance at God's ideal, knowing this could only be attained by their finding a spouse with a shared vision of what marriage should be. It seemed pretty clear: For those of my children not called to a religious vocation, it would be imperative that they find a devout and believing Catholic with whom to enter into the Sacrament of Matrimony.
All these thoughts were ruminating around in my head for a couple of years, when one day I came upon an article in a secular magazine about happily married young couples who met their spouses via an introduction from Mom. It made perfect sense to me, as who knows a child better than a mother? And who can a child trust more than a parent? And why shouldn't the family have some influence on whom a child dates, in order to keep the child from marrying the wrong person out of infatuation, immaturity or confusion? The idea of Catholic moms playing matchmaker became an exciting thought.
I talked lightly to a few friends about my desire to set up a "database" for a future mixer for our children as they approached marrying age. Each time, the response was positive. I was actually shocked at the enthusiasm I encountered! Eventually, it occurred to me that the Internet afforded opportunities for Catholic matchmaking which did not involve large, expensive websites (after all, I had, no computer savvy, no time, and no money). What about an email group like the one my former homeschooling community uses to communicate among themselves? And it's free!
I quickly consulted with a dear Catholic friend across the country, Lisa Graas, who is a mother of four and a genius at computer…stuff. She had the technical expertise to set up my vision in the form of a one-page introductory webpage, with a one-button sign-up! It was exactly what I'd hoped for. After receiving a blessing from my parish priest, we launched…. quietly. I didn't tell more than one or two people to begin with. Slowly, slowly, I let the word out, sometimes only by putting the web address at the bottom of my emails, or by commenting on Catholic blogs and adding a link to our site. Lo and behold, people began to join!
We are a few months old now, and I have been fascinated at how the Lord has steered and shaped the group. Lisa and I fully expected that the majority of our members would be parents of adult Catholic singles — what we now refer to as "Level 1" members. However, it turns out that the vast majority of our members are parents of minors who are in this for the long haul. For us "Level 2" members, the fruit may come in five, ten, fifteen years or more. We see this as a long-term apostolate, and we are in no hurry.
So far, our email conversations have been lively and compelling. A recent discussion (prompted by a Catholic Exchange article) had members voicing their opinions on whether men and women should receive similar educations and the age one might enter into marriage. Members have also discussed our children, our thoughts on world demographics/fertility and our own experiences of marrying non-Catholic spouses. There is even a page for family photos to help us put faces to names. All of this is designed for the members to get to know each other as friends, and by extension, our children. Our Catholic orthodoxy makes us a "family" and is the foundation of the group.
Catholic Moms Matchmaking is open to anyone who supports our vision and our holy, Catholic Faith. However, our group is set to "private" and only members can see the posted messages and photos. To become a member, one must apply, be screened, and be accepted. Even then, the new member's messages may be moderated. We have only had to turn down one request for membership so far, due to lack of faithfulness to the Magisterium. The applicant actually removed herself from consideration when she realized with distress that we were not open to having young adults define their own Catholicism.
The only thing missing from our group? You! Please join us in building up the Culture of Life by building up holy marriages among our children. We'd be blessed to have you!