Monday, November 8, 2010


Due to the generosity of some parishioners who had tickets that they could not use my sister and I were able to attend to the Akron Symphony this Saturday past. We got dressed up a little bit, me being in clerics – the perfect black outfit that fits in just about everywhere except canoeing.

At intermission we got a cup of coffee (it was a long day and I needed the shot of caffeine for the second half though it was a highly enjoyable evening) and we took a seat at one of the café tables in the lobby. Half way through the conversation my sister looks ever at me with a strained smile and asks, “Does it bother you that everyone looks at you?”

To tell the truth, I don’t even really see it anymore. Perhaps that is why priest’s view of the world can be a bit skewed from everyone else. When I wear my clerics people are more apt to smile and wave – after a while you just take it as normal and assume everyone is like this.

I was walking with both of my sisters in downtown Cleveland a few years back and one of them commented, “Everyone is just being so nice and waving and . . .” the she was shot with a ray from Dr. Horrible’s realization gun and said in an icy tone, “Oh. I’m with you.”

For one reason or another I might be walking down the street or some such place without my collar on and I am still waving and smiling at people and they look at me sideways and give cautious waves back. Then it will hit me: Oh. I don’t have my collar on today. They just think that I’m some strange, overly friendly person.

There’s no real point to this story and to further have no point here is one more clerics story. About twice a year my Mom buys me a nice present for no particular reason. Now, realize that my Mother died a good number of years ago but God bless her she still buys me presents and has the uncanny ability to read my mind and know exactly what I want.

Not too long I decided – er – I mean my Mom decided that I should have clerics that actually fit me. I have monkey arms and unfortunately if you are tall those who make men’s shirts almost invariably assume that you are also rather large. So I suffer from either shirts that have short sleeves or are extremely blowsy. So I saved up some money and went to a tailor. I was measured, picked out the material and the style, and waited.


Then my shirts came in. They are great and I really like them. The shocker though after all that was too look at the tag in the collar under the label that said, “Custom Made.” It was said simply, “Made in China.”


Matt W said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pat said...


One day, please explain the purpose of the cassock and why--nowadays--some priests, like yourself and Fr. Pf., don't mind being seen in them.

And thank you to ALL priests who wear their clerics in public.

Margaret C. said...

Thanks for a column that erased my Monday morning blues! Truth with a smile. I can just imagine the waving episodes.

MJ said...

Funny, but my best friend L.'s husband buys her wonderful gifts on birthdays, Christmas etc. L.'s husband has also died a number of years ago but she has been known to get some nice pieces of jewelry from him ;-)

Anonymous said...

Please don't stop wearing them.
All the priests here if I hadn't known who they were, I wouldn't have recognized them in public. I do realize that y'all don't always wear them but I have NEVER seem them wear them in public here. And I am glad they don't cause you any grief either.

Patty said...


Your comments about people being friendly and waving reminded me of the two years I lived in East Tennessee. It was normal to say smile and greet whoever crossed your path. I'm not sure what effect your clerics would have in the south though; Catholics are a very small (1-2%) minority there. It was culture shock when I returned to Ohio. I got some wierd looks from folks when I smiled and said hi to everyone.

God bless you for wearing your clerics in public. We need more priests who are willing to make a public witness of their faith by donning the Roman collar.

Nan said...

In Russia, my priest friend, when in his Cassock, immediately went to the head of the line. For everything. He wasn't dressed like a priest when we venerated St. Spyridon's relics, but our tour guide asked the guards to let us in because we were visiting, he's a priest, and we would have no other opportunity. We went with the next group.

Augustina said...

We use to have a particular priest visit us from time to time. Upon his second visit of not wearing his collar, I said to him, "Father, you know you are welcome here any time, but this is the second time you have visited wearing no collar. We ask that when you come here, you wear your collar. Why do you lower yourself to our level? Are you ashamed, embarrassed to wear your clerics? We need to see a priest look like a priest. If a man walking down the street all of a sudden fell over from a heart attack, and your farther down the road not wearing your clerics, how would anyone know you were a priest, to where they could call you to assist this man?" He responded with a chuckle. Since then he has never returned.