The Roman Collar

After making a hospital last week, I drove to the booth to pay the parking fee.  They young lady at the booth saw my Roman Collar and asked “Is it true that you can’t be married?”  I said, “Yes, I may not be married, but I am married to Jesus and to the Church.”  She responded by saying, “That is beautiful!”.

According to statistics, Rhode Island, my home state is the most Catholic in the United States.  We are “53%”.  That is a bit of a drop since I remember it being about 65% in the past.  However, even with 53% Catholic, maybe 25% of the 53% probably practice the faith by attending Mass weekly.  I would dare to say that most Catholics have an elementary level of Religious Education at best.

My point is this.  Even a young immigrant woman, who came from a Catholic country & culture did not really know that a priest is celibate, she had to ask.  I think that gives more urgency to the New Evangelization, but also to the long practiced forms of evangelization.  I did not say or do anything to make this young woman think, all she had to do was look at me wearing the Roman Collar.

The collar, cassock and Religious habit are strong signs pointing to the Other, namely Christ and His Church.  In fact, the clerical dress is not only a sign telling all who see me who I am, it is a counter cultural sign.  All who see the Roman Collar, the cassock and the Religious habit know we are called to chastity/ celibacy.  They may not know why, but it all points to the kingdom.

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About Fr. Jay Finelli

Father Jay Finelli is a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence in the state of Rhode Island. He is a webmaster, podcaster, and blogger. In his free time, Father is an avid Live Steam enthusiast.

Comments

The Roman Collar — 9 Comments

  1. If I ever win the lottery, I am moving to Rhode Island! I get so tired of fighting for proper liturgy in this diocese (where how the people ‘feel’ about the Mass is more important than doing it right).

  2. Father, I have a question/comment. I was going to email you but I seem to be technologically lacking because I couldn’t find an email address anywhere. I suppose my question relates to this topic in a strange way. I am a new convert to the Catholic faith. I was raised Protestant. I have never stepped foot into Mass without a hat on my head (no one told me to cover, I just knew I had to). Recently I’ve been playing with the idea of wearing a veil (I’ll be honest, it’s just because I’m attracted to the veil) however I’ve been receiving a lot of opposition to this idea. My question isn’t about the veil though. My question is this… why does the Church still retain the tradition that a man cannot wear a covering on his head while praying (when the Bishop came I noticed he removed his head covering before every prayer) and yet the Church has seemed to say that women do NOT have to cover their head when praying. What’s up with that? Why keep one half of the tradition but not the other half?

  3. Father, I have a question/comment. I was going to email you but I seem to be technologically lacking because I couldn’t find an email address anywhere. I suppose my question relates to this topic in a strange way. I am a new convert to the Catholic faith. I was raised Protestant. I have never stepped foot into Mass without a hat on my head (no one told me to cover, I just knew I had to). Recently I’ve been playing with the idea of wearing a veil (I’ll be honest, it’s just because I’m attracted to the veil) however I’ve been receiving a lot of opposition to this idea. My question isn’t about the veil though. My question is this… why does the Church still retain the tradition that a man cannot wear a covering on his head while praying (when the Bishop came I noticed he removed his head covering before every prayer) and yet the Church has seemed to say that women do NOT have to cover their head when praying. What’s up with that? Why keep one half of the tradition but not the other half?

  4. My 5 year old daughter saw a priest out of his collar and asked, “Is Father ______ not a priest today?”

    From the mouth of babes…

  5. Thank you for your Father Finelli reflection on the question of wearing the Roman Collar.

    What is the reason for the use of the Roman collar? It is primarily that of uniform designation. It’s a visual outward sign / symbol of the reality that the person wearing the “collar” has received or is preparing to receive (in the case of many seminarians) the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

    In addition to my ordained ministry (as a deacon), I have a beautiful wife and several children whom I support. Among the various roles I have are; business executive, and Scout leader. Each of my roles requires a different uniform that signifies an outward sign of the reality of my role.

    Some of my business meetings appropriately call for a dress shirt, tie and suit coat & slacks.

    I ordinarily wear a Boy Scout Uniform when attending a Scout meeting.

    When outdoors at Boy Scout Summer Camp, I wear shorts, T-shirt and athletic shoes as I am often coaching, giving instruction or otherwise physically active.

    So it comes naturally for me to wear the clerical suit (Roman Collar) when duty calls for me to operate within a ministerial context. This would include but limited to my public appearances at Churches or other events when I may be introduced as Deacon Gotschall from St. Andrew Catholic Church, meeting with parishioners or inquirers about the Church.

    I recognize differing points of view about the matter and do not intend to speak disrespectfully or disobediently.

    There are many times throughout my ordained life when my simply wearing the Roman collar was a source of comfort and an invitation for the faithful (or confused) to be ministered unto. Strangers approach me because of the Roman Collar and ask a question or request help or to give a comment, or to inquire about the sacraments. If I can be a conduit for others to become closer to Christ if for no other reason then I wore the “advertisement of ministry”, then Thanks be to God.

    Thank you for your vocation. May God bless you,

    Peace in Christ,
    Deacon Tom Gotschall

  6. Thank you for your Father Finelli reflection on the question of wearing the Roman Collar.

    What is the reason for the use of the Roman collar? It is primarily that of uniform designation. It’s a visual outward sign / symbol of the reality that the person wearing the “collar” has received or is preparing to receive (in the case of many seminarians) the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

    In addition to my ordained ministry (as a deacon), I have a beautiful wife and several children whom I support. Among the various roles I have are; business executive, and Scout leader. Each of my roles requires a different uniform that signifies an outward sign of the reality of my role.

    Some of my business meetings appropriately call for a dress shirt, tie and suit coat & slacks.

    I ordinarily wear a Boy Scout Uniform when attending a Scout meeting.

    When outdoors at Boy Scout Summer Camp, I wear shorts, T-shirt and athletic shoes as I am often coaching, giving instruction or otherwise physically active.

    So it comes naturally for me to wear the clerical suit (Roman Collar) when duty calls for me to operate within a ministerial context. This would include but limited to my public appearances at Churches or other events when I may be introduced as Deacon Gotschall from St. Andrew Catholic Church, meeting with parishioners or inquirers about the Church.

    I recognize differing points of view about the matter and do not intend to speak disrespectfully or disobediently.

    There are many times throughout my ordained life when my simply wearing the Roman collar was a source of comfort and an invitation for the faithful (or confused) to be ministered unto. Strangers approach me because of the Roman Collar and ask a question or request help or to give a comment, or to inquire about the sacraments. If I can be a conduit for others to become closer to Christ if for no other reason then I wore the “advertisement of ministry”, then Thanks be to God.

    Thank you for your vocation. May God bless you,

    Peace in Christ,
    Deacon Tom Gotschall

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