By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
ST. PAUL — Rachel Conrad attended her first prom earlier this month, not as a high school student but as a married woman wearing a formal dress and walking into St. James Parish Hall with her husband, Darin. “I was able to spend a wonderful evening with my husband and friends and meet new people from our community,” said Rachel, a member of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in West Point.
Adults from the West Point parish, St. James the Less-St. Paul, St. Boniface-Farmington and St. John the Baptist-Houghton had the opportunity to attend the multi-parish prom April 9. Nathan Clark, family and youth minister for the parishes, planned the prom with his wife, Kristine, as a fundraiser to offset costs for youths to attend the 2023 National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC). “We were thinking of ways that we could bring people together, have a good time and strengthen relationships among our parishes,” Nathan Clark said. “Also, with today’s sports schedules and so many activities that are packed into family life in our society, we wanted to create an opportunity to give parents a weekend to focus just on themselves and to have fun.”
The prom took place in the new St. James Parish Hall in St. Paul. The parish completed work on the building in the spring of 2020 after a successful $985,000 capital campaign but couldn’t officially open until last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said parishioner Mike Mueller.
The hall has space for 300 people and includes a full-service kitchen, restroom, sound system, meeting room and basement.
Local Catholic Will Stuekerjuergen donated DJ services to the event and From the Heart Flowers and Gifts donated balloons and helium. Guests enjoyed snacks, a photo booth, and a 50/50 raffle and voted on a king and queen of the prom: Rachel and Darin Conrad.
“For several people, this was their first prom experience,” said Lori Mueller, who attended the prom with her husband Mike. The atmosphere was warm and welcoming, she said. “Nobody cared what anyone wore. Most were dressed to the hilt, but not everyone.”
“It was neat to see everyone let their hair down,” said Cathy Mehmert, a member of the West Point parish. “You would have thought we were a bunch of teenagers!”
RaeAnn Menke, a member of the St. Paul parish, said the event “was like walking into my high school prom all over again.” She attended with her husband, Loren, and said multi-parish activities are a great way to build relationships.
“It was a great evening and so much fun,” said Linda Pieper of the Houghton parish. She attended with her husband, Lee. “Couples of all ages were there. I think everyone had a great time dressing up, dancing and visiting with one another.” She appreciated the opportunity to give money to the parishes’ NCYC fund.
About 65 people attended the prom, which Nathan Clark plans to make an annual event. “I believe God desires his Church to build genuine and sincere relationships with each other as the body of Christ so we can experience fulfillment and help each other run and finish the race of faith. We have to spend time together outside of Mass for this to happen. Our first parish prom was a ton of fun and we are already looking forward to next year!”