A couple years ago, when he was a mere seminarian, my blog neighbor Fr. Michael Duffy wrote passionately about how the collar is “yoke and witness” to his life and his vocation.
Now another priest, Father Chris Pietraszko, has sounded a similar chord, and I think it’s something people need to be reminded of:
This is WHY I wear a collar: Some priests have done harm to the Church through sin, while wearing that collar. And thus have added a very negative meaning to it (stigma/stereo-type). So it is actually not easy for any priest to wear. haha…a little while ago I walked into Toys R Us for my niece’s birthday gift…awkward.
n any case, I wear it because instead of hiding that grief that society has experienced, or keeping it segregated to the Church building, I would prefer to do good with it on, to bring about an alternative view to the priesthood through its most common-symbolic expression. The collar represents service. If we wear it and serve at the same time, perhaps that healing can begin.
I get knocked down a few notches, but its not really by people outside of the Church, for wearing the collar. But that is neither here nor there.
Wearing the collar – MUST accompany charity. It would be better for a priest to never wear his collar if he would cut people off while driving, or eat fancy meals and drive expensive cars. The priesthood does not need to be undermined so publically. When I went to Tim Hortons, it was my day off, and I almost did not wear my collar to just grab a coffee…conscience said otherwise though, so I obeyed.
It was around Christmas time and there was a man ahead of me in line. He looked at me a few times, almost perplexed. Then finally he said, “I wasn’t sure if I was going to say anything, but I am.”
I think to myself…”Oh crap…is this going to turn into a public declaration of hatred towards priests” (as has happened in the past). Nope.
The man shared with me how he was not Catholic, but his wife was. She had died last year, but one of her wishes was to hear Christmas Caroling. The kids in an elementary catholic school sang to her before she died, and it really impressed him. Then at the funeral, the priest arranged to have that same choir sing at her funeral.
He was having a difficult Christmas without his wife. When he saw the collar he was reminded of how God had been present to him through the Church and it gave him consolation. He literally said, “I didn’t know how I was going to get through this Christmas, but then I saw you.”