The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


Deacons and the collar: the debate continues

posted by jmcgee

Judging from the e-mails I receive on this topic, this is a subject that never seems to grow old.

The question: should deacons wear the collar?
Last year, I posted a lengthy look at the question, with some sage insight from Deacon William Ditewig. Now, many months later, another deacon has left a comment, which I post here, for further insight and discussion. (Visit the original post for much more.) 
The latest response:
priest_collar.pngI disagree with my brother, Deacon Ditewig, in that Canon Law allows the “bishop of the diocese” to determine the appropriate clerical attire for the deacon. Can. 284 states, “Clerics are to wear suitable ecclesiastical garb according to the norms issued by the conference of bishops and according to legitimate local customs.” How can the subrogation of Canon Law by a bishop’s particular law be construed as “legitimate local customs?” Canon 284 is clear in its direction of what clerics should do regarding clerical attire. Canon 288 allows permanent deacons the OPTION to not be bound by Canon 284; particular law by a bishop should not be superior to Canon Law. The only thing that Canon 288 allows the bishop to do is make Canon 284, i.e. the wear of clerical attire, mandatory for permanent deacons making, not forbidden. But bishops are not open to permanent deacons arguing the point that their particular law is limited to Canon Law. I also respectfully take issue with Deacon Ditewig that just because his not wearing a collar didn’t “make one iota of difference” implies that it is axiomatic for us all. When I was a chaplain in a secular environment, the local airport, initial recognition and effective ministry mandated clerical attire. Everyone in a parish knows who the deacon is without a collar. All of Deacon Ditewig’s audiences knew before his speeches that he was a deacon. In a prison, a hospital, or an airport, no one knows a cleric from anyone else unless he is in clerical attire. Clerical attire is a sacramental that makes the presence of Holy Mother Church evident. In an increasingly secular world, why would any cleric wish to hide the light of Christ under a bushel basket?



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Deacon Dean

posted October 27, 2009 at 4:00 pm


You might be surprised at how quickly clerical attire for deacons is, indeed, forbidden when the (arch)bishop mistakes a deacon in clericals, wearing a large cross on a chain (as many do), for a fellow bishop. I’m just sayin’.



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Deacon John M. Bresnahan

posted October 27, 2009 at 6:54 pm


I definitely prefer to not wear a Roman collar (and do not) as requested by our archdiocese. However, in our archdiocese transitional deacons (as well as seminarians, I believe) are expected to wear clericals when they go out into a parish to practice ministry.
If I were in a parish where a transitional deacon was serving and wearing clericals, I would probably go hunting for a Roman collar, lest people think that those of us who are married, “permanent” deacons are somehow inferior deacons in a lesser level of the diaconate because we are not going on to the priesthood. There is only one order of deacons and practices should not be followed that essentially misinform people about that fact.



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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted October 27, 2009 at 7:07 pm


Deacon John…
I’m with you.
But there is certainly a weird double standard. The other day, we had a seminarian appear on my show, a young man still two years away from ordination to the diaconate, and he was in full clericals. (Collar and, yes, cufflinks…) The receptionist greeted him with a cheerful, “Good morning, Father,” and I had to laugh. Later the same day, we had a brother come on for an interview, and he was also wearing a Roman collar.
There are some times where the collar would certainly be a help for deacons — wakes, chaplaincy, etc. But as a rule, I’m not a fan of it. It changes how people see you, and how you see yourself — and not always in a good way.
Dcn. G.



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Deacon Scott Dodge

posted October 27, 2009 at 8:36 pm


I’ll be Catholic and say yes/and, too. Canon law does permit a permanent deacon to wear a Roman collar and clericals. My diocese has no policy on this, except our VG requests that when we wear clericals, we wear clericals, which, for Roman Catholic clerics, are black. It is preferred that when we visit the sick in hospital, or do jail/prison ministry, that we wear a collar with something distingushing us as deacons, the cross with diaconal stole pin, or a name tags identifying us as deacons.
Personally for pastoral reasons, I only wear a collar when I am required to wear one. I don’t want to be mistaken for a priest and I find that it easily becomes a barrier between me and the people I serve. I have perfected what my wife calls “the quasi-clerical look”- black shoes and socks (gray socks if I am feeling saucy), black trousers, and a dark-colored shirt (open collar or with tie), or dark gray mock turtle neck, which has led to me consider a ministry as a mime.
I, too, have seen too many permanent deacons in collar wearing too much ecclesial bling, like a pectoral kind of cross.



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Meggan

posted October 27, 2009 at 8:50 pm


When I see a Roman collar I think, “Priest.” I have heard other people call deacons in Roman collars, “Father.”
Is that ok or not ok? I don’t know. But, I tell you, collar=priest in most people’s minds.



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Mike Hayes

posted October 27, 2009 at 9:45 pm


Deacon Scott–
Perhaps you should mime the gospel this week? =)
As a wanna be deacon I think something distinctive is key. Deacons shouldn’t want to look like priests or be mistaken for them. Perhaps a clerical collar is fine but perhaps a diaconal stole should always be worn over it?
The lapel pin is worn by most deacons I know on their suits but I just don’t think that cuts it.



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Michele

posted October 27, 2009 at 11:19 pm


my opinion is that most of the very fine priests (Bishops) and deacons I know do not need a roman collar to make it known abundantly who or what they are. They are known by their words and deeds.



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Jack Shea

posted October 27, 2009 at 11:24 pm


I used to agree with the “no clericals” concept. However, after working as a Chaplain intern for the past two years of my formation ministering to patients of all faiths, I now believe that a Roman Catholic clergyman should dress accordingly when on duty outside of the parish confines.



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cathyf

posted October 27, 2009 at 11:38 pm


Also, when violating traffic laws, you need to wear a collar so that the cop knows to not give you a ticket. :-p



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andrewh

posted October 28, 2009 at 9:26 am


so what is the difference between the ministry of a transitional deacon and that of a permanent deacon. As I read the documents of the church concerning ordination the only seperation is the fact that one moves on to priesthood. The actual duties and ministry of the deacon is the same in both cases.
If then the clerical state is the same then both would be allowed to wear clerics.



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Diakonos

posted October 28, 2009 at 10:06 am


The fact that this thread continues means that there is inconsistency.
For one thing
Seminarians can wear clerics, and yet they are not clerics until ordination.
Religious Brothers are not clerics either, and yet they wear clerics.
then
Permanent Deacons don’t wear clerics in some parts of the US.
Some wear Grey clerics others Black clerics.
Saying that the collar separates us from the people, seems a weak argument, and minimizes the seal of ordination as if we are embarrassed to witness to it.
I sense a hunger for meaning in our world today. The growth of the diaconate
the sign that Christ the servant is needed in places where pastors can’t be …. in the workplace etc
Distinctiveness of dress is a real witness.



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Dante

posted October 28, 2009 at 12:41 pm


WOW I didn’t even see this before I sent my comments above on the Anglican option. Obviously I am a “for the collar” man. In my archdiocese deacons pretty much all the shots as to when or when not wear the collar. BUT the majority never or hardly do. And when a deacon shows up in a collar the usual reply (from deacons and priests) is “Why are you wearing THAT?” or a close second, “Oh man are you a wanna-be?” (usually said half-jokingly). The usual reply from tha average parishoner is one of utter surprise that the deason (who they have known a long time and whome they see vested at Mass) is a CLERIC. “Oh I thought you were just, you know…a real dedicared layman.” I rest my case. :)
Is ther anyway we deacons in the USA could be a united body and voic eon this and other topics? I do not find the National Association to be much of a voice in this regard (no offense).



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Your Name

posted October 28, 2009 at 12:56 pm


The clerical dress arguement is just another side issue in the ongoing identity crisis of the diaconate in the Roman Church. To wear or not to wear clerics is such a ridiculous issue in the face of the important issues we face in the world and the church. If a man is called to receive Holy Orders in the church he can certainly make a wise decision on whether he needs to wear clerics in his ministry.
Thank God we have Archbishop Chaput in Denver. He allows all deacons to wear clerics in whatever scenario / mininstry the deacon is serving at the time. If you don’t want to wear clerics, don’t wear them. Even deacons candidates wear clerics to their classes, just like the seminarians. How this helps a person in becoming a priest or deacon I am not sure. J
I never wear clerics at Sunday mass. If I have a funeral, baptism or a wedding seminary or an official ceremony or meeting I wear clerics.
I have friends who wear clerics all the time. Just my preference.



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Your Name

posted October 28, 2009 at 1:20 pm


Having been ordained now for two years and working both as a hospital and prison chaplain for the last four, I see no real need for the collar to be worn. I would ask those of you who are in favor of it to ask yourselves what exactly it is you are trying to accomplish? Will it be more perception than reality?
We are ordained to the work and ministry of Jesus Christ, having a collar on will not change the type of minister you are, but it could significantly change the real reason you are there in the first place. People are too confused as it is, why add to the confusion?



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Thomas Scott

posted October 28, 2009 at 1:23 pm


I really like that Deacons wear clerics and have not heard a single argument against it that held water.
In my diocese (Nashville) they wear gray shirts and the white collar. It is clear that they are ordained and also clear that there is a distinction from the priest (who in my parish never wears one.)
Distinction is dress is an important part of the ministry. It’s like not putting up signs for the restrooms and making it difficult for people to find them as a result. I would think that the obvious benefit of having stray Catholics ask questions of Deacons would outweigh the other issues.



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Deacon Bill Ditewig

posted October 29, 2009 at 1:53 pm


While I certainly agree that there are certain environments in which wearing the collar can enhance the deacon’s ministry, and while I also agree that there is a horrible inconsistency around the country on this, especially when we consider the practice with transitional deacons, I still maintain that the collar is — generally — not worth the psychic energy and emotion it generates!
Again, personally, I think the policy of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC is quite good and would serve as a good model elsewhere: “If, in the professional judgment of the deacon, the wearing of clerical attire will enhance the ministry of the deacon, he may do so.” Period. It’s up to the “professional judgment of the deacon.”
Legally, two points need to be stressed:
1) Canon 288 relieves the deacon of the OBLIGATION of wearing the collar. This happened because many of us work in secular occupations where the OBLIGATION of wearing clericals would be a problem. I was a career Navy officer, for example. The canon does not forbid deacons from wearing the collar; it simply removes the obligation.
2) The bishop, however, has the right and the authority to regulate pastoral practice in his diocese, and that includes clerical attire. Notice that “Rome” does not dictate what “clerical attire” actually is; it is simply to be distinctive. That means a bishop could decide that he wants all of his clergy to wear jeans and T-shirts that say “priest” or “deacon” on them if he thought that appropriate (I’m joking here!!!!!). In the 19th Century, clerical attire was a long, plain, usually black frock coat, not the “collar” that was developing in Protestant Germany. These things evolve over time and cultures. It is the bishop who is supposed to make the call.
There will never be, in my opinion, a NATIONAL policy on this matter. Believe me, in my many years serving at the USCCB, I can tell you that there is no bishop anywhere in the country who is not aware of this question! They all also know, and have considered, national and even regional policies on diaconate attire. After long and detailed conversation, THEY DECIDED that they preferred to keep the flexibility (another perspective on “inconsistency”) of the current practice, so that bishops could tailor things for their areas. So, it’s not been a failure of the former Secretariat (which I headed) or of the National Association of Deacon Directors (NADD) to communicate this to the bishop; it was a conscious decision of the bishops to go in another direction.
Generally speaking, though, most bishops are actually OPEN to the idea of deacons wearing collars, if a pastoral need can be demonstrated to him. So, for those of you who want to wear the collar, talk with your bishop and see what can be worked out.
Bill



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Deacon Eric Stoltz

posted October 30, 2009 at 6:33 pm


Personally I’m not interested in wearing the collar. In prison ministry I have never really had a problem not having one, except in one instance where it would have been helpful.
However, I have run into two other isolated instances.
Once was in the Holy Land, where I was leading a pilgrimage group. We were at the Church of the Beatitudes. All the groups ahead of us, led by priests in Roman collars, were let in without a thought, but ours was stopped as a diminutive Italian nun blocked our way. She shook her finger, wagged her head and said “Protestanti!” My lack of a collar meant my group had to have our prayer service outside the church. So, my own personal rule: if I lead a pilgrimage again, I will pack a collar.
Second instance, in social justice demonstrations where I would join a group of ecumenical clergy. The Protestant ministers and Episcopal priests and deacons would all show up in collars, which was a strong sign of clerical solidarity with the protesters. I was not able to extend that same visibility on behalf of my church.
So everyday, no. Special circumstances, yes. I guess the key is to wear it when it helps someone else, not myself.



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Dante

posted October 31, 2009 at 11:18 am


Amen to Deacon Ditewig’s comment: Leave it up to the professional judgment of the deacon. THAT is the bottom line of what I was trying to express. I just would like this professional judgment to be recognized and respected by many among the clergy when we DO judge it best to wear the collar.



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Your Name

posted November 2, 2009 at 9:26 am


In my communion, deacons (and priests) wear clergy attire. It is not their elevation that we are interested in but rather making visible the church in an ever increasing secular world.



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Your Name

posted November 3, 2009 at 12:44 pm


Deacon Ditewig had it spot on for the ADW, except that while the bishop in the ADW has made the wearing of clerics optional for deacons, if they do wear clerics, it must be a grey shirt with collar. I think this may be a place where the USCCB could step in and create some uniformity. Not in saying that deacons must or may wear clerics, but in the style, i.e., greay shirt w/Roman collar and black pants/shoes. I have seen deacons in grey, blue and black clerics.
I do, however, heartily agree with the comment from Nov 2, “It is not their elevation that we are interested in but rather making visible the church in an ever increasing secular world.” If a deacon can and may wear clerics, he should.



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Your Name

posted November 8, 2009 at 2:17 am


I agree with comment on Nov. 3. Especially about
wearing a different color then black. If a policy was
followed that deacons would only wear blue shirts with
collar,eventually everyone would distinguish between
priest or deacon. Both ordained to serve our Lord, but
limited in faculties. Worn at the discretion of the deacon but in accepance of all clergy. The Blue would be in honor of our
Blessed Mother.



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Gayle

posted November 11, 2009 at 11:38 am


It is interesting to see that this debate is about as popular as the nuns/sisters and habit/veil debate. Nice to know we are not alone in the “what to wear” flurry.



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Deacon Ed

posted December 14, 2009 at 3:20 pm


Deacons are part of the clerical state and as such have certain Canon Law privileges that include clerical dress. While it is not necessarily “helpful” in certain settings; i.e., professional office settings, it is “helpful” in other ways. The use of colors that differ from priests helps differentiate and identify what a deacon is, and what his faculties include. Not only does this identification send a message that the deacon is available to others in ministerial ways, but even more importantly, it reminds the deacon of who he is and what he is called to.
When I wear gray clerical attire, I am a visible sign of the presence of Church in an increasingly secular world. I am ready to minister to another in ways that would not be available without this symbol of my clerical state. I am also very much aware of the profound privilege and incredible honor it is to stand as a witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a Roman Catholic deacon. In short, I believe that the decision and circumstances should be entrusted to the discretion of the deacon.
When visiting hospitals, I am often invited to talk with another patient who looks to me for guidance, prayer or blessing. These opportunities to become a symbol of God’s generous love are not limited to prisons, nursing homes, hospitals or funeral parlors – the hunger for diaconia goes well beyond these settings. We are called to be present, but first we need to be recognized as being available to serve.



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Ken Ramsey

posted July 19, 2010 at 8:00 pm


I am probably the last person qualified to comment on this issue. Also seeing as how it has been almost a year since the last post, I’m not sure my thoughts are even relevent. However, here I go. I am a second year aspirant for the Diaconate. I have already experienced the two ‘classes’ of Deacons. Those seminarians destined to become priests and those of us that are also dedicating our lives in the service of Jesus. While I believe that Permanent Deacons should be allowed to wear the clerical garb when appropriate, I also believe they should be the ones to decide when that is. The Permanent Deacon is, usually, older, more experienced, just as well educated as a transistional Deacon. So they should at least have the common sense to know when to wear what. The Dioceses that discourage the complete assimilation of Permanent Deacons, (Mine is one of them), into the clergy are doing a great disservice to the laity as well as the Church as a whole. I feel this is a deeper and more substantive issue than seems to be recognized.



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Johnny Jeyy

posted September 1, 2010 at 5:00 pm


I know a few people studying for the permanet Diaconate,& I know One in perticular who says,I don’t care what my Bishop says,if I feel like wearing clerical attire on any given day,even if it’s all black,I’m going to do it….What’s he going to do,UNORDAIN ME?”.So I’m just curious.Can a Bishop have a deacon defrocked for that?



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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted September 1, 2010 at 8:03 pm


Johnny…
Far as I know, no. Although, he would be breaking one of the promises made at ordination: a promise of obedience to the bishop and his successors.
Dcn. G.



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Laity

posted October 31, 2010 at 10:57 am


Although laity, my thoughts and feelings are appropriate to be made here (or anywhere else) because in fact, bishops, priests, and deacons exist to serve the laity. So how laity perceives what is being done by clergy is appropriate.
I recently had an opportunity to work with a deacon in an interfaith environment, serving the less fortunate of our community. Many ministers were wearing clerical attire including Episcopal priests, Lutheran ministers, Methodist ministers, and other ministers of denominations that I’ve never heard of before. I asked my deacon why he was not wearing clerical dress, or the Roman collar, since many non-Roman’s were wearing them. It actually was (in my opinion) inappropriate for him not to be wearing one since it seemed to reduce his status to “non-clergy,” further fostering the mistaken idea both inside and outside the Catholic Church, that deacons are not clergy. He told me that he had petitioned the Bishop to allow him to wear clerical attire in that environment and was told no, because the bishop did not want to foster confusion, among the laity, between the order of deacon and the order of priest.
Why are we worried about laity being confused when every Tom, Dick, and Harry of every other denomination is wearing clerical attire but I do not see laity standing around scratching their heads over that conundrum. Yet, I routinely see seminarians who are not clergy (no, they are not deacons yet) wearing clerical attire, but somehow the confusion-factor is insignificant in this case?
From my perspective, this is merely priests protecting their territory, which, if they had a proper understanding of the diaconate, should not and would not be an issue.
While I will accept that the bishop has the authority to decide this issue for his diocese, I pray that bishops will check their motives for their decisions. To use a “confusion of the laity” excuse is an excuse. There should be a much more substantive reason for a bishop to deny clergy a clerical right, especially one that has a meaningful and appropriate purpose.
Let deacons decide when it is appropriate to wear clerical attire and council those who wear it inappropriately.



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Deacon Bob

posted February 4, 2011 at 10:51 pm


I recently attended an ecumenical clergy day in our diocese. Catholic clergy [ priests and deacons ] and the Lutheran and Episcopal Clergy. Without exception all of the Lutherans and Episcopalians came in their clerical attire including the women among them. The obvious difference was among the Catholic clergy. Most priest were in their ‘civies’ as well as deacons who are discouraged from wearing the collar. I could not help but think ‘ what are we hiding?’ And we wonder why there is a vocation crisis? We live in a culture wear clothing says a lot about the individual and more importantly reveals to the onlooker the role and identity of the other. Flight attendants wear uniforms as do doctors, nurses, chefs, military not to mention the mormons who travel two by two while they are evangelizing. It seems to me that many Catholic priests prefer to hide their identity in light of the very public and widespread scandal of clerical sexual abuse — hoping not to be associate in any way with that scene. Permanent deacons in the Latin Rite Church are members of the clergy and are not lay deacons yet our priests are somewhat threatened by our presence. This I believe is at the core of the matter. In a world that has become increasingly secular I believe that the sign value of wearing clerical attire is an important aid in the exercise of the ministry. If the man who is ordained a permanent deacon is deemed to be suitable for the ministry, there should be no problem at all with his wearing the outward sign of his clerical status.



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Deacon Bill Gallerizzo

posted March 22, 2012 at 10:02 pm


I have to wholeheartedly agree with this comment, albeit three years ago. Originally incardinated by the Archdiocese of Washington, Cardinal McCarrick, and now CArdinal Wuerl expect deacons to wear clericals (gray), not just so deacons may be recognized, but also so that the public will recognize the presence of the Church. Every contact is an evangelical moment.
Currently, I am on-loan to Fall River where collars are verbotten. The priests don’t wear collars in public and deacons aren’t allowed. And then we wonder why the general public doesn’t see the validity of the Church. People are leaving the Church today for lots of reasons, but many boil down to their feelings of being deserted. There is nothing to differentiate between we deacons whose role is to serve others, from any other altruistic volunteers. I am fortunate that I have a wonderful pastor who supports deacons and our work. We get ample opportunity to preach and our community work is strongly supported. But we are not parish entities as are our protestant brothers; we work directly under the bishops, and our role is to be the social justice and community action arm of the Church. We cannot hope to bring back the “wayward” of any type if they do not recognize the validiity of the Church, and acceptance of validity starts with recognition of presence. We shouldn’t have to be put in a position of having to justify our existence by directly making our identities known when a gray clerical speaks louder than any words. It compels us to stay on it 24/7, which most of us do anyway, but it also let’s the public know that the Church is present. As a sacramental faith, it is the outward signs that relate to us the Grace God provides. Why are some of the Church afraid of accomplishing the task Christ has called us to? When those of us who are old enough received confirmation, we were given a blow on the cheek to remind us to be ready to die for the faith. It is far more important task at this time to live for the faith, and deacons do it in spades. Perhaps if priests and bishops took this role as seriously as they expect us deacons to, they might not have to worry about filling the pews on Sunday. Scandals certainly would carry much less weight in the public eye as they couldn’t help but find Christ’s love in the work of the Church.



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Deacon Jhon Muriel

posted April 11, 2012 at 9:37 am


When one walk in to a Mall it is easy to notice how the evil forces are well represented. If those walking on the darkness are proud of it, why the followers of the light should be embarrassed? Often Bishops are afraid that a permanent deacon (especially the married ones) may bring confusion to people when wearing a collar and a wedding band. In other cases, they just don’t want a deacon getting more recognition than the Bishop himself.
As for the Dalmatics, they just don’t justify expending Church’s money on deacon’s attire. The reality is that with out the dalmatic the deacon is just not properly dress for mass. Blessing!



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Deacon Don Sandstrom

posted May 22, 2012 at 8:52 am


I don’t have a problem with deacons not wearing a roman collar. The problem I run into is when seminary students when the collar as well as transtitional deacons who wear the collar. At my parish we had two transtitional deacons assisting at masses on the weekends. They were invariably addressed as “father” by parishioners.



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Deacon Tom

posted July 6, 2012 at 12:27 am


I must agree with Bill Dietwig that the Archdiocese of Washington has the best policy that should be adopted for the entire country.

Wearing a clerical collar should be at the discretion of the deacon. I would hope it would be reserved for those times when he serves in active ministry only.

I have repeatedly told people who ask me about wearing a roman collar that I would do so only if it was distinctively different to be identified as a deacon. I do not want to define myself by what I am not – a priest. The collar adapted by Souix City, I like.

Dark Navy Blue could be neat and distinctively different – I don’t like Grey I rememeber the Lutheran minister who lived near me – wonderful man – but he always wore grey.



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Deacon Joe

posted July 8, 2012 at 9:22 pm


I am a permanent deacon and my primary ministry is in prisons. Currently I do not wear clerics even in prison. It is becoming more obvious that clerics would readily identify my role. I believe clerics should be worn particularly when functioning as a clergy in an environment where the individual is not known.



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Justin

posted January 15, 2013 at 4:02 pm


One comment I don’t think has been made is the part-time assumption. While I see the point that wearing the collar may not be appropriate in certain circumstances (while at a uniformed job); wearing it only during active ministry gives the impression that you are a part-time priest. You are ordained for all times, not just assigned parish work. You never know when you may need to baptize at a car accident.



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Deacon Tom

posted March 6, 2013 at 11:48 pm


Recently, Archbishop Chaput, Archdiocese of Philadelphia approved the wearing of a roman collar with a “grey” witness shirt. This is effective Palm Sunday throughout the Archdiocese. I worked for 40 years for the Archdiocese and 20 as deacon. I probably would not have worn a collar in that job but would visit prision, hospital, nursing home,wakes, funerals and marriages. Otherwise, I would dress in regular secular clothes – shirt, tie and suit.

One thing I am happy about by the announcement is that grey is distinctively different and everyone in the Archdiocese will come to know who is a priest and who is a deacon when ministering to them.

I wish dioceses would make this standardized as they have for priests. As a former seminary professor in the graduate division, I often would go to lunch and meet the newly arrived sems – only to see them in October dressed in clerical grab while I roamed the seminary in lay clothes. That made no sense to me.



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Jason B.

posted April 8, 2013 at 9:30 pm


That is very well argued. I am an advocate of uniformity for clerics, which is not adequately promoted in the U.S. Dioceses I have visited. But I believe Catholic Clerics–Deacons, Priests, and Bishops–should all wear a Roman Collar with traditional black shirts suits and/or cassocks, at least when performing church-related duties. I am not sure why Bishops fear uniformity for clerics, but this is the rationale Priests have offered me in explaining the lack of uniformity (Basically, Deacons are second-class clerics, according to said Priests, and are not fully ordained like Priests–they lack most substantive sacramental duties).

I have been in medical settings in which I did not recognize a Catholic Deacon who was wearing secular attire. He might as well have been a Eucharistic Minister as I knew no different. Also, the grey shirts advocated in Philadelphia are a problem for me–this is the clothing of Protestant Denominations (I prefer not to carry a ruler to measure collar openings), and I am uncomfortable receiving blessings from Catholic Clerics who dress like Protestants).

Bishops should learn to recognize or focus on a simple fact–clerical attire is designed to be an outward display to us lay people of the clerics role in the church.

Perhaps a Deacon should wear a conspicuous Deacon’s Cross necklace or a Deacon’s Cross Lapel Pin–this would be nice to help distinguish Deacons from Priests. As for Bishops, lay people like myself never see them so there is no worry there. More significantly,unordained seminarians should need to wear something identifying that they have absolutely no sacramental or blessing role.



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Br. Christopher B.P.P.

posted May 10, 2013 at 10:46 am


As the founder of the Brothers of Padre Pio in Los Angeles we wore a black shirt and crucifix. We were unapproachable. Padre Pio said people need to talk. Therefore we now wear a religious habit. Though we don’t like it because its uncomfortable we wear it. Our primary concern is bring Christ to the people. We are in the business of saving souls.



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Rev. Dcn. Catarino Villanueva

posted July 11, 2013 at 9:23 pm


Please notice my Title, “Reverend Deacon,” a Priest is a “Reverend Father.” we both share in the building up of the church. Throughout most of my Diocese a large number of Priest do not wear a collar at all, nor even at Mass. When it was made optional for the priest, it all came off. The priesthood and the diaconate is not just a “Job,” where we can just go home and take off clothes and become a civilian. When the first seven where sent out to care for the widows and the orphanes, I am sure they wore similar attire as the apostles so that people would know that they were affiliated with apostles. Finally, I too think it should be the at the deacons disgretion. Thanks



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