Whiter than White


I am to be ordained as a deacon in the cathedral in Charleston on 29 November, and as a priest at St Mary Church in Greenville on 14 December. So I have been shopping around for clerical clobber. This is obviously a niche market, and not a shopping spree for the faint hearted. What does a new clergyman at my stage in life wear? Shall it be a polyester alb, polyester wool mix? Should it be a front opening, across the shoulder number or an over the head, complete with an amice with bands? Do we want lace, embroidery or puritanical plain?

Who can say what mysteries lie within the clerical outfitters catalogues? What about clergy shirts? The practical button up the front, slip in the little piece of plastic job, or do we go with rabats, vests and dickies? Do we have shirts with detachable collars? Shall they be plastic or will my wife scrub, iron and starch real linen collars? Somehow I think not.

And what about hats? Can I carry off a biretta with style? Could I wear one of those broad brimmed ‘almost a cowboy hat’ numbers like Chesterton’s Fr. Brown wears? Just what does a bald headed priest wear when its cold? I used to wear a French beret, but will that receive jeers here in America where France is not best loved? Do they make black ball caps? If so, what team has black in their uniform? It had better be the Angels.

What are your thoughts on clerical gear? What do you like to see your priest wearing?

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  • I have no idea about clerical garb, but Congratulations! (If that’s the right thing to say…?)

  • Congratulations is good. thanks! Prayers are appreciated.

  • In my brief time as a convergent Anglican cleric, I accumulated some pieces from http://www.maryweave.com (liturgical wear, no clerical shirts). Theresa’s stuff is all hand-woven, which really appealed to me, since I hate both polyester and the fancy brocade/coronation tapestry look. But I also picked up quite a bit from eBay–I think the amount of money you can spend on that stuff is truly obscene, but you can get some really fine used vestments.

  • great idea! I need to equip our daily mass chapel at school. We’ll get the kids to see what they can find on ebay.

  • Wear something that breathes! I have to wear a polyester cassock with a cotton surplice for Vespers and Compline services. That’s fine if I’m the precentor, but when I have to sing in the choir loft, it’s downright stifling.

  • Welcome home and congratulations!And I have you on my prayer list.Don’t rule out a fiddleback chasuble or two. You may be brushing up on your Latin quite soon.And the rule should always be that you can’t have too many smells and bells at Mass! God created the five senses to be used to adore him.

  • Congratulations! My Bible study group likes to travel to Greenville to attend Mass at St. Mary’s every now and then (the Saturday sung Mass is beautiful), so perhaps we’ll see you one day!Many prayers for you and your family!My personal vote is for the black cassock (?) that Fr. Newman wears…

  • I like to see a priest wearing a soutane and I don’t see anything wrong with liturgical embroidery on a chasuable – I don’t mean the whole floral garden stuff but crosses etc. The Mass is the source, centre and summit of our Faith and if the priest is wearing a special chasuable that tells the people that he too thinks it is special. We had an Anglican convert and at first his chasuables were beautifully embroidered ones but he soon switched to the plain poncho style unfortunately. I would definitely go for a fabric which wasn’t too heavy and which would ‘breathe’.I too have seen some lovely vestments on eBay. After all, you’ll only need one of each colour and perhaps 2 fancy ones for Christmas and Easter.

  • As much as possible, choose a wardrobe to look like Keanu Reeves in “The Matrix.”

  • David, my thirteen yr old son agrees. Where do I find the boots?

  • Ouiz: for real beauty and sublimity, attend the Solemn High Mass at 11:00 on Sunday.Dwight: do they make black ball caps with Tiger Paws?

  • Do you mean the solemn high mass at St mary’s at 11.00? If you are in the Greenville area come and join me. My first Mass at St Mary’s will be at 11.00 on Sunday, 17 December.

  • What’s funny about that is sometimes when you search for “cassock” on eBay, you’ll get quite a few of those Matrix costumes popping up!

  • The real question is: did the Wachowki brothers (brought up as Catholics) intend for Neo Anderson (the name means ‘New Son of Man’)to not only be a Christ figure, but to dress like a priest? I reckon so.

  • Dwight, you should TOTALLY find a way to video that first Mass so those of us who are too far away to celebrate with you can enjoy it too.As for priestly garb, I think the first consideration has to be your wife’s willingness to starch/iron. 🙂 Other than that, BE COMFORTABLE! I work for a priest, and I have often laughed when people comment on him being in “civilian” clothes on his days off…

  • Hey Deacon Longenecker1 Congratulations!! Hope you know Fr. Hayden Vaverik (probably just blew the spelling of his last name). Hope you will post a video of your first Mass – what a blessing it will be to attend even if at a distance (Yuma, AZ).

  • Fr Hayden will be the homilist at my first Mass.

  • Fr. Dwight,In answer to your question about blue vestments on Mark Shea’s blog…this comes up every year at Advent on Catholic Answers…unfortunately, the answer is “no.” The GIRM specifies purple/violet (or rose on Gaudete Sunday). There is a dispensation of some sort in Spain and some Latin American countries, but not in the U.S.Gotta distance ourselves from our Anglican brethren, ya know…

  • I’m thinking cassock and one of those black golf hats that alot of priests wear. As for the vestments, a little lace never hut anyone, if you don’t mind spending a little money http://www.barbiconi.com is a great source for abls, surplices, cassocks etc… They even have birettas o{]:-) !!!

  • o

  • I think a couple of fiddlebacks in green, purple, red and white – naw gold. A black gothic chasuable for All Souls Day would seem a must. Because you live in the South I’d go with a few tab collars (but don’t tell anyone that I suggested such a thing). Oh and a biretta. Welcome again and you and your family will be in my prayers!

  • No tabs. Collars are not tabs.And no cassock-albs; their just made up. Wear a cassock and a linen alb with an amice.

  • Congratulations! I would recommend a good wool-blend cassock with the fascia (“belly-band”) of course and always use a full linen collar, which is so much more comfortable than plastic! To keep your head warm, don’t rule out the black skull-cap which is permitted for priests and deacons and you may want a capello Romano, if necessary! Birettas are not suitable for outdoor wear…

  • Anonymous

    Don’t waste time and money.Buy a real cassock in Rome.But be prudent and get some clergymans as well.Holy wisdom does not mean always waring a cassock. Sometimes you have to play the game so you can later win the war.