The Tale of the Monsignor and the Quinceañera Dress

The Tale of the Monsignor and the Quinceañera Dress June 15, 2021

We are nearing the two-year anniversary of my smackdown with Father Kevin. And it’s just my luck that I have come across another funny Priest Reacting Inappropriately to the Female Shoulder story on social media! Thanks to my friend Juana for posting this story to Twitter and giving me permission to reprint it! 

–M. P. 


Today on THE PARISH I just told Fr Boss this absolutely true story from my childhood and he was pretty solidly like “wtf” so now y’all get to hear it and pass judgment.

Okay. Let’s set the scene. It’s the summer after freshman year of high school, commonly known as Quince Season. My dear friend Jeanne is turning 15 and asks me to be in her traditional 14-dama court. I love Jeanne, and the dress isn’t as hideous as I expect, so I’m in. Jeanne goes to my grandmother’s parish, so that’s where the Mass will be. Our dresses are given to us – I can’t find any pictures, so here is an approximation. Think this, but hot pink, in a stiffer fabric, with a longer skirt and higher (still strapless) neckline.

The dress comes with a little wrap in the same fabric. it’s kind of weirdly packaged, but fine. The day arrives. I arrive on time, because I was a different person in high school, and am faced with a disaster. Three of our damas have forgotten or otherwise left their wraps. One of them had a sibling who had ripped it, one left it in their car, and the other one just forgot it at home. 3/14 damas, no wrap. Okay? Nope. Msgr’s solution was to refuse to start Mass at all. He yelled at the girls to call their parents and have them bring them the wraps. One of the parents had dropped the girl off on the way to work, so that one was out. The parent of one who’d left it at home was annoyed at being contacted about it, but agreed to come deliver the wrap. The third one was unwearable, so contacting the parents didn’t help much.

After delaying the Mass literally almost half an hour (the one parent who could bring it lived across town), Msgr got tired of waiting and instead demanded we start the Mass – but not with these exposed shoulders. Dear reader, do you know what is coming?

Msgr, tired of waiting, demands we cover the girls. His solution is to get CORPORALS FROM THE SACRISTY and force the girls to cover themselves with them. A corporal is generally less than two feet wide, so even as children, this was terribly ineffective. In hindsight, this is even more profoundly ridiculous than it was that day. I felt awful for those three girls, none of whom were remotely Catholic. The faraway parent slid in breathless and delivered the wrap during the Gospel, but the other two had to keep wearing the corporal. I’m pretty sure they’re wearing them in the church pictures, but Jeanne went off the grid a few years ago and took the pics with her, so you’ll just have to trust me on that. Anyway.

My grandmother later reported that her friend the sacristán was horrified at finding long red and brown hair on her linens, which makes me even more concerned that he just TOSSED THE LINENS BACK INTO THE CLEAN DRAWER LIKE NOTHING HAD HAPPENED. hello?????
Today in our wedding meeting modesty came up and I told this story, and Fr and our wedding coordinator both stared at me like I’d grown a third head. “Corporals?!?!”Yes. I swear to you. I remember the embroidery clashing with the pink. They stared at me.
Fr: that’s a profoundly inappropriate use of sacred linens.
Me: yep. He’s not a priest anymore.
Fr: oh. Did he get married? Me (cleaning nails): nah. he got sued
Coordinator: (chokes)
Fr: …ah. So he was just taking his own issues out on women.
Me: yeah. A lot. That was sort of his MO. Except we were children.
Fr: …Gross.
Coordinator (still shocked): …He put them BACK with the CLEAN ONES?
me: that’s what grandma’s friend said, yeah.
Fr: SACRISTÁN would murder me if I tried that.
Me: yeah, well, you’re not a creep OR a monsignor, thank God.
Fr (very clearly considering his life choices): *shocked face*
Anyway the lesson here is priests be normal about modesty in women (who were actually children at the time) and if things go Wrong maybe deal with it without belittling said children and misusing sacred linens. here’s the only picture I can find of the dresses. Ok bye!
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