My Culture

Canceled Proms and Postponed Graduations

I’m glued to my phone, looking for updates. How many cases? How many deaths? I get an email notification with COVID-19 in the subject line and my heart skips a beat. Then I roll my eyes.

“Texas Roadhouse wants you to know we’re taking extra steps to avoid spreading COVID-19.” Thanks, Texas Roadhouse. I really appreciate it.

Every store and restaurant I’ve ever been to has sent me an email this month describing their new handwashing policy. It’s a little annoying, but it’s been great for purging my inbox. Why am I getting emails from Old Navy in the first place? Unsubscribe. When did I give my information to Sephora? I don’t remember shopping there.

My students, on the other hand, have had their hearts broken by notifications. Whether it was through a Remind text or parent newsletter, high school students across the country have found out their proms and graduations are canceled. If you’re reading this, you’re probably in the same boat.

We’re here for you. We don’t want you to give up on making those memories. We want to help you find creative ways to celebrate your last semester, as crazy as it turned out to be. Sometimes, digital technology isolates us from one another. But now is a great time to learn how to use it to grow closer.

As an extrovert living by myself, social distancing has been tough. I’ve found Zoom calls are a great way to connect with my friends I don’t get to see. You can even do events over Zoom, hosting a graduation ceremony in your house and video conferencing friends and relatives who can’t be there.

A few students I know decided to do a graduation on Minecraft. While this isn’t for everyone, I thought that was a great idea.

You can also take a canceled prom and turn it into a postponed prom. Save your dress or suit for a few months from now. After this is all over, have an “End of the End of the World” party. Invite over the friends you would have gone to prom with. Clear the living room, dance, and play games.

Some of you may have had sacraments postponed or are afraid it might happen. If you’re supposed to be confirmed this semester or enter the Church this Easter, you’re probably experiencing this Lent in a more tangible way.

Take that feeling to prayer and lean into it. We’re so used to the sacraments being readily available to us, but they haven’t always been that way. Saints are made during times like this because times like this create a real yearning for Christ that may not have been there before.

Lent is a good time to remember Christ’s response to suffering. When we say, “God, why are you letting this happen?” He doesn’t respond with something about how this is all going to work out in the end. He responds with the Cross.

Christ’s response to our suffering is to experience it Himself. When we feel isolated, Christ comes to meet us like the woman at the well or the man born blind.

Find ways to celebrate the big moments that have been canceled, but when you feel that pain say, “Jesus, thank you for experiencing this pain with me.”

Remember, even if you feel alone and far from God during this time, we’re praying for you.

About the Author

Patrick Neve

I’m a youth minister in the Diocese of Pittsburgh and the cohost of The Crunch podcast. I was born and raised in Florida, studied Theology at Franciscan University, and I live by the philosophy, “God thinks I’m funny, so it’s okay if you don’t.” You can find me on Instagram @patrickneveiii.

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