Thanks to a reader for alerting me to this item from the Archdiocesan Catholic Education website. I don’t know if I can describe this train wreck better than the photo (above) and description from the site itself:

St. Ann-Normandy students surprised their pastor Father Bill Kempf with a special mass to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his ordination. The altar and ambo were decorated with beautiful silver cloths, and 6th and 7th grade students opened and closed the Mass with a joyous liturgical dance. Before the Mass ended, student council representatives presented Father Bill with a money tree filled with dollar bills from all the students.

It is a wonderful thing to show gratitude to one’s priest and pastor– good priests sacrifice their whole lives for the sake of their flock. And so I can pass on the slightly weird money-tree thing. But the fact that the school children put on a liturgical dance at Mass is appalling in and of itself, and for other reasons it tends to suggest:

1) Liturgical dance is not allowed, and the rubrics of Mass are being ignored. The Mass is not the private property of any liturgical planner, teacher, or even any well-meaning child. This is a reason to doubt whether other rubrics are flouted at this parish.

2) The quality of religious education at this school is called into question. Clearly, the students are not being given a proper instruction in the Sacrifice of the Mass. I wonder about the level of catechesis. According to its website, the tuition and fees for one child amount to more than $3,500 per year. I would want a Catholic school to teach Catholicism in any event, but I definitely wouldn’t pay money for it to teach a different faith.

3) This isn’t a story that required investigative reporting to crack. The school and the Archdiocesan Education Office published it willingly, indicating they see no problem with allowing, teaching and encouraging liturgical dance to school children.

Historically, Catholic parents scrimped and saved to send their children to Catholic schools to ensure a Catholic formation for their children. There are many reasons for the decline in Catholic school enrollment, but the lack of a solid Catholic formation is one of them. I was very disappointed with this story.