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July 28, 2010
Catholic website celebrates decade of matchmaking
By Laura Kilgus, Catholic News Service
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (CNS)—Brian Barcaro, co-founder of Catholic Match, could be considered partly responsible for the nuptials of thousands who met their spouses through the dating website that got started in 1999.
He said the site—www.CatholicMatch.com—currently has 100,000 active users and nearly half a million singles have used it over the past decade. These figures alone indicate that singles are actively looking to date someone who shares their same faith.
“There is no question, looking at outside statistics, that the religious dating sites are finding more growth,” Barcaro said. “People are re-evaluating what makes up a marriage. They really want someone to share their faith with.”
What sets Catholic Match apart from secular dating websites, he said, is the strong sense of community. He explained that providing a community for their members has always been a priority for Catholic Match.
“If we can build a community of singles, the relationships will build themselves,” Barcaro said.
Bryn Evans, 27 of Providence said that since he joined Catholic Match he has “come to realize how many others are out there who share the same faith as I do.”
Catholic Match asks members whether or not they accept specific teachings of the Catholic Church, including: abstaining from premarital sex, use of contraception, sanctity of life, papal infallibility, Immaculate Conception, Eucharist and holy orders.
“Unlike a secular website, people are coming to Catholic Match for a uniquely Catholic experience,” Barcaro explained. “There are a lot of things that you want to know about someone which may not be appropriate for a first or second conversation. The questions allow people to meet others where they are at. We have also found that people who honestly answer those questions may be one of the first times they reflect on where they stand with certain church teachings, and it gets them in conversation with others.”
The website got its start when Barcaro met Jason LaFosse at a parish picnic at St. Boniface Parish in Pittsburgh in 1998. The two started talking about a website and launched one a year later called St. Raphael, which changed its name in 2003. Barcaro said that when they initially launched the site, he and LaFosse hoped it would be a catalyst for marriages, create friendships, and maybe even help them find their future wives.
Barcaro, an active member of Catholic Match, said he has “no great insights in dating or marriage” adding with a laugh that “running a dating site does not make you a dating expert.” He said meeting so many people over the past decade and hearing their personal stories has made him more compassionate.
“For some people, Catholic Match has become an integral community in their lives,” said Barcaro. “They share all these stories and it’s really pretty fascinating. People are very grateful.”
Other than the continual growth of the website, in the next 10 years, Barcaro hopes to have more of an international outreach and to continue to encourage Catholic Match participants to meet others for social activities and other events.
“We really do think that offline activity is the key,” Barcaro said. “If you are not getting people offline you are not doing your job.” He also said the site would like to do a better job with divorced and annulled Catholics “to provide that community and support for them.”
Barcaro explained that even though members are meeting and corresponding with fellow Catholics, it is still important to be cautious online.
“The Church, just like our website, is made up of sinners,” said Barcaro. “While we are confident we have a higher concentration of good people on Catholic Match, then say a general site, it is even more important to use due diligence and to really be prudent. You should use the same due diligence whether you meet someone at Mass, a bar or online. There is no reason to let your guard down until you feel that you have really discovered what you need to know to make sure the person is credible.”