Photography by Paul Johnson

“No funghi face.”  My Italian Dad would proclaim this phrase when he would see one of his children pouting or putting up a fuss for no good reason.  Funghi is the Italian word for mushroom and I wonder how many more people we would attract to the Church if we would make a better attempt to lose the “funghi face” and show that we really do have the joy of the Lord in our hearts and in our daily lives? That’s why when I have the chance either in writing or on the air, I love to promote Catholics who are doing what they can to happily spread the love of God and make the world a better and more joyful place.

One example is a Catholic Mom from my home state of Michigan who started the Mom Prom five years ago and has been a delightful guest on my radio program.  The Mom Prom is held annually usually in early spring.  Betsy Crapps from St. Thomas a’ Becket parish in Canton, Michigan near Detroit explains that the idea came to her after her own Dad passed away. Her Mom was cleaning out the house and brought over some of Betsy’s old clothes, including some rather hideous prom and bridesmaids dresses.  Instead of just dropping the dresses off to a local charity she thought it might be fun to even do more for an organization or a citizen in need and have some good clean fun at the same time.  After all, what Mom wouldn’t look forward to a night out with the girls?  What woman couldn’t use a little pick me up in terms of fellowship, friendship, some line dancing, or even a glass of wine? So the Mom Prom was born.  Betsy spoke with her parish leaders and they agreed the Mom Prom was something worth supporting and hosting.  The ladies night out for charity sees gals donning their tackiest dress and dancing for a good cause.  They charge $20, throw in some refreshments, a DJ, a Tackiest Dress contest, and over the years they’ve raised money for the St. Vincent de Paul Society, struggling parish families, and a parishioner with a spinal cord injury, just to name a few.

The Mom Prom’s joy is somewhat contagious.  The Detroit News got wind of the event and the publication’s write-up which promoted “cheesy gowns for good causes” received a lot of attention.  Local publicity actually helped the Mom Prom spread across the country with similar events being held in several other cities.  The Mom Prom originals received so many inquiries that they even posted a “Mom Prom” process on their web site with five easy steps to create your own prom. What I really love is the organizers’ efforts to invite Moms and other ladies to the yearly gathering.  Betsy, for example, is not ashamed to put on one of her frocks along with a big smile and sell tickets after weekend Masses.  As the young people like to say, “you go girl!”

No doubt we live in a troubled world.  There is a great deal of suffering and persecution and many a cause to fight for.  What I love about being Catholic though, is the Church always teaches moderation and balance.  It’s okay to laugh and to have fun and to remember that regardless of the tough times, life is still a gift to be celebrated in many different ways.  Maybe it’s a Mom Prom.  Maybe it’s just dancing around the living room with your spouse or singing out loud to your favorite song.  Whatever the case, if we truly have the joy of the Lord as our strength, why not show it?  In other words, no funghi face.

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