Among Catholics, the search for a suitable spouse can be frustrating because of the church’s insistence that one marry within the faith.Sometimes it’s slim pickings, said several local singles who gathered recently at Theology on Tap (To T), a spiritually based lecture series at Ireland’s Four Fields on Connecticut Avenue in Northwest.“Jennifer,” a well-dressed federal employee in her 40s, said she has sought a Catholic husband for more than 15 years but finds it hard to deal with how many men expect sex early on in the dating relationship.“Premarital sex and living together seem to be the natural and quick progression of a relationship,” she said, “and as a Catholic Christian woman, that is not my expectation or practice.”Among her heartbreaks was a potential husband who committed suicide.“The church needs to realize that not everyone finds their soul mate under 30,” she said, “and that it would really help us in our search if we felt more support from the church.”According to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University, the numbers should be in her favor. But the Washington area - which, with Boston, has the country’s largest percentage of singles - has a ratio of nine men for every 10 women, according to the 2000 census.

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There are 6.9 million never-married Catholic men and 6.1 million never-married women, and 72 percent of all U. Moreover, the men and women at the To T meeting said their station in life - known as “unconsecrated single life” in Catholic parlance - does not fit neatly in the two predominant life roles suggested by the church: Marriage and religious orders, which are sacraments.

There is an obscure vocation to perpetual virginity. But at this particular To T meeting, Andre Leyva, a psychologist and a Catholic, was talking to adults who are hoping to marry.“Mental health is about relationships, starting with God,” he said.

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Simeon Pollock, a married acupuncturist in Silver Spring who was not at the To T event, has facilitated matchmaking among Orthodox Jews.“In the Jewish community, girls are being encouraged to date outside of their comfort zone,” he said. This is a person, not a custom-ordered car.”He knows some people may see matchmaking as old-fashioned but said, “You can’t do anything with no effort.

Matchmaking takes patience and persistence.”Matchmaking hasn’t caught on among Catholics, but the Rev.

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