Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Seminarians - get with the clerical look!

Fr Pearce of a Priest Downunder blog highlights this nice piccie of Victorian and Tasmanian seminarians - happy, young, committed, a positive sign for the Church.  Well yes.

But why are they in shirts and ties!  Shouldn't they be being taught good habits (pun intended)....

So personally, I'd rather take this bunch of current regional NSW seminarians, from Wagga Wagga's Vianney College, as the poster boys of our hope!

Get with the programme Corpus Christi!


Fr Nicholas Pearce said...

What is it they say about books and covers ?

Kate said...

That nice covers attract the customers?

Anonymous said...

Not sure if you are aware or not.
But they can only wear clerical collar if they have soutane on as well or are a deacon or priest. If they do not wear soutane as non-ordained then they have to wear shirt and tie. That has been the long established tradition of CCC since its inception at Werribee under Mannix through to Knox, Little, Pell and Hart. So its not new - just tradition.

Stephen K said...

Kate, I'm with Fr Pearce on this one. I think wearing soutanes and habits can be a good thing, but ultimately it does not guarantee anything of importance, namely the disposition or holiness of the wearer. I used to wear a soutane too. Unfortunately, like all uniforms, it can become an attention-seeking symbol as well as a mask. I think the ethos behind Franciscan nakedness and lay invisibility may be what the age now will most readily respond to.

Kate said...

Stephen - Can't see any evidence for that position whatsoever, in fact everything points the other way.

Wearing a soutane is a sign of witness. These days being identified as a (would be!) cleric does not get you any kudos, quite the contrary, it is more likely to result in little moments of martyrdom. But all the more important for that.

And I'm not quite sure what you mean by Franciscan 'nakedness' - Franciscans (or at least the branches of the order that are thriving and growing) do actually wear habits in public!

Indeed, all the evidence suggests that the religious orders and priestly societies that require the wearing of a uniform are, all other things being equal, far more likely to attract vcations and support then those who have dropped it.

A Canberra Observer said...

I agree with the comments regarding clerical dress and whether they are in the clerical state (new code ...).

I agree with Terra - clerical dress can be a radical sign of witness. Can't say I've heard of 'Franciscan nakedness' or 'lay invisibility'. Seems like it adds up to 'clerical invisibility'.

Anonymous said...

Re Kate and visiblity. I think it would be better to ask why do priests (once ordained) not wear the collar in public? |What are they afraid of? being recognised? The witness value of the collar as the mark of an ordained priest ought not be shunned. Indeed Archbishop Dolan of New York has a great piece on his weekly blog about a confrontation at an airport when a passenger saw him with his collar, but did not recognise him as America's premier archbishop. +Dolan's response to the confrontation which many priests probably fear these days, is excellent.
But its not the seminarians we need worry about and their attire, its ordained priests and nuns.
M Teresa's nuns are easily recognisable around the planet for their white saris and cross. They stand out and are not afraid to wear it like their great saintly founder. Trouble is, today too many nuns and religious are terrified of wering their habits in public / any sign of being a religious. They would rather have hair styles, new clothes and total anonymity.
That is a real problem which religious order heads ought face up to and resolve. There is too much opting-out and weakness to witnessing for their lives of poverty, chastity and obedience - so what difference do they really make at all? probably zero for their timidity of being identified as consecrated to the Lord and the Blessed Virgin.
ps. Did you ever see a Buddhist monk or nun wearing civilian clothing? never ever. They wear their golden or white robes proudly and with honour. catholic priests and nuns could learn a lot from them.

Kate said...

Adam - I do agree with you.

And you are right about AB Dolan's great piece.

But my point is, how priests and religious behave after they are ordained/professed depends in part on what they are taught during formation!

Just as postulants and novice religious in habited orders wear...a habit, albeit usually not identical to that worn by the professed, in order to get them used to it, so too should be the case with priests.

True, many conservative young priests will wear clericals despite their training - but it should be becuase of it.

My view is that we need to ditch those outmoded 'traditions', of whatever vintage (though did seminarians who were at that time actually clerics really wear shirts and ties under Mannix? I have to say it sounds implausible to me), that send the wrong message, and recover those of the broader church that do work. Down with shirts and ties!