Patti Murphy Dohn serves as Campus Minister for The John Carroll School in Bel Air, MD. Committed to making a difference in the lives of our youth and their families, she has served the school community since 1981.  She serves on the Screening Board for the Archdiocesan Office of Vocations and is a former board member for the Msgr. O'Dwyer Retreat House in Sparks, MD. 

She can be reached at:


April 2014
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I have so enjoyed reading these blog entries. What a trip!


Please pray for me to pass the Midwifery exam on april 27 to 28. I hope i could understand and answer all the questioner with the holy spirit. I know God is ther for us. In godss grace I will pass. Amen

God is in the clouds

Buon giorno, Italia Day 7: When in Rome....

My first visit to the Vatican:

There are not enough words in the English language to describe how excited I was about being at the Vatican for the first time on Wednesday .... A fantastic day to cap off a perfect week.

At the Pontifical North American College with Baltimore seminarian Kevin Ewing before the papal audience.

George and I headed out bright and early to the Pontifical North American College to connect with Baltimore seminarian Kevin Ewing. We then walked down to St. Peter's Square where we had spectacular seats for Pope Francis' Wednesday Audience.

Finally seeing Pope Francis:

I was able to get near the front barricade and get some perfect photos at the barricade before the elevated papal stage. Praise God. The Holy Father circled in front of me **three** times in the Popemobile before his audience began. Wow. Speechless...

Pope Francis on popemobile

The second time he came round, I watched him let the two young boys into the Popemobile for a ride. How adorable. And hearing the English language commentator announce "The John Carroll School from Bel Air, Maryland" was just great!!

Vatican tour:

Afterward, George and I rejoined our JC group for a tour of the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Basilica. Again, there are no words to adequately describe the feeling of being in the Sistine Chapel. It was quite a sacred time as we gazed on the paintings and frescos. The creation of man was perhaps the one that most affected me. I couldn't stop looking back up at it.

And then to enter St. Peter's Basilica for the first time and see so many of the images that I have studied and taught.... Spectacular.

The Pieta by Michelangelo.

Praying in St. Peter's Basilica at the burial place of Blessed Pope John Paul II who will be canonized next Sunday.

Setting up for the Holy Thursday Chrism Mass in St. Peter's Basilica after the Wednesday Audience concluded just outside.

Vatican Museum:

Vatican Museum

Oldest tapestry on display at the Vatican Museum is over 500 years old.

On the way out, we took photos in St. Peter's Square and headed out to get the JC kids more gelato. They have enjoyed it at least once each day.

We headed to dinner where there was a lesson in making the perfect pizza.

Emily (left) and Micaela
 The Kern Family: Jeff, Emily, Roxanne

Señora Michael and Lily

Avery, McKenna, Eleanor, Rachel, Noelle, and Madysen

Next came an evening bus/walking tour of Rome, and then on to making our wishes at the famous Trevi Fountain before heading back to our hotel so the students could pack up,

The sad point in this most memorable day was saying "Arrivederci" to my students and friends who would depart for home at 4 a.m. Thursday morning.

George and I are extending our stay in Rome for five days at a hotel near St. Peter's Square. There is so much left for us to see. But we will cover a few of those places without my students.

Until tomorrow, ciao from Roma!!


April 17, 2014 05:33
By Patti Murphy Dohn

Buon giorno, Italia Day 6: All roads lead to Rome

On the Sorrento peninsula road to the marina for our boat ride to the isle of Capri.

After five glorious days of sunshine, we awakened on Tuesday to dark skies and a forecast of rain. Heading to the Sorrenro harbor after breakfast for our boat ride to the isle of Capri, we hoped the rain would hold off.

At the Port of Sorrento: Marina Grande: From left: Annelise, Abbey,  Michaela, Patrick,  Amanda, Eleanor with Azmara ship in background: Lilly at bottom. 

It held off until we disembarked, but then we got drenched wherever we happened to be at the time. Part of our group joined tour director Thomas Randall from ACIS and hiked upward toward the Villa Jovis, the island home of Emperor Tiberius on Capri.

The main altar at the Cattedrale di San Stefano (St. Stephen Cathedral) with crucifix covered for Holy Week 

 Blessed Sacrament Chapel at the Cattedrale di San Stefano on the Isle of Capri.

A few others enjoyed free time at a slower pace. My husband and I headed to the beautiful Cattedrale di San Stefano (Cathedral of Saint Stephen) before the driving rain "encouraged" us to have lunch at the nearest restaurant with a water view window, the Ristaurante Longano near the Piazza Umberton Capri.

Lunch at the Ristaurante Longano near the Piazza Umberton on Capri:

Paella alla Valenciala (tbottom) and Risotto alla pescatoro (top).

My favorite respite in Italia? Cappuccino, of course. A cafe near the marina presented this lovely treat for us before my husband and I joined the group to depart Capri from Naples on the next boat.


Disembarking from the ferry at the Port of Napoli at Molo Beverello, we headed back to our motorcoach and headed to The Eternal City:

All roads lead to Rome:

  Port at Napoli before heading to Roma

I'm hoping to see Papa Francesco for the first time at the Wednesday Audience. Praise God, I have tickets.


April 16, 2014 05:58
By Patti Murphy Dohn

Buon giorno, Italia Day 5: Visiting Pompeii and on the road to Sorrento

After a wonderful experience of faith and tranquility in the Franciscan holy city, we headed out on Monday morning for a drive from Assisi in the region of Umbria (whose capital is Perugia), across the Appanine Mountains, passing through the region of Lazio, toward the Bay of Naples and Campania (capital Napoli/Naples) for an afternoon in Pompeii. 

Naples is known for the world's best and freshest mozzarella: "mozzarella bufala Campania." 
Good cheeses, wines, and bread are basic staples to accompany fine dining throughout Italia.

The scavi at Pompeii:

We have learned that meals are meant to be eaten leisurely with much conversation and interaction with family and friends. So our first stop was lunch before our scavi tour of Pompeii. 

Eleanor, Micaela, Amanda 

Annalise, Emily, Lilly 

It was an insightful experience to hear in-person about the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and the many thousands who perished from the effects of the gases released, as well as the stone, ash, and debris released by the explosion of this volcano in 79 AD. So much of the remains of Pompeii were well-preserved as uncovered by the excavations.

The John Carroll group at the ruins in Pompeii.

Our tour director suggested that we read the novel "Pompeii" by Robert Harris to learn even more about the volcano that buried Pompeii and nearby Herculaneum before the lava went into the Gulf of Naples. The people didn't know what a volcano was and didn't understand the warning sulfuric odor as it smelled like rotten eggs. 

Pompeii with Mount Vesuvius in the background

Toward the Sorrento coast:


On the road to Sorrento

Afterward we headed through the Appanine Mountains toward Sorrento. 

It was an incredibly beautiful drive with umbrella pines (pini marini), olive tree groves, and flowering wisteria everywhere. The area is known for their lemons, oranges, and olives. Some of the lemons were as big as soccer balls. 

We rode past the ancient Appian Way where the umbrella pines on both sides lined the road from Rome to Pompeii. As we approached the peninsula with Sorrento on one side and Amalfi on the other, we were delighted with the breathtaking views of the coastline, the lush flowers and landscape, and the beautiful beaches along the way.

Sunshine in a perfect location:

As we checked into the Hotel Mary in Vico Equense, located on a cliff overlooking the beach, boats, and sea on this perfect sunny day, we had some free time before dinner where we would watch the sun set in front of us over the water.

Sunset from the dining room of the Hotel Mary in the Sorrento town of Vico Equense

After dinner we explored the town of Sorrento for shopping, dessert and cappuccino in small cafés, and taking in the sights and sounds of this beautiful place. I found a little formerly-used chapel on one of the small side streets that was holding a sacred art exhibit for Holy Week. Coming upon it fifteen minutes before closing, I was delighted to be able to walk around and take photos. 

Tuesday is going to be a busy day with a trip to the isle of Capri. We enjoyed our hotel balcony overlooking the water below before getting a good night sleep. Everyone is tired and happy. The pace has been busy to fit in as much as possible during the week tour. All of us can sleep when we get home.

God is good!!

April 16, 2014 05:50
By Patti Murphy Dohn

Buon Giorgio, Italia Day 4 from Assisi: Walking in the footsteps of St. Francis

Farewell to Florence:

John Carroll took Florence by storm on Friday and Saturday, enjoying the sites, sounds, and shopping, along with the great food and live music in all the piazzas. It was a bit of a luxury to be in the same place for two nights, as living out of a suitcase from town to town is pretty challenging.

After breakfast on Sunday morning, we hit the road and headed for the hills of Umbria to the medieval town of Assisi, best remembered as the home of the gentle saint for whom our Holy Father took his papal name.

Basilica di Santa Chiara (Saint Claire)

I have looked forward to the possibility of visiting Assisi all my life, and it was pretty overwhelming to think that this "pilgrimage day" was finally here. As our motor coach drove up the country roads of Umbria approaching the Franciscan Holy City, I felt truly joyous.

Peace and prayer in Assisi:

Having three unstructured hours during the day, my husband and I joined our other faculty to explore the amazing Assisi basilicas of Saints Claire and Francis, dine at a local cafe, and browse through some of the numerous small shops. I asked several merchants if they saw Pope Francis when he visited last year. The first lady I asked lit up and quickly showed me her small wooden cross which was blessed by the Holy Father who went right past the front of her shop.

How wonderful!!

Lunch at an Assisi cafe: (from left) Lindsey, Rachel, Bethany, and Emily

We soon after made new friends with the husband-wife owners of the wonderful Annamaria DiCosta Shop with beautifully designed jewelry and other handmade items on Via San Paolo. Anna also offers a wide variety of sewn, embroidered, and handcrafted cloth and fabric items. I bought a beautiful flowered tote bag, we chatted and exchanged photos, and they shared with us the pictures they took of Pope Francis during his October 2013 visit to Assisi. How fantastic!!

We loved meeting Anna and her husband at their Annamaria DiCosta Shop ( with personally designed jewelry and handmade fabric items on Via San Paolo.

Remembering prayer intentions:

Approaching the Basilica di San Francesco in Assisi

The highlight was praying at the tomb of Saint Francis: I will never forget that for as long as I live ... Remembering the intentions of family and fiends, my students and their families, my associates at John Carroll and the Catholic Review, and in a very special way, my Franciscan friends and their families and ministries. Powerful intercessions from this holy, much loved saint.

Praying at the burial of San Francesco in the crypt area of the basilica

Several JC students and I chatted at the portico by the Basilica di San Francesco with Indonesian Sisters who were now working in Italy.

Our John Carroll group at the portico outside the Basilica di San Francesco in Assisi.

We later had a very comfortable stay in the lower part of town by the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, which we visited in the late afternoon while many of the kids caught up on Wifi in the hotel lobby.

Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli in the lower town of Assisi

After dinner at the lovely Hotel Cristallo, which was spacious with gorgeous balcony views of Assisi, my husband and I returned to Assisi with English Chair Christine Zurkowski and her husband for a quick last visit. The upper town and churches had cleared out completely and it seemed that we had the entire place to ourselves.

Basilica di San Francesco in Assisi at night: Palm Sunday 2014.

So spiritual and peaceful, with full moonlight.... Again, I'll never forget it.

Next stop:

After a wonderful day and night in this peaceful oasis, we are heading south on Monday morning toward the Bay of Naples to visit Pompei. Then onto the Sorrento coast for dinner and overnight.

Arriverderci from Assisi: I will talk to you tomorrow from Sorrento!!

April 14, 2014 11:09
By Patti Murphy Dohn

"Buon giorno, Italia" Journal Day 3 from Florence, city of faith and fashion

Greetings from Florence (Firenze), the capital city of Tuscany. We arrived here last night just in time for dinner and some quick explorations around town in foot under the beautiful moonlight. Our weather has been perfect, thanks be to God!!
Here are some photos which include our Friday evening overview and full day visit on Saturday. 

Friday night: 

 The Duomo at night under beautiful moon 

 Palazzo Vecchio 

Gelato fun: At Gelateria GROM in Florence 
From left: Makda, Annelise, and Emily 

Saturday explorations:

The Final Judgment fresco at il Duomo

Known commonly as the Duomo (Il Duomo di Firenze), the Basilica-Cathedral di Santa Maria del Fiore (Saint Mary of the Flowers) is the Gothic-style main church of the Archdiocese of Florence and one of Italy's largest churches. The current archbishop is Giuseppe Betori. 

Did you know that Pinocchio was written in Florence?

The children's story "The Adventures of Pinocchio" (1883) was written by Carlo Collodi, a Florentine. Rachel gave us some chuckles this morning at a small shop in Florence.

Katie, Makda, and Patrick modeled leather jackets after a presentation on the leather goods available from Florence.

Exhausted from an afternoon shopping and dining in Florence, these JC students shared their best deals before we headed in to the Vigil Mass for The Passion of our Lord (Palm/Passion Sunday) at the Duomo.

Tomorrow we depart for Assisi. I am so looking forward to walking where St. Francis walked. Ciao!!

April 13, 2014 08:13
By Patti Murphy Dohn

Buon giorno, Italia Day 2: See you again, Venice!!

We had a glorious day on Friday in Venezia (Venice) and then departed for Florence.

See you again:

There is no word for good-bye in the Italian language. "Arrivederci" is used  often and it simply translates "see you again." And having fallen in love today with the beautiful city of Venice, I indeed pray to one day see it again, perhaps for a week or even a month at some future time. 

It was simply picture perfect. With perfect sunny weather, we had an amazing experience exploring the magic that makes up this city on the water. We had an early morning boat ride through the Grand Canal, taking in the breathtaking beauty of the city that was just coming to life. To see in person the sites that are familiar through photographs and movies was spectacular. When we disembarked by the Rialto Bridge, we walked through the narrow streets where merchants were just setting up their stands and the markets were putting out their fresh fish, meat, cheese, fruit, and vegetables. I've never seen so much fresh food as was displayed in the many markets.

Patti Murphy Dohn and Larry Hensley at Rialto Bridge, Grand Canal

Riding on the Grand Canal, one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen.

Other highlights of Friday in Venice included:

The Rialto Bridge on the Grand Canal;
Gondola ride was breath-taking as we saw the sites from the water;
Lunch at Aciugheta Cafe;
Bridge of Sighs as we left St. Mark's Cathedral;
Gelato at La Mila Verde, a favorite of our tour guide Thomas. 


Fun facts on the Church in Venice:

After being previously known as the Diocese of Olivolo or Rialto since 774, and as the Diocese of Castello in 1091, the Archdiocese of Venice (Link:, was established in 1451 and is also known as the Patriarchate of Venice, covering 336 square miles in Veneto. Their archbishop, known as the Patriarch of Venice and traditionally a cardinal, is Cardinal Francesco Moraglia (appointed January, 2012). His predecessor was Cardinal Angelo Scola (2002-2011), who is now the Archbishop of Milan where we landed yesterday.

Most interesting from my research, three Patriarchs of Venice from the past century have been elected pope:

--Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto (1893-1903), who was elected Pope St. Pius X;
--Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli (1953-58), who served as Pope John XXIII (1958-63) and who will be canonized in two weeks on April 27;
--Albino Luciani (1969-78), who took the name Pope John Paul I when he was elected in the August, 1978 conclave after Pope Paul VI died. Sadly, he died just 33 days later. 

JC students enjoying the marketplace before gondola ride

St. Mark's Basilica:

The mother church of the Archdiocese of Venice is the Basilica di San Marco, named for the diocesan patron saint. This evangelist's relics are preserved beneath the altar in the basilica. (The former patron saint of the city was St. Theodore.) I was able to get into the basilica after lunch today and loved seeing the beauty of this spiritual and architectural masterpiece.

Arriving in Florence this evening:

See you tomorrow for our Day 3 of my Italia Journal!!

John Carroll students and faculty at St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice 

The relics of St. Mark are preserved beneath the main altar of the basilica that bears his name in Venice.

April 12, 2014 10:52
By Patti Murphy Dohn

"Buon giorno, Italia" Journal: Day 1

Our John Carroll group departed on a Lufthansa flight from the Philadelphia airport yesterday afternoon for Milan and the start of our week-long Italian tour. 

The brief layover in Frankfurt, Germany gave us a few hours to explore what has been ranked as one of the ten largest airports in the world. Our 70-minute flight to Milan was on a smaller Lufthansa plane. The highlight was flying over the snow-covered Swiss Alps on a clear, sunny noontime. It was simply glorious.

 Some fun facts about our first two stops on Thursday:

We landed in Milan at Italy's largest international airport

1.    The Archdiocese of Milan in northern Italy, encompassing the areas of Milano, Monza, Alecto, and Varese, is the largest diocese in Europe covering over 1600 square miles.

2. Since 2011, Cardinal Angelo Scola has served as the Archbishop of Milano, having previously been the Patriarch of Venice. He was among those considered papable in the March, 2013 conclave that elected Pope Francis.

3. Some of Milan's famous past archbishops include: St. Ambrose, Milan's patron saint (c. 374-397),  St. Charles Borromeo (1560-1584), and Giovanni Battista Montini (1954-63) who served until the 1963 conclave that elected him as Pope Paul VI.

4. Leonardo da Vinci painted The Last Supper (1495-98) (Il Cenacolo), which is housed in the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, a former Dominican monastery.


1.    On the banks of the River Adige midway between Venice and Milan, Verona is the second largest city in the northern region of Italy. It is most notable for being the setting of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

2.    There is a box at the House of Juliet where love-challenged people from around the world leave letters for Juliet. A team of volunteers reply to every letter received. Nonpaying internships are available for anyone wishing to give a two-week to one year commitment to helping the lovelorn in the name of Juliet.

3.    The Diocese of Verona, under the leadership of Bishop Giuseppe Zenti, covers 1180 square miles. The diocesan patron saint is Saint Zeno for whom the local basilica, San Zeno Maggiore or San Zenone, is named.

4.    Pope John Paul II visited Verona in 1988, and Pope Benedict XVI visited in 2006.

5.    The local cathedral, the Duomo, took almost six centuries to build (1386-1965).  It is considered the second largest church in the world, with 135 marble spires, over 2000 statues, and seating for 40,000 people.


We will make our way to Venice this evening for dinner and overnight, exploring that amazing city on the water all day Friday.

Arrividerci from Verona!! 

April 11, 2014 09:15
By Patti Murphy Dohn

Buon giorno, Italia!! A preview to our whirlwind tour of Italy with the Sacred Triduum at the Vatican

Europe, here we come:

After months of waiting and planning, my first trip to Europe starts tomorrow. And quite perfectly, it comes less than two weeks after my husband retired from more than 48 years in the work force. A wonderful time to celebrate.

Actually George has been to Europe three times and has visited a number of countries, but he has never been to Italy. So this is a great opportunity for both of us. In Italy for twelve days, we will be on a John Carroll tour the first week, followed by five extra days in Rome during the Sacred Triduum through Easter Monday. Our hotel is on the edge of St. Peter’s Square so you just know that I will be trying regularly to get glimpses of the Holy Father!!

“Buongiorno Italia:”

ACIS, a “leader in quality educational travel,” has hosted John Carroll tours in Europe for over 30 years. George and I will join their “Buongiorno Italia” experience for seven days. Along with 21 JC students, 4 relatives, and three of my closest friends on staff—Guidance counselor Larry Hensley, English chairperson Christine Zurkowski, and Spanish teacher Jane Michael—we will depart tomorrow afternoon from Philadelphia airport.

ACIS provides learning objectives for each of their tours. Here are the objectives for “Buongiorno Italia:”

1. Students will gain an overview of contemporary Italian society, learning to understand the North-South divide and the effect of regionalism on the current political landscape;

2. Students will explore the Italian architectural evolution from Byzantine Venice to the Renaissance Duomo in Florence to the Baroque colonnades of St. Peter's Square in Rome;

3. Students will learn what life was like during the height of the Roman Empire through experiences in the Colosseum and Pompeii.


Here’s a look at our itinerary for the first week:

Wednesday, April 9:

Overnight flight from Philadelphia to Milan through Frankfurt, Germany;

Thursday, April 10: Milan to Verona to overnight in Venice:

Arrive in Milan, and meet your tour manager. Drive to Verona, the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and admire its classic architecture. Dinner in Verona before continuing to Venice for the overnight. 

Friday, April 11: St. Mark’s Square and Basilica, Venice, to overnight in Florence:

Experience Venice’s unique beauty this morning when you ride along the Grand Canal past singing gondoliers and colorful façades. Cross under the Rialto Bridge before arriving at St. Mark’s Square to see the Byzantine architecture of the Basilica of St. Mark and the Bridge of Sighs. Later drive south to Florence, the Cradle of the Renaissance.

Saturday, April 12: All day and overnight in Florence:

Sightseeing with a local guide providing commentary via personal headsets introduces you to the Duomo, Piazza della Signoria, and the Ponte Vecchio. In the afternoon you may choose to partake in an optional Tuscan cooking lesson as you help Tuscany’s finest chefs prepare traditional meals before sampling the delicious results. Otherwise, why not visit the Pitti Palace and stroll through the Boboli Gardens? After dinner see the statues of the Loggia dei Lanzi illuminated in the Piazza della Signoria or sample gelato at Vivoli.

Palm (Passion) Sunday, April 13: Tuscany to Umbria to all afternoon and overnight in Assisi:

Depart Tuscany for Umbria in the morning, and arrive in Assisi in time to find lunch in its quaint town center. Visit the incredible Basilica of St. Francis, home to Giotto’s famous frescoes, and learn about St. Francis' founding of the Franciscan Friars. Later indulge your sweet tooth during a gelato factory visit and tasting. See how the famous Italian-style ice cream is produced and discover your favorite flavor during a tasting.

Monday of Holy Week, April 14: Assisi to Pompeii to dinner and overnight in Sorrento:

Journey south toward the Bay of Naples and visit Pompeii. As your local guide provides commentary over personal headsets, learn how this famous city was perfectly preserved when the eruption of Mount Vesuvius covered it in ash in 79 AD. See the villas of ancient Roman holiday-makers and the chariot-grooved cobblestone streets. Continue to the Sorrento coast for dinner.

Tuesday of Holy Week, April 15: Sorrento to Capri to dinner and overnight in Rome:

You may choose an optional morning visit to the island of Capri. Enjoy spectacular views of the sea as you wander through twisting lanes and shop in the tiny artisan stores that line the square. Otherwise, spend time exploring the citrus groves and waterfront of Sorrento before journeying north to Rome in time for dinner.

Wednesday of Holy Week, April 16: All day and overnight in Rome, including the Colosseum and the Vatican:

This morning, see the famous Colosseum, a nearly two thousand year old Roman emblem. Afterwards, your sightseeing tour introduces you to every phase of Rome’s legendary history with a panoramic drive of the city. In addition, your local guide accompanies you through the incomparable Vatican Museums, including Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, and continues to St. Peter’s Basilica, giving commentary via personal headsets. This evening you may opt to partake in a pizza making lesson and dinner. Learn how to create a perfect pie and work in teams to assemble and cook your own authentic, brick-oven pizza. After dinner join your tour manager to mingle with locals in lively Piazza Navona, then see the Pantheon and obelisk-topped fountain in Piazza della Rotunda.

Holy Thursday, April 18:

The John Carroll group departs for home early that morning.

My husband George and I will then check into the Palazzo Cardinal Cesi on Via della Conciliazione at St. Peter’s Square before heading to the Chrism Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica.

About our hotel:

The Palace was built in 1400 and was bought by Cardinal Pierdonato Cesi who had it restructured and refurbished, turning it into an antiques and art museum, and installing a well-endowed library. Today, the Generalate of the Salvatorians has converted part of the building into an elegant and exclusive “welcoming home,” with 30 rooms.

Excited to visit and worship at the Vatican:

George and I are looking forward to seeing the Sistine Chapel and all the Vatican sites on our own. We are planning to visit the three other major Roman basilicas and a few other special places are on our list.

We hope to get caught up in the pre-canonization excitement for Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. What a great time to be at the Vatican!!

Each day I will post photos and an update. Watch for my "Buon giorno, Italia Journal.”

Please pray for us as we will pray for you. Many thanks!!

April 08, 2014 02:45
By Patti Murphy Dohn

"Prom?" The promposal and creative ways to ask your date to the big night

Prom season has started!!

Saturday night was the annual John Carroll Senior Prom. The Class of 2014 did something new this year. They chartered the "Spirit of Baltimore" and cruised from the Inner Harbor and past the Key Bridge for a night of dancing under the stars on the water. The weather was beautiful, though chilly, and there were plenty of great photos.

The Promposal:

Times have changed drastically.

The high school senior prom is still an exciting night of glamour with lots of dancing and staying up all night. But the biggest change is the creative ways our young people ask each other to be their date on this memorable night of nights.

There are lots of articles and photos on the internet that share ideas for our high school students to surprise their prospective dates.

It's not your parents' verbal invite anymore....

I asked the John Carroll seniors about their "promposals" and got some fascinating stories.


A hiking surprise:

Emily told me that she had "the most adorable story" to share with me. When we caught up a few days later, she told me how her boyfriend Jordan asked her on a "surprise date." He said that it would not be like their normal dates of dinner or a movie, and she was to wear older clothes that could get dirty or muddy. Emily's curiosity was piqued.

Jordan picked her up from badminton practice and drove her to the secret location, which turned out to be Susquehanna State Park where they would go hiking. Emily shared that it was a beautiful early spring day and she thought the surprise was going hiking.
But when they got close to the top of the trail, Jordan surprised Emily with a sunset picnic overlooking the clearing and the river. With the beautiful view and sunset, accompanied by Emily's favorite foods, Jordan asked her to the prom.
They don't have any photos of this well-planned promposal because one of the rules when they hiked was no phones so they can enjoy the beauty of the nature.

Emily shared a few photos they took on a previous hike at Kilgore Falls when it snowed.



Pizza promposal:

Catherine emailed and told me that "Camillo asked me to prom in the cutest way!"
Camillo, whose family owns several Italian restaurants in Bel Air, including a pizza place, took Catherine out to dinner to the Fortunato’s in Bel Air where the waiter brought out a pizza that said "PROM" on it with the Vineyard Vines whale logo. Catherine also got roses and chocolates as well. She was delighted.


D.C. dessert:

Julia told me that she recently took her boyfriend to Washington, DC for the day. Since it was his first time going, they did all the things he wanted to do, including going to the wax & spy museums. At the end of lunch when Julia's boyfriend ordered dessert, it came out saying "Prom?" on top. She was pleased with the big surprise.


A golf match:

Gianna told me that her boyfriend Brian greatly surprised her when he asked her to prom on her birthday. After having birthday dinner with her family, Brian left for home. Shortly thereafter, the doorbell rang and Gianna's Dad called for her to answer the door. She didn't see anyone there, but at closer look, there was Brian in her front yard with "PROM?” spelled out in golf balls. He was holding a sign that read, “You’re up to PAR, will you go to prom with me?”


Beary clever:

Devin told me that he went to Build-A-Bear and made a teddy bear that, when its hand was pressed, said in Devon’s voice, "Madysen, will you go to prom with me?"


That takes the cake:

Another Emily told me that she asked her boyfriend to prom by getting him a fish with the attached note "Out of all the fish in the sea, will you go to prom with me?"
Sadly, the fish died, so Emily baked him a cake this time saying "Let’s try this again... Prom?"


Fashionably asked:

Meredith shared that Michael asked her to prom at the Parent Association-sponsored Fashion Show at school on March 9. As Meredith walked down the runway modeling an outfit, the Moms in the audience started laughing. She told me that she thought they were laughing at her and that something was going wrong. When she turned around, Michael was standing at the back of the stage with a big smile holding a sign with photos of them and the message “PROM?” in the middle.

Meredith assured me that she was relieved about the cause of all the laughter and definitely said Yes!!


Chalking it up:

Karly told me that she wrote "prom" in chalk in her driveway when her boyfriend Thomas was coming over to surprise him. I was the one who was surprised when she shared the photo with me. That must have taken all day to do!!


Karly and Thomas' (on left) promposal is above; Kaley and Jae's stories are below.


Part 1: Lighting the way:

Kaley told me how she was supposed to see her boyfriend Jae, a 2011 JC grad, after a long weekend Footloose practice in February, but he put her off that morning and wouldn't confirm the time saying he had “stuff to do.” Feeling like he was blowing her off, Kaley was not in the best of moods during practice. Her Mom texted and asked her to stop at Panera and pick up a baguette on her way home, and then texted several times for her to come home without delay. Kaley shared that as she drove down her street, she could see something glowing near her garage. As she pulled into the driveway, she saw Jae sitting among what turned out to be 400 candles arranged in the shape of “PROM?” Come to find out, he had been secretly planning to surprise her for about a week and her family was helping coordinate times to make sure that Kaley was surprised.

Part 2: Winging it:

Kaley went on to share that since it’s her prom, she wanted to also ask Jae in a creative manner. She explained that most people think that asking someone to prom has to be a big deal, so that’s what she was planning to do until Jae told her that he would prefer something low-key. Since he was preparing to leave soon for a service trip to Panama, Kaley realized she needed to do something quickly. So she picked up his favorite wings on her way over to his house and attached two signs to the container. The one on the outside of the container read “I’ve never done this before, so I’m just gonna wing it…” and the sign on the inside of the container said “Will you go to prom with me?” According to Kaley, they wound up splitting the order of wings, which was good, and Jae said yes to her promposal, which was even better.


“Hey Ho, But I can sing a song…”

Alex asked his girlfriend Annie in a way she will never forget. Annie’s parents did everything they could to delay her from going to work and picking up her paycheck since he had to rush from track practice to get everything he needed for this memorable promposal. When he arrived at her house, he backed his truck into her driveway and quickly put the “PROM?” poster in place and plugged his guitar into the amp before her parents led a confused Annie out of the house. As she rounded the corner to the driveway, Alex started to play their special song “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers. Alex told me that Annie immediately burst into tears and couldn't stop smiling. When he finished playing, Annie jumped up into the truck and gave him a big hug and said  "Yes" through the laughter and the tears of joy. Alex shared that even now Annie still gets tears in her happy eyes when she thinks about it.


Part 1: Praying for (with) a date:

Bearing in mind again that the promposal often goes both ways with both personas inviting the other to the same event, here is Jessie’s story:

Jessica wanted her Calvert Hall boyfriend to ask her to prom even though he doesn’t go to John Carroll. They both attended Mount 2000, the Eucharistic retreat for high school students, over the February 7-9 weekend at Mount St. Mary’s University. Jessie told me that she was not in a good mood on the first evening and when there was a short break after the opening Mass, Patrick asked if she wanted to pray. Now Jess was confused since they had just left the Mass… Pat pulled out his Bible out of his bag and opened it to a page on which he had written the word “Prom?” at the bottom. The next thing out of the bag was a yellow rose. Jessie’s mood was changed immediately!!


Part 2: Now it was Jessie’s turn to give the promposal:

Pat is part of the cast of the musical “Monty Python’s Spamalot” at Calvert Hall which was scheduled for the last weekend of March and the first weekend of April, which just so happens to coincide with Jessie’s prom. Set in medieval times, Pat was cast as a cowardly knight. Jessie joined his family for opening night. Afterwards when she asked him to help her get something from her car, Jessie produced a poem she wrote about medieval times, asking him to be her knight in shining armor. While he read the poem, she produced a Styrofoam sword and a sign with “Willst thou go to prom with me?”

Jessie shared that Pat was particularly selfless when it came to her prom and his show having overlapping dates. When he cast in a lead role after the holidays and found out the conflict with Jessie’s prom, he convinced the theater director to allow him to have an understudy, something that is pretty unusual for Calvert Hall shows. This led to Pat learning two roles for the show—a major and a minor role— so that he and another student shared both roles and performed each one for half of the shows. Jessie was very grateful: “This was a big sacrifice and I just wanted to brag about how wonderful Pat is and how excited I am for this night.”


Another beary clever ask:

Madi asked her boyfriend Ben from Loyola Blakefield to the JC prom in another creative way. She went online and customized a teddy bear that said, "I couldn't bear going to prom without you." With some help from Ben’s mom when he was not home, Madi set up the teddy bear along with balloons and a poster with PROM in lights at the top of his driveway so he would see it when he drove up.


The “heart attack” award goes to…

My final story gets the “heart attack” award:

How do you ask your girlfriend to the prom in a way that is sure to make her scared and crying? Just ask Gus for pointers.

Gus asked his girlfriend Sophia to have dinner at 8:30 on a Sunday night. She was pretty surprised since it was so late on a school night, but she agreed. Gus arrived in his Mom’s Mustang, the first time he was given the keys to her car, so it seemed like a fun occasion just to take be in this nice car. When Gus suggested that they eat at the Green Turtle in White Marsh, Sophia suspected that he might ask her to the prom since she loves turtles so much. But they actually wound up at the Olive Garden and Gus spent much of the evening texting on his phone, checking messages, and what later became clear, stalling for time. Sophia told me that he took 40 minutes just to decide what to order for dinner!! After they finally finished, Gus told her that he wanted to stop somewhere and get ice cream. Again, she was pretty surprised because it was late on a Sunday night. Gus started driving a little fast and Sophia told me that she started lecturing him about slowing down and driving his Mom’s car carefully. She said that Gus in fact started driving too slowly, letting other cars pass him on the road, and then very randomly, he sped up and drove quickly past a police car that was on the side of the road. Lights on, the police officer pulled them over and asked Gus for his license and registration. He also asked Sophia for her license and claimed that he saw her playing with her seat belt when they were being pulled over. She told me that she explained that she left it at home since she was not driving and that she was definitely not playing with her seat belt. When he asked her name, she burst into tears. The officer went to his car and Sophia told me that she sobbed as she chastised Gus for getting them into this mess. When the officer returned, Gus received a warning for speeding. He walked around the other side of the car and handed Sophia a folded citation, telling her to open it to acknowledge receipt. Written at the bottom was the message “Sophia, Gus would like for you to go to the PROM with him. Surprise.” Sophia told me that her tears continued to flow, but now they were happy tears. She found out that the officer was a family friend and that Gus had been texting him throughout the evening as their plan came together.

I assured Sophia that this was definitely the promposal that merited the “heart attack” award!! Poor girl. We had a lot of laughs as she went through the story with me. Gus is lucky that Sophia has a great sense of humor!!


Prom season is now underway:

What are your prom memories?

Let me know your stories.

Email me at:


April 08, 2014 09:27
By Patti Murphy Dohn

Music Monday: A tribute to teachers on the Feast of St. John Baptist de la Salle

“To be entrusted with the teaching of the young is a great gift and grace of God.”

“Young people need the light of watchful guides to lead them on the path of salvation.”  

“Your faith should be a shining light for those whom you teach.”

—Quotes of St. John Baptist de la Salle

Music Monday pays tribute today to our teachers with a special prayer and song.

Today the Church celebrates the feast day of St. John Baptist de la Salle, founder of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, and patron saint of our Catholic schools and our teachers.

“The mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart.”

—Blessed Basil Moreau, CSC, Founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross


Prayer for Teachers:

Lord Jesus, You taught with words and by example—but always with out of love.

Please guide our teachers during this school day and every day to create a positive learning environment for their students.

Give them strength to meet the needs of their diverse learners.

Give them patience when moments are trying.

Give them creativity to develop engaging lessons.

Give them humility to recognize when their students are actually teaching them.

And give them loving hearts so that they may always teach out of love, just as You did, Lord.


--Adapted from 'Prayer for Teachers' by Meredith McCarthy ‘95

“The Notre Dame Book of Prayer”

University of Notre Dame Office of Campus Ministry, Ave Maria Press, 2010 

“Teacher Appreciation” song by Brian Asselin and Eric Disero


"What is nobler than to mold the character of the young? I consider that he who knows how to form the youthful mind is truly greater than all painters, sculptors and all others of that sort.”—St. John Chrysostom

April 07, 2014 09:00
By Patti Murphy Dohn

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