The Rundown on Catholic Dating Sites
Ave Maria Singles
About 5,000 active members plus 700 on the six-month-old Spanish-language version of the site (www.solterosdelavemaria.com).
Cost: $99 for lifetime standard membership (includes "Ask Father" and "Ask Married Member" features), plus $48 for option pack, which includes blocking capability, one-on-one chat, a multiphoto album and other features ($30 and $55 for the Spanish site). Site browsing not open to nonmembers. Members only browse profiles of opposite sex.
Best for: Catholics who accept 100 percent of church teaching and seek partner with same views.
Site founder Anthony Buono: "We're just trying to service the certain person who is called to marriage, eligible for Catholic marriage, and wants to meet someone who shares their depth of the faith. I always specify contraception and abortion, the big two home run issues, if you will, that tend to separate the 100 percent practicing Catholic from those who are close."
Newly acquired from Mingle Match Inc. by Spark Networks, a publicly held company in Germany that has filed a registration statement with the Securities Exchange Commission in anticipation of a Nasdaq listing later this year. Also owns J-Date, Christian Mingles, Black Singles and the mass-market site American Mingles.
Best for: Those for whom Catholic identity is one component for screening potential dates/mates and are comfortable with a range of adherence to Catholic practice and belief (or none at all).
Cost: Free to post your own photo profile, browse other photo profiles, read message boards, submit your own photos, search database. Paid membership ($19.99/month) allows live chat, post messages on boards, IM and other interactive features. No refunds for unused time.
Spark Networks vice president of communications, Gall Laguna: "Compared to mass market sites, business metrics are in favor of niche sites. Purely anecdotal evidence shows niche or affinity focused communities [have] higher rates of retention. People stay longer and pay more to be part of those communities. …