Friday, October 16, 2009

All growed up

Tomorrow is my ten year high school reunion. Very few of them know what I'm doing now so I'm going to show up in a Roman collar and surprise them :) Opinions are mixed on the clerical suit among seminarians. Some of them will not wear it at all outside the seminary building unless it's to an official Church event. They say they're not priests, and that's that. I disagree. Seminarians in Theology and Pre-Theology are permitted to wear clerics and I think wearing the clerics is an important witness today. The feedback I get from lay people is overwhelmingly positive; they tell me it's inspiring to see young men willing to devote themselves to the Church as future priests. Some pious church ladies I know always sound slightly disappointed when they greet me when I'm not in clerics. This year my field education assignment is at Villa Sienna Retirement Home in Mountainview. The staff there requested that Ray and I (he's my classmate and my partner for field ed) wear our clerics whenever we go over there because the old folks just love seeing young seminarians like that. Complete strangers have actually come up to me to ask me questions about the faith and the Church. Fr. Chuck Kelly, our vocations director, once told me that he happened to be wearing clerics while at a gas station. A man came up to him and asked to make a confession. It had been twenty years since his last! If people stop to make conversation, it's a simple matter to let them know you're a seminarian and not a priest yet. The joke I like to make is, "I'm not a priest yet, so if you tell me anything I can't absolve you and I can tell whomever I please." Nonetheless, I think that external signs of inward convictions and spiritual realities are very important today.

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