Senior prom. It's a rite of passage for high school students all over the country. For many of them, it is the most important night of their young lives-a night NOT to be missed. What happens then, when the prom is on the same night as the most solemn, sacred day of the Orthodox Church year? That's the problem two young men were faced with earlier this year. Michael Stan, a senior, and Peter Stan, a junior, are members of St. Nicholas Church in Warren, Ohio. They and their family discovered in January of this year that their high school's Junior-Senior prom was going to take place on Orthodox Good Friday! Certainly, this is a position that no young person should be put into, and a choice that they shouldn't have to make.
According to Jennifer Brainard, Michael and Peter's mother, attempts were made to try and rectify the situation. They were told the school couldn't possibly change the date because of contracts with the banquet hall and DJ. "We proceeded to call these businesses to see if they could move the date to the following week. They both said "yes" but the school still would not co-operate. My husband went to the school board and explained the difficult situation the boys were in. Holy Friday is the most strict day of the year and the boys were faced with choosing their Orthodox faith...or attending their prom which is an important part of high school and a huge memory." All the school would tell them was that it would never happen again in the future.
Jennifer said they would not tell the boys what to do. While they offered their advice, it was ultimately their decision, and they would support whatever they decided. All they required of the boys was that if they went to prom, they had to go to Church first and they could not break the fast.
Anyone would've understood if Michael and Peter ended up at the prom with their friends. But, they chose to NOT attend. They chose to keep Good Friday as it is meant to be kept-holy.
One might assume that it was an easier decision for Peter. Being a Junior, he would still have next year. It is easy to see from the following quote though, that Peter's motivation was entirely different. "I thought to myself, 'how could I enjoy myself with my friends knowing that Christ hung on the cross on that same day?' The answer was that I couldn't."
When we think of the word martyr, we think of those who literally gave their lives for their faith. It is important to remember though, that martyr comes from the Greek word for witness. That is exactly what Michael and Peter did. They were witnesses for their faith. In this way, they are great examples for other young people about the importance of standing up for Christ and letting people know about the importance of your faith.
Michael summed it this way: "I think that the Orthodox Church is the worlds Biggest Best Kept Secret. It's times like this when we as Orthodox Christians can speak out and make people aware of our faith. If it weren't for this incident, I doubt that half of Champion High School would have even heard of the Orthodox Church. I know for sure that my senior prom night will never be forgotten."