A guide to Mary’s Day 2023: navigating uncharted waters


Ellen Dieteman and Alicia Gonzalez

This year marks the first time Mary’s Day, a long-cherished tradition at Villa Maria Academy, will be celebrated at Cathedral Prep. With the recent consolidation of the two campuses, this is the first time the male students and Prep teachers will celebrate (as well as the Class of 2026). Despite some changes to the festivities, the tradition will continue to live on.

Celebrations begin with the selection of the Mary’s Day Court. Around five young women from the senior class that best represent the qualities of Mary are chosen by their classmates and teachers with one being the May Queen. This year, around five boys of similar quality, will be chosen as escorts, harkening back to tradition when young men attended Villa Maria Academy. Being a part of the court is an honor and a great send off for senior year.

Leading up to the day, students write letters to teachers and classmates, reminiscing on the times spent together (more on that later). Students volunteer to sort the letters, based on the recipient’s activity group room.

The day celebrates Mary, the mother of God, and the example she set. On Mary’s Day (this year May 24), students arrive and assemble to watch tributes to the senior class and listen to a distinguished alumnus that speaks to the entire student body. After the first assembly students return to their designated classroom to read the letters others have written to them while enjoying breakfast. The second assembly involves the presentation of the court, prayer, and a speech by the May Queen. The most important part of the day is the crowning of Mary, in which the May Court (and their escorts) honor Mary through prayer and reflection, and the May Queen places a flower crown upon the head of the Mary statue.

Below are recommendations to ensure the celebration runs as it is intended:


1. Don’t Wear White

It is a long-standing tradition that only the Mary’s Day court wears white. Both the ladies and their escorts will be adorned in their graduation/formal attire, which is a white gown or blazer. Wearing white symbolizes purity and is one way the court stands out. Gentlemen, while it is classic to wear a white button-down and colorful tie, it would interfere with the uniqueness of the court. Instead a colorful or patterned button-down would better incorporate spring colors and complement the cheerful mood of the day. Have your outfit prepared and ready to go. Shop well in advance! There can be limited options locally that fit your style, so don’t forget about online options.

2. Be Modest

The focus of the day should ultimately be on Mary and the gifts she has bestowed. For ladies and gentlemen alike, it is important that you look your best in the most respectful manner. The formal ceremony can best be honored when the focus is at the right place. Therefore, modesty should be observed both in manner and in dress. Ultimately, the day is not about how we look, as long as we honor Mary our Mother. Remember, modest is hottest! Wear formal attire appropriate for church, as this year it will be held in St. Peter’s Cathedral.


1. Effort

A large component of the social aspect of Mary’s Day is the letter writing and receiving process. A general list with room numbers is emailed to the school making all those available to write to. You can write to teachers, administrators, staff, and/or fellow students. In order to make the day special for everyone, letter writing is crucial. It is a way to express words that would otherwise go unsaid in a personal manner. It is better to write more than one thinks they should. Often, more people will write to you than you expect. Take the time to thank and recognize the people involved in the day-to-day aspect of one’s life; it will make the day even more special. It is also wise to start the letter writing process sooner rather than later as well. Each letter requires heartfelt effort so that it takes longer than one would expect. Often one receives more letters than they write, so it is best to allot time to write the most meaningful letters. Writing early also lessens the burden of the card sorters and those in Campus Ministry. They are appreciative when cards come in at a manageable rate to avoid the flurry of cards that are sent at the last minute that have to be sorted with a quick turnaround.

2. Behavior

The partaking of such a cherished event calls for conduct and maturity. While the first assembly is more lax and lighthearted, the second is about honoring Mary, our mother, and the conduct should reflect such. Remember to be respectful and reverent of the occasion. But also take the time to enjoy the day, especially seniors! This is one of your last chances to spend time with your classmates before graduation. Soak it all in. Send kind letters to your classmates and teachers, and enjoy reading the letters you receive in return. Let your emotions flow. Crying is normal (and encouraged). Don’t worry, tissues will be on hand and passed out by Mr. Bell.

Students in the coming weeks will be presenting PowerPoints for each grade level explaining Mary’s Day further and reminding others of the list above. Emails will also be sent out with information about volunteering to help with coordinating and planning the day itself. Campus ministry will also be in touch, informing students on where to drop off letters and when the deadline to submit letters is. To ensure the day runs smoothly it is crucial that everyone is on the same page, ready to celebrate Mary.

For further information, Campus Minister, Mrs. Emily Grenci can be reached at [email protected].