Gen X Revert points to this story about a Catholic School on Long Island.
"School administrators, reacting to what they called a "sick" prom culture that was out of control, announced in a letter this month to parents that senior prom was canceled.
"Basically, it has become an event in American culture that has all the trappings of excess," said school principal Brother Kenneth Hoagland. "It is not consistent with our philosophy as a Catholic school."
Last year, the school appealed to parents and stopped 46 Kellenberg seniors from spending $20,000 to rent a house for a post-prom weekend in the Hamptons"
"Hoagland said they have invited students to come up with alternate ideas for a school-sponsored event that are consistent with the goals of a Christian education."
He also point to a couple letters on their Kellenberg Memorial High School’s site in reference to the Prom and the September one is full of common sense, Christian perspective, and an indictment of the prom culture. [Evil PDF]
KMHS is willing to sponsor a prom, but not an orgy.
Some ask about a “compromise.” What is there to compromise? Sanity, proportion,modesty, common sense?
Bravo to Father Philip K. Eichner, S.M.
and Brother Kenneth M. Hoagland, S.M. for telling the truth with such clarity and for offering truly a Christian education.
I write a lot about these brothers – they are good people. That September letter is blunt and an indictment of the Long Island culture in general. It is quite the smackdown and quite necessary.
Amazing letter – clear-sighted, forthright. It’s indictment of the parents as really being at the root of the problem is devastating – and true.
It’s time for us to look at our sick culture and choose to be counter-cultural.
I used to be part of a prot sect which historically had no dancing, drinking, etc. While that may seem extreme, I think they were on the right track. Contrary to stereotypes, they had lots of CLEAN fun.
Wow! God bless these guys. Let’s hope and pray this starts a trend.
Hooo-rah! As you military folk say (or, at least heard on that Marine-guy show on the History Channel my guys watch).
I had long held that senior proms were highly overrated. With all the hype surrounding my own prom on it being “the second most important occasion in my life!” I found the dressing up in an expensive gown, struggling into the green Gremlin, eating of the chicken dinner and dancing to “Everybody Wang Chung Tonight,” to be less than the Cinderella Ball as advertised. And for we teens who secretly remained chaste, it presented yet again another awkward “in your face” social event where sex afterwards was the recommended course.
For those of you trying to raise chaste children, I can tell you from personal experience, this “faux marriage” event called The Senior Prom is extraordinarily painful to navigate emotionally from a virgin 18 year-old’s perspective (both boys AND girls). Don’t get me wrong, the struggle of it made me stronger, I believe. But please talk to your kids about this. Tell them what the prom is and ISN’T, and help them with escape hatch language and actions away from drugs, alcohol and sex that accompany these events.
People this age are eager for remarkable and memorable events to happen in their lives. Having sex, drinking and drugging will not produce the memory they want to carry for the rest of their lives.
The religious who are members of the Society of Mary on Long Island are amazing men who care passionately about the growth and development of young men and women.
Before Kellenberg opened, the Society of Mary ran one school, Chaminade High School, where I attended. Bro. Hoagland was my Old Testament teacher my Freshmen year and I can definitely attest to his sincerity.
Thank you for posting this news story. Let’s give these guys all the support we can!
Oh. My. Goodness.
As impressive as the analysis of the Long Island prom culture is, what’s even more impressive is the fact that the administrators would send a letter like this to a parent in the first place.
“And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine; For he taught them as one have authority, and not as the scribes.”
“even more impressive is the fact that the administrators would send a letter like this to a parent in the first place”
This is what is so good about these brothers, they don’t mess around. They have kicked star athletes and sons of local powerful politicians out of their schools for good reason, not caring about the consequences. Their schools are so good they don’t have to worry about financial or political fallout. They routinely have waiting lists to get in. Bro. Hoagland was my freshman religion teacher also and he was always a sincere guy, as all the brothers are. No wonder they have so many men in their community in their 20’s and 30’s.
I am really impressed Believe it or not, but at my kids to private boarding schools, the prom was highly supervised, and regulated in terms of where it was held (ski resort), who drove (they all climbed on a bus and had a great time) and separate wings for the boys and the girls, and faculty and parent chaparones. Was there dringing, and drugs? Probably, but you didn’t get to graduate if you got caught, so most of the kids just stayed up all night eating and carrying on without them. Most of the kids looked great and had a swell time.
Quite unlike my nieces from Woodbury who weren’t seen for two days (they were in the Hamptons…..) after their respective proms.
I just read that PDF. What a great statement. Those Brothers are courageuos and it would not suprize me if , next year, they have an increase in the number of kids who want to go there.
Although I agree with the indictment of “Prom Culture” whole heartedly, as a Catholic School teacher, I STRONGLY take issue with the extreme of being like the Protestant sects that ban all drinking and dancing. Catholic Culture, GOOD Catholic Culture, is usually full of festivals, dancing, and a good drink in moderation. Our young adult group at our parish had meetings at the local pub all the time, and Jesus himself drank and danced for recreation. The problem is with EXTRMES. If you want to make that personal choice not to drink or dance, thats fine. But I have a lot of good clean fun myself with other Catholics drinking my pints and dancing up a storm like Catholics have always done. You don;t have to get drunk when you drink, and you can dance just to enjoy the music and have a good time without being suggestive in a raw way. We aren’t Puritans, thank God.
Its great to see so many converts coming in from Evangelicalism, but the evangelical influence on Catholic culture in this country makes me a little nervous.
Prom has been overblown for so long, and has pressured so many for so long, that this comes like a breath of fresh air.
I remember my own high school days, and a relatively benign manifestation of that prom stupidity. One of my few friends was a guy who had a long time crush on me, whom I’d been trying to discourage for a good long while. My mother encouraged him. (I eventually found out that she was having long conversations with him on the phone.) He asked me to the prom early on. I said no early on. My mom freaked. I tried to explain that prom and afterprom were big fat sex pressure pits, and besides, I didn’t want to go, had never wanted to go, and especially didn’t want to go with him. I was not believed.
My mom sent me to charm school (at the local bridal/prom dress shop) and told my friend that of course I would go to the prom. Two weeks before prom, I learned that my friend had already rented a tux and a limo, and that I was supposed to pick out a dress from the dress shop and go.
Principle being boistered by fashion and huge anger at everyone in sight, I didn’t say no. I said Hell no, never in a million years.
That was pretty much the end of that friendship. I’ve never broken it to my mom that the guy became first a neopagan and then a satanist (I hope he’s not, now). I still feel unhappy about being quite so much la belle dame sans merci, but… how can you safely go out with anybody who doesn’t believe that no means no? And how can you respect or be friends with anybody who takes your mom’s word about your attitudes as worth more belief than your own? I mean, hello! If you want to date a woman, you should be talking to her!
Oh, and I forgot to mention that one regional science fiction convention takes place in a downtown hotel adjacent to one which used to be used often for afterproms. Thanks to its timing in May, open curtains, and lit rooms, people in some of the convention hotel’s rooms often used to be able to watch high school kids from prom having sex across the street. (Not that I watched as long as that, being busy with closing my own curtains….)
Another thing I never told my mom was, “I told you so.”
Not one Catholic festival I am aware of promotes drinking to underage children, which the children attending prom would be. I say Bravo to the Priest and Brother who had the foresight to take this brave step and ban this from taking place. Now if they want to have drinking and dancing at the 5 or 10 year reunion when all of the participants will be of age then I say fine.
While it is possible to have good clean fun along with spirits and dancing, the norm is that is not the case – at least in our culture. There is the weaker brother to consider.
While I have been to Catholic wedding receptions that are just fine, if I had to choose between two randomly selected wedding receptions- one Catholic and one protestant – I’d pick the Prot one every time. My priest rarely attends Catholic receptions – too much foolishness.
The evangelicals of my younger years never emphasized drinking as a sin – it just that it wasn’t part of their culture. Even the Mormons, wrong as they are – have created a Christian culture where being good is more the norm than the exception.
I don’t think that scripture ever shows Jesus drinking recreationally or dancing recreationally. Drinking wine at dinner is not recreation – it’s relaxation and enjoyment of that gift at an appropriate time. If Jesus danced, it would have been in praise to His father as David did. Shaking your booty to suggestive songs is not godly. 90% of modern music is drenched in sin and idolotry. Drinking recreationally (i.e for the sake of drinking)is not Godly either.
BTW I drink beer in the summer and wine at restaurants.
read the epistle in tomorrow’s Sunday readings.
“whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious,
if there is any excellence
and if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.”
There is little that is honorable and true in modern pop music. And recreational drinking can cause (spiritual) blindeness and weakness.
Catholics have a terrible reputaion for casual sin. That school is a scandal with a capital S.
Please everyone pray in Thanksgiving for these brave and holy consecrated men. May their example inspire similar actions in other schools.
I can assure you, there is very little “suggestive” in our weekly Ceili dancing, and although letting loose is not uncommon after a few pints, it is hardly on the level of sin. It is about being with the people you love, celebrating your culture, and having a good time. Our parish preist in our predominantly Irish nieghboorhood always shows up at our parties on the beach and has a few beers with us; our school chaplain went out for happy hour with a few of us teachers last week; both preists are well known for their orthodoxy and traditional orientation and they never get drunk, they just have a good time with their people. Traditionally, Catholics are very accepting of having a good time and a good drink as a community bonding experience; this is very different from the debauchery and rump shaking clubbing-prom-MTV culture. And yes, of course Jesus drank and danced recreationally; he was Jewish, and they dance and celebrate at weddings, and a drink with dinner, or two, or a few, is “recreational”.
Part of the reason I think we have an alchohol problem in this country is the extremes between puritain and libertine attitudes that are reactions against each other. Again the key is MODERATION. Rather than ban all fun, Catholic Christians need to reclaim it from the soulessness and gross commercialization of modernity. Banning prom in its current form is a brave and necessary step, but what are we going to replace it with? If we offer nothing beautiful, fun, and genuinely joyful in its place kids will continue to look for their recreation in all the wrong places. Puritainism and Hedonism are two extremes that feed off each other, espeically in our Protestant American culture, and they exclude genuine Catholic fun.
And also if you want to choose to eschew all dancing and alchohol, that is nice for you. But as a Catholic now, you are not in a position to condemn it for fellow Catholics. There are a lot of “weaker brethren” who would get quite shaken by over-moralizing and being told by a convert that the hallmarks of their culture are inconsistant with the faith their Fathers. I don’t know what part of the country you live in, but I know up here in New England, there are a lot of good decent Catholics…mass going people with tons of kids and support for the church, who would be extremely resentful of the “we should be more like protestants” attitude. A snippet from a conversation I heard over a beer on the beach recently…
“So my son is marrying that girl from Kentucky… it won’t be much of a reception; dry, no dancing, all Christian music…ughhh”
“Thats okay. They can have the wedding. We’ll throw a reception. [insert sound of laughing and drinking]”
I respect your personal choices, but, now that you are a Catholic, you need to be respectful of our heritage, and it includes spirits and dancing.
Sorry, I just re-read your post and picked up a few things I hadn’t before, Mark. I think we are sort of saying some of the same things with different words? I definately don’t advocate “drunkeness and debauchery”, but I guess I’ve always been exposed to responsible drinking and more traditional cultural forms of dancing and fun that you might not encounter in a more polarized Evangelical vs. Secularism cultural context. And I consider drinking with dinner, or even a few beers out at the bar, to be non-sinful recreational drinking. And I apologize if I got a little harsh, I was raised with a very “anti-evangelical” attitude and sometimes still get hives when I hear certain evangelical language.
BTW: I love the epistle also myself. I shared it with my religion students last week and have it pasted up on my fridge.
I just want to point out that both high schools run by these brothers still have school dances, several a year. The letter also points out that it is silly that 18 year olds can do everything but drink. This community sees nothing wrong with drinking in moderation, or with dancing.
funny that you should be posting that passage on your fridge. I’m just now typing up the Lifeteen Mass music handout for tonight with the lyrics, where I also plaster a few passages from today’s readings. I have copied that passage with a banner above saying “a fridge-worthy scripture” hoping that people cut it out and put it on their fridge (and hopefully in their hearts.)
I understand what you are saying about these celebrations. I am perfectly comfortable having one or two beers with family and friends by the barbecue grill or watching a game. It is the bar culture and it’s that mentality approaches an occasion of sin – and I think that is for most. The values promoted in a bar – and at many receptions, with the music are not good. It’s not just alcohol but the whole entertainment culture. Can we really dance with Briitany or whoever telling us to “get it on.”? Is this an example to the world? If Jesus danced to music at festivals, I’ll bet it was music in praise of God, not coolnes, money, or modern notions of love.
Of course, the fullness of Catholic life means setting an example with more than the “don’ts,” but that doesn’t make the don’ts passe. Also, being aware of the last pope’s explanation of the culture of death, I am aware that our entertainment culture is a catylst for those anti-values.
I’ve been to dry weddings -people actually talk, make jokes, roast the bride and groom, organize a game with the kids on the lawn. You meet many interesting folks – with no loud music to drown you out.
I think that Catholics DO need to examine our culture in light of Phillipians 4. The prom problem didn’t happen in a vacuum. After all, we learned to sing from the Protestants (John Wesley, not CCM), so maybe we could learn some things about living more soberly.
peace anfd good,
This is an interesting thread. I’m a sort of reverse-Evangelical in my attitude about drinking: it isn’t wrong, but I just don’t want to do it. It’s my firm conviction that anyone who has a halfway-decent brain can have a lot more fun with it if he doesn’t fuddle it with controlled substances.
I’m surprised and delighted to hear that this school (named for the first and best bishop of Rockville Center) is run by the same brothers who run Chaminade. Thirty years ago, when I was a child on Long Island (Our Lady of Loretto), Chaminade was better known for academic rigor than for orthodoxy. Either it was maligned, or the order which runs it and Kellenberg has come a long way.
I think we are kind of on the same point; I just wanted to reiterate though that there is a medium between the Only Christian/Only Secular pop cultures; FOLK cultures. There is a lot of American country music that is great to dance to and great loud, and the pub culture that I guess I spend my social life in is all Irish folk music and dancing, which is a far cry from Britney Spears, which I agree is hideous. And at weddings and bars with alchohol and dancing there is also the speeches and the talking; most of the best and most intersting people I know I know from the bar counter or the couches around the fireplace at our neighboorhood pub. There are other pub cultures other than the hook-up-loud-obscene-music culture. I utterly despise that kind of bar culture, but pub culture can also have positive elements to it; talking with your friends and nieghboors over beer all night, meeting new people, dancing to real live music with traditional insturments, etc. The pub culture I am familiar in also is intergenerational; there are young adults to old people there, rather than just all singles trying to pick each other up. One of the most fun evenings I had recently was at our neighboorhood pub on a live music night with an older lady friend who dragged me out onto the dance floor for one of her favorite Donegal songs and started kicking up a storm of 7s and 3s and swinging. I LOVE that kind of pub culture, and think it is very Catholic and something that needs to be promoted in place of the Sodom and Gomorrah-esque bar culture. That was my point.
Rather than just ditch bar culture, we need to reclaim the neighboorhood pub for the neighboorhood and promote quality good times. Same goes for prom and “Youth Culture”; rather than get rid of all popular or non-religious forms of music and fun, we need to promote QUALITY stuff and good entertainment for young people. Unfortunately, it seems like the only other alternative we offer kids is the “Contemporary Christian” thing, which retains all the tackiness and bad quality and sloppiness of youth culture, but just exchanges poorly written lyrics and tacky sloganed T-shirts about violence for poorly written lyrics and tacky-sloganed T-shirts about Jesus. People need a “folk” life and fun music that is not always just religious; country music and dancing is a great example of quality American “folk” that is not just religious, same with some of our Northeastern artists like Springsteen that talk about the human condition honestly, or swing music or ethnic folk music (Polka, Ceili) that gives us something to have a good rowdy time to thats not nasty. Same goes with prom; instead of getting rid of prom, we need to promote good alternatives that aren’t boring, and we need to be fighting the MTV culture by trying to give our kids alternative forms of FOLK, fun music (not just Christian) to party to. They are hungry for it; remember when Swing dancing got trendy again with young people a few years ago? And our Ceili club is predominantly younger people. Rather than desperage fun, Catholics should be reclaiming it and making it something authentic and joyous rather than souless, oversexed, and commercial.
Sounds pretty silly to me. I still remember my prom with affection and don’t recall anything sick about it. I must have missed the memo. When did Catholics start thinking like Southern Baptists? Is this repeat of Footloose? What’s next? I mean for pete’s sake even Amish kids go to dances.
well, you should have said neighborhood bar and folk music – that is a far cry from the flashing lights, narrow race/age/income demographic that I associate with places to dance.
The multigenerational pub concept can be a fine thing. In the Chicago neighborhoods they actually call them “family bars.” I don’t usually associate a pub/bar with dancing though.
I love watching the older generation swing dancing and jitterbugging – how they do it is beyond me.
Lately the only bars I ever see come with lettuce and tomatoes (John Hiatt).
I think you are too hard on Contemporary Christian thing. Some of it definitly stinks, but lately it hs improved with the Praise and Worship genre. – not necessarily played by Christian radio but big selling and often used for songs at churches including the Lifeteen Mass tonight. We did Holy and Anointed One, You are My ALL in all, & Trading my Sorrows tonight (plus Lord of all Faithfulnes from the hymnal).
Well now I will end this line of discussion, becauSe the musiC police will now commence throwing brickbats at me.
nice chatting witya,
If prom was like a ceilidh, I wouldn’t have had any problem with going and dancing up a storm!
Similarly, my parents taught me to regard drinking as no big deal, something you did with dinner or whatever. That’s why I couldn’t take college drinking at all seriously. Who would actually want to put tongue to Mad Dog or that wine cooler crud? Much less drink enough to get drunk on it? Ewwww.
“Up here in New England, there are a lot of good decent Catholics…mass going people with tons of kids and support for the church, who would be extremely resentful of the ‘we should be more like protestants’ attitude.”
I am blessed to be part of a group of the same types of Catholics that you describe, although I am in the Chicago area. I do find, however, that the resentfulness you mention manifests itself in going almost too far in the opposite direction; a friend from the group is embarrassed to let others in the group know she is having fertility problems, and confided in me that she is “this close” to going through extraordinary measures to conceive because stopping at two children would be “too Protestant” (her words); also, at social gatherings, I feel like I am in college again, being pressured to have a drink by people who say, “What kind of Catholic are you?” when I decline their offer (or else they assume I’m pregnant). Again, I love these people, but their definition of how Catholics are supposed to behave can sometimes be so narrow.
“I respect your personal choices, but, now that you’re Catholic, you need to be respectful of our heritage, and it includes spirits and dancing.”
Like you, that is my (Irish Catholic) heritage, too, but I always saw the “spirits and dancing” part of our heritage as more the Irish part, with the Catholic part contributing occasions to celebrate, as well as balance to help us (hopefully) in the area of moderation. The
Catholic Church is a universal Church, but does Catholicism automatically include spirits and dancing in every ethnic group’s heritage? Asian Catholics? African Catholics? While the CCC does not, of course, prohibit drinking, it doesn’t appear to encourage its members to partake one way or another, either (except for wine at mass).
“I love that kind of pub culture and think it is very Catholic”
You are so fortunate to have this be your experience of pub culture. Unfortunately, my family’s experience, even with neightborhood taverns that were intergenerational, was far less positive. We have often been stricken with what has been called the “Irish Cancer” – my grandfather, an aunt, and an uncle, as well as my father-in-law died of cirrohsis. In addition, addictive behavior extended itself from alcohol to drugs in the next generation, with one of my cousins dying from an overdose, and two others losing their families to divorce because of their drug addictions.
Your family is blessed to be living in a healthier environment. God bless you.
You probably missed all those kids bending their dates over the tables. Unfortunately, I couldn’t help but *not* see them — every couple not on the dance floor was doing just that. I figure the only way for me to have missed them was if I was stoned, drunk, or doing the very same thing with my date. However, I had more dignity than that.
I agree with Abigail that kids should be presented with alternatives to that kind of rubbish. You would be surprised how many kids want *nothing* to do with what proms have become. Why should they have to feel left out for having dignity and firm moral fibre?
I live in the Boston Area, and there is really far too much tolerance for “Drinkin'” (as it here known) too much.
Personally, I love a beer ot two on a hot day. I like a scotch now and then, and we frequently have wine with dinner. But drunkenness is big drag and moderation has to be the key.
I married into a Irish family and it is naive to suggest alcoholism isn’t a problem in Irish culture. (Incidently, it is also a big problem in England.) I have a bro-in-law dying from a failed liver, as I write this.
My absolutely Irish Catholic parish priest drinks no alcohol except at the Eucharist, for reasons I don’t really know, and the other priest in my parish is a recovering alcoholic. They are both supurb priests, and wouldn’t deny anyone a fine old time, but as I said, it is all about moderation.
I just read this article on Yahoo News. I went to a private, Catholic, Jesuit, all-boys school in Kansas City, Missouri. I am now a freshman at a Catholic Jesuit college, Marquette. I am happy to see someone standing up for the values of the school. I drank prom night, and I continue to drink in college; but, when things get out of hand, it is right for someone to stand up. Hoagland has balls to stand up against some obviously very influential people. I am glad to finally see someone in authority take a stance on his/her own values, and not the stance of those with money/power/influence. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” Hoagland is doing just that, taking action to change something he finds morally detrimental.
-about time, hooray for Brother Hoagland
Memory of Catholic high school prom 1964 held outside the school. No security and the boys showed up stoned drunk with their dates! One could not stand and slept on the table the whole night-his date had an expression of pain also for the whole night that she probably remembers to this day-and what is she to tell her father?
I can tell you years later what you think is cute and rebellious is really sinful behavior that will only manifest itself as guilt years later.
Catholic education is about living christian values and practicing the virtues marked by a life in the Spirit. Unfortunately, Catholic schools have become a refuge of those fleeing ethnic diversity, community commitment, social awareness- an elitist upper class that is isolated and self-absorbed. Protestants look at this and say “see what’s wrong with Catholics, I’m glad I am a bible believer …
This controversy is precisely where a Catholic education is a true witness to the world.
Follow the spirit of his holiness John Paul II-
Catholic men be proud to associate with young women who wish to live also in the spirit of John Paul and Mother Teresa,
create sweet memories for your high school years, marked by loyal and respectful friendships.
Bravo, to the men who showed that a catholic school must stand for something. Imagine the shock of some when they found that out!!
When I heard this on the news, I almost didn’t believe my ears! I now live in the Southeast (where in some areas we are almost a mission church) and it was a wonderful moment when my Protestant friends were praising a Catholic school! (It also was my school; I am a Maria Regina alum.) I think it’s well past time for the whole prom thing to either be controlled or done away with. Yes, it’s sad in a way, but when we have parents with more money than brains, what do we expect? Besides, with some colleges losing their accreditation (for not adhering to Catholic dogma and doctrine) it is most fitting that a Catholic school stand up and do the right thing. The students are being taught a valuable lesson, one that I doubt many will get at home. Regretfully it’s probably lost on the very same adults who need it most!
These parents have not followed through on their responsibilities on several levels, most notably in the area of morals/morality. Just because it’s “your money” doesn’t give you the right to provide anything that puts children (yes, they ARE children) in harm’s way. And where are the Gospel values?? One has to ask the question: why are their children in this school in the first place? And this is not “anti-dance” or “anti-fun” or even “anti-drinking”…it’s anti-excess. It’s clear that this has gone way over the top, and the parents are the ones who must accept the responsibility, rather than making BKHS the “bad guy”.
Should the school wait until a student is killed in an accident, or drowns while drunk, before taking a stand? Of course not! It’s a shame the parents and students do not realize how fortunate they are to have a principal with backbone, strength and the courage to act upon his convictions.
As a senior at Kellenberg, we feel we are being punished for something we have no part of. Mostly all the teachers say we have one of the best classes in awhile. Why stop it with us? We have been there for at least 4 years, some other have been there for 5,6, or even 7 years. As far as we know, we also nolonger have senior dress up day. WHat else are they going to take from us and still say they are not punishing us? It should not have been stopped with us. Or they should have made it the weekend before graduation, like other Long Island high schools. Some of the teachers are backing us up and its mostly older people who are backing the school. It is getting way out of hand and people are getting very mad. There is talk about us just having a formal, but everyone says they wont go or if they go, they will get limos and go out after. The people that are going to drink and do all that stuff, cancling the prom wont stop them from doing it. We feel its our parents responsibility what we do after and that our class is being punished for something we didnt do.
Comments are closed.