Dear Catholic Priests,Let me start by saying – thank you.
Thank you. For hearing the call to priesthood and then for following through to devote your life to god and the Church.
Really, I know I don’t say this nearly enough – Thank you.
I tend to be a Catholic who never interacts with priests (seriously – never). I never talk to priests outside of a confessional (and rarely there), mostly because I am scared of you and unlike some people I know I am not adept at making friends with priests through baked goods. But even so, I really do appreciate all that you do.
However, I do have a request. Can you please, please, please wear clerical clothing?
And no, a golf shirt with the name of your order embroidered on it does not count.
I won’t be greedy and ask for cassocks (though that is what all the cool priests are wearing). Just a Roman Collar would be good.
Now, I understand that everyone needs some time ‘out of uniform’ as it were. Running errands, family social events, and casual time off – perfectly reasonable to not be wearing a collar.
However, is it too much to ask that at Church functions you wear a collar and clearly identify yourself as a priest?
There are certainly benefits to wearing a clerical collar. I know that I am naturally nicer and more automatically respectful to priests. For example, one day at work I saw a slightly bewildered looking priest who was clearly lost in the maze that is O’Hare. I walk past many lost and confused people at O’Hare all the time but that collar ensured that I stopped and helped him to his gate.
Also, if there is an emergency, it would be nice to know if there is a priest around. That Roman Collar is a clear sign to those all around that God is present in his servant the priest. That can be incredibly comforting, even when you as a priest don’t even realize that people around you are taking comfort in that fact.
Priests in clerical garb are also excellent for recruitment - both to the Church and to the priesthood. I mean, if young boys and men never see a priest except at the front of the church then how can they envision living life as a priest. We as lay people need to see and know that there are priests out in society, living with us wherever we are. So often we live in a society that denies the importance of religion and faith. A priest dressed in clerical garb is a bold statement to the world that Yes – the Catholic Church is still here, vibrant and contributing to our society. I really think that is an important statement for a priest to make, and clerical clothing makes it without saying a word.
I can’t quite figure out why priests wouldn’t wear a collar. Are you ashamed of being a priest? Do you want to ‘blend in’ with the group? Or, as my sister in law theorizes, is it to be deceitful and try to trip us up by masquerading as lay people (I don’t think that is the case, but she is adamant).
I will say this to all the priests out there. When I see you in clerical clothing it personally makes me happy. I just feel comforted by the very fact that you are there, in the world. So please, please, please do wear clerical clothing. It really is a good thing.