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’ The community had some social capital, and it allowed you to be comfortable knowing what you would and wouldn’t have to make decisions about.

My mother told me that her biggest worry on a date was what meal she could order so that she still looked pretty eating it.” Today, she says, young adults are bombarded with hyperromantic moments—like viral videos of proposals and over-the-top invitations to the prom—or hypersexualized culture, but there is not much in between.

According to a 2011 Pew Research Center study, 59 percent of people ages 18 to 29 were married in 1960. While it seems that there are more ways than ever to find a spouse—online dating and social media alongside the more traditional methods of parish events or friends of friends, among others—this array of options can also be overwhelming.

For Catholics, discussions of faith can serve as a shortcut to discovering those shared values.

Many seek out young adult events sponsored by Catholic groups, parishes, or dioceses in an effort to broaden their circle of friends.The major challenge posed by the dating world today—Catholic or otherwise—is that it is just so hard to define.Most young adults have abandoned the formal dating scene in favor of an approach that is, paradoxically, both more focused and more fluid than in the past.We walked to a table and the conversation quickly turned to our jobs. He paused with glass in hand and said, “Oh, you’re religious.” I nodded. Yet in a strange way the encounter exemplifies some key elements of the dating scene facing young adults today: We’re trying to be open, to build relationships, to find someone who shares a worldview that reflects similar morals, perspectives, ethics, a desire for growth and, well, other stuff.

And we are still working out the details of how best to make that happen.

After graduating with a theology degree from Fordham University in 2012, Stephanie Pennacchia, 24, joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Los Angeles, where she worked at a drop-in center for teens experiencing homelessness.


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