She Married the Priest


Jonathan Morris and Kaitlyn Folmer met at the Vatican. He was a priest. Some things changed along the way.

Unforgettable. That’s the word that brought the worlds of Kaitlyn Folmer and Jonathan Morris back into the same orbit after a brief but indelible encounter more than seven years earlier.

“When I first met Kaitlyn, I found her to be super smart, super happy, very efficient, and very energetic,” Mr. Morris, 48, said. “She was someone who was really hard to forget.”

The two first met in March 2013, when both were in Rome to report on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the conclave that elected Pope Francis.

Ms. Folmer, 37, an investigative producer in New York for ABC News, was booking guests at that time for “Good Morning America,” and one of them was Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, whose wingman was Mr. Morris. Mr. Morris was then a Roman Catholic priest and a media adviser, as well as an analyst for Fox News.

During the booking process, she said, she was “incredibly impressed” with Mr. Morris.

“He was very kind and very pleasant, and I liked the fact that he also spoke Italian,” said Ms. Folmer, who was then living on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

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After the trip to Rome, she said, “I would catch him every once in a while on TV.”

One day in June 2019, Ms. Folmer happened to catch Mr. Morris on television yet again, this time discussing his decision to leave the priesthood for a new life that could potentially include marriage and a family.

Four months earlier, in February 2019, Mr. Morris had been granted a sabbatical by Cardinal Dolan to think over what would become a life-altering decision.

“I was seeking a special dispensation to leave the priesthood,” Mr. Morris said. “I received about 25,000 emails in the two days that followed my announcement during that interview.”

One of those emails was sent by Ms. Folmer, though Mr. Morris had not seen it because of the sheer volume of messages in his inbox.

A week later, Mr. Morris noticed a post from Ms. Folmer on her social media and thought it would be a good time to reach out, so he sent her a direct message on Twitter. “Kaitlyn, I don’t know if you remember me, but we met in Rome when I was a Catholic priest,” he wrote.

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“I’ve requested dispensation from Pope Francis for the possibility of leaving the priesthood. I’m wondering if you are still in New York, and if you’d like to go to lunch.”

Ms. Folmer said that when she saw the text, she was “as curious as she was excited.”

“I knew what he had said in his statement, but I wanted a deeper understanding of why he left the priesthood,” she said. “I’m an investigative producer, so being curious is a huge part of my nature.”

They met for lunch at Match 65, a restaurant in Manhattan, on June 13, 2019, which happened to be Ms. Folmer’s birthday. “We drank rosé, and sat and talked for about two hours,” she said. “We got along so well. It was just such an enjoyable time.”

They parted ways and Ms. Folmer waited for a follow-up phone call from Mr. Morris that did not come for three weeks.

“Can you believe that,” said Ms. Folmer, her voice rising. “I was a bit concerned, but my girlfriends said do not call him, which I didn’t. And they told me that if he really wants to see you again, he will make it happen.”

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Asked about the silence, Mr. Morris said simply, “Well, I wasn’t really looking to jump into a relationship at that exact time.”

But he was still very much interested in Ms. Folmer, who grew up in Harrisburg, Pa., as an evangelical Christian, and graduated from N.Y.U. with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism.

“I had been living out in Akron, Ohio, at that time, and getting into a new business,” he said, “but no matter where I went, Kaitlyn was always on my mind.”

Mr. Morris, who is now a partner in Morris and Larson Advisors, a New York-based executive coaching and leadership development firm, remains an analyst for Fox News. He grew up in Cleveland and graduated from Pontifical University Regina Apostolorum, a Vatican university, with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and advanced degree in moral theology and ethics.

Source: The New York Times


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