May 12, 2006

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

A Mother’s Day call for modesty in clothing

When I graduated from Cathedral Grade School in Belleville, Ill., my mother and I carefully chose a pale blue pique dress for me to wear to the ceremony at which I would receive a four-year scholarship to the Academy of Notre Dame, an area high school.

The bishop would present this award, and we wanted to be sure my dress was acceptable. Mom and Dad and I stopped at the sisters’ convent for approval. I passed inspection.

Before graduating from high school, I attended a prom, and my date took me to visit the Notre Dame sisters for approval. This was during the years when girls were encouraged to buy only clothes with a “Marian” or “Marylike” tag, and my gown was not, so I was concerned. Again, no problem!

In later years—and even today—I was and am appalled to see prom photographs with young ladies wearing what I consider inappropriate attire.

So it was with much interest that I received a report about “Project Mother’s Day 2006” from Christian Newswire. The Family Life Office in the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., co-sponsors this call to Catholic action with The Leaven, a lay apostolate founded by Alton and Juliana Davis in 1987 in honor of Catholic teaching on chastity.

On Mother’s Day, Pius X Catholic High School in Lincoln is hosting a celebration of womanhood, including the veneration of the Blessed Mother. The speaker will be Colleen Hammond, the author of the rapidly selling book Dressing with Dignity.

Dressing with dignity was the message my friends and I learned from the “Marylike” movement and the School Sisters of Notre Dame, and this should not be lost to the current generation of young women. The Lincoln event will give men and women an opportunity “to petition area merchants to provide tasteful, modest fashions in keeping with women’s sacred dignity,” according to Christian Newswire.

Area Knights of Columbus councils were also asked to sponsor appropriate fashions, with young ladies ages 13 to 18 participating. Since more than 90 applied for this, winners were chosen by brief essays on modesty. A panel of judges rates models for “feminine genius,” a term used by the late Pope John Paul II in “Mulijeres Dignitatem,” an encyclical “on the giftedness of women.” The Leaven, a non-profit organization, will present cash awards to the top three young women.

Until checking Colleen Hammond’s Web site (, I did not know there are specific companies being endorsed for proper attire—even some for men.

This year, organizers for this Mother’s Day event took as patronesses two strong women: Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas, and recently canonized St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

Next year, perhaps Hoosier Catholics could conscientiously follow in the footsteps of this Lincoln, Neb., project.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)


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