23 Reasons Why A Priest Should Wear His Collar

Msgr. Charles M. Mangan & Father Gerald E. Murray. “Why a priest should wear his Roman collar.”

  1. The Roman collar is a sign of priestly consecration to the Lord. As a wedding ring distinguishes husband and wife and symbolizes the union they enjoy, so the Roman collar identifies bishops and priests (and often deacons and seminarians) and manifests their proximity to the Divine Master by virtue of their free consent to the ordained ministry to which they have been (or may be) called.
  2. By wearing clerical clothing and not possessing excess clothes, the priest demonstrates adherence to the Lord’s example of material poverty. The priest does not choose his clothes – the Church has, thanks to her accumulated wisdom over the past two millennia. Humble acceptance of the Church’s desire that the priest wear the Roman collar illustrates a healthy submission to authority and conformity to the will of Christ as expressed through his Church.
  3. Church Law requires clerics to wear clerical clothing. We have cited above number 66 of the Directory for priests, which itself quotes canon 284.
  4. The wearing of the Roman collar is the repeated, ardent desire of Pope John Paul 11. The Holy Father’s wish in this regard cannot be summarily dismissed; he speaks with a special charism. He frequently reminds priests of the value of wearing the Roman collar.In a September 8, 1982 letter to Ugo Cardinal Poletti, his Vicar for the Diocese of Rome, instructing him to promulgate norms concerning the use of the Roman collar and religious habit, the Pontiff observed that clerical dress is valuable “not only because it contributes to the propriety of the priest in his external behavior or in the exercise of his ministry, but above all because it gives evidence within the ecclesiastical community of the public witness that each priest is held to give of his own identity and special belonging to God.”In a homily on November 8, 1982 the Pope addressed a group of transitional deacons whom he was about to ordain to the priesthood. He said that if they tried to be just like everyone else in their “style of life” and “manner of dress,” then their mission as priests of Jesus Christ would not be fully realized.
  5. The Roman collar prevents “mixed messages”; other people will recognize the priest’s intentions when he finds himself in what might appear to be compromising circumstances. Let’s suppose that a priest is required to make pastoral visits to different apartment houses in an area where drug dealing or prostitution is prevalent. The Roman collar sends a clear message to everyone that the priest has come to minister to the sick and needy in Christ’s name. Idle speculation might be triggered by a priest known to neighborhood residents visiting various apartment houses dressed as a layman.
  6. The Roman collar inspires others to avoid immodesty in dress, words and actions and reminds them of the need for public decorum. A cheerful but diligent and serious priest can compel others to take stock of the manner in which they conduct themselves. The Roman collar serves as a necessary challenge to an age drowning in impurity, exhibited by suggestive dress, blasphemous speech and scandalous actions.
  7. The Roman collar is a protection for one’s vocation when dealing with young, attractive women. A priest out of his collar (and, naturally, not wearing a wedding ring) can appear to be an attractive target for the affections of an unmarried woman looking for a husband, or for a married woman tempted to infidelity.
  8. The Roman collar offers a kind of “safeguard “for oneself. The Roman collar provides a reminder to the priest himself of his mission and identity: to witness to Jesus Christ, the Great High Priest, as one of his brother-priests.
  9. A priest in a Roman collar is an inspiration to others who think: “Here is a modern disciple of Jesus.” The Roman collar speaks of the possibility of making a sincere, lasting commitment to God. Believers of diverse ages, nationalities and temperaments will note the virtuous, other-centered life of the man who gladly and proudly wears the garb of a Catholic priest, and perhaps will realize that they too can consecrate themselves anew, or for the first time, to the loving Good Shepherd.
  10. The Roman collar is a source of beneficial intrigue to non-Catholics. Most non- Catholics do not have experience with ministers who wear clerical garb. Therefore, Catholic priests by virtue of their dress can cause them to reflect – even if only a cursory fashion – on the Church and what she entails.
  11. A priest dressed as the Church wants is a reminder of God and of the sacred. The prevailing secular morass is not kind to images which connote the Almighty, the Church, etc. When one wears the Roman collar, the hearts and minds of others are refreshingly raised to the “Higher Being” who is usually relegated to a tiny footnote in the agenda of contemporary culture.
  12. The Roman collar is also a reminder to the priest that he is “never not a priest.” With so much confusion prevalent today, the Roman collar can help the priest avoid internal doubt as to who he is. Two wardrobes can easily lead – and often does – to two lifestyles, or even two personalities.
  13. A priest in a Roman collar is a walking vocation message. The sight of a cheerful, happy priest confidently walking down the street can be a magnet drawing young men to consider the possibility that God is calling them to the priesthood. God does the calling; the priest is simply a visible sign God will use to draw men unto himself.
  14. The Roman collar makes the priest available for the Sacraments, especially Confession and the Anointing of the Sick, and for crisis situations. Because the Roman collar gives instant recognition, priests who wear it make themselves more apt to be approached, particularly when seriously needed. The authors can testify to being asked for the Sacraments and summoned for assistance in airports, crowded cities and isolated villages because they were immediately recognized as Catholic priests.
  15. The Roman collar is a sign that the priest is striving to become holy by living out his vocation always. It is a sacrifice to make oneself constantly available to souls by being publicly identifiable as a priest, but a sacrifice pleasing to Our Divine Lord. We are reminded of how the people came to him, and how he never turned them away. There are so many people who will benefit by our sacrifice of striving to be holy priests without interruption.
  16. The Roman collar serves as a reminder to “alienated” Catholics not to forget their irregular situation and their responsibilities to the Lord. The priest is a witness – for good or ill – to Christ and his Holy Church. When a “fallen-away” sees a priest, he is encouraged to recall that the Church continues to exist. A cheerful priest provides a salutary reminder of the Church.
  17. The wearing of clerical clothing is a sacrifice at times, especially in hot weather. The best mortifications are the ones we do not look for. Putting up with the discomforts of heat and humidity can be a wonderful reparation for our own sins, and a means of obtaining graces for our parishioners.
  18. The Roman collar serves as a “sign of contradiction” to a world lost in sin and rebellion against the Creator. The Roman collar makes a powerful statement: the priest as an alter Christus has accepted the Redeemer’s mandate to take the Gospel into the public square, regardless of personal cost.
  19. The Roman collar helps priests to avoid the on duty/off duty mentality of priestly service. The numbers 24 and 7 should be our special numbers: we are priests 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We are priests, not men who engage in the “priest profession.” On or off duty, we should be available to whomever God may send our way. The “lost sheep” do not make appointments.
  20. The “officers” in Christ’s army should be identifiable as such. Traditionally, we have remarked that those who receive the Sacrament of Confirmation become “soldiers” of Christ, adult Catholics ready and willing to defend his name and his Church. Those who are ordained as deacons, priests and bishops must also be prepared – whatever the stakes – to shepherd the flock of the Lord. Those priests who wear the Roman collar show forth their role unmistakably as leaders in the Church.
  21. The saints have never approved of a lackadaisical approach concerning priestly vesture. For example, Saint Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787), Patron Saint of Moral Theologians and Confessors, in his esteemed treatise The Dignity and Duties of the Priest, urges the wearing of the appropriate clerical dress, asserting that the Roman collar helps both priest and faithful to recall the sublime splendor of the sacerdotal state instituted by the God-Man.
  22. Most Catholics expect their priests to dress accordingly. Priests have long provided a great measure of comfort and security to their people. As youths, Catholics are taught that the priest is God’s representative – someone they can trust. Hence, the People of God want to know who these representatives are and what they stand for. The cherished custom of wearing distinguishable dress has been for centuries sanctioned by the Church; it is not an arbitrary imposition. Catholics expect their priests to dress as priests and to behave in harmony with Church teaching and practice. As we have painfully observed over the last few years, the faithful are especially bothered and harmed when priests defy the legitimate authority of the Church, and teach and act in inappropriate and even sinful ways.
  23. Your life is not your own; you belong to God in a special way, you are sent out to serve him with your life. When we wake each morning, we should turn our thoughts to our loving God, and ask for the grace to serve him well that day. We remind ourselves of our status as His chosen servants by putting on the attire that proclaims for all to see that God is still working in this world through the ministry of poor and sinful men.

Msgr. Charles M. Mangan & Father Gerald E. Murray. “Why a priest should wear his Roman collar.” Homiletic & Pastoral Review (June, 1995).

Founded over one hundred years ago, Homiletic & Pastoral Review is one of the most well-respected pastoral magazines in the world. HPR features solid articles on every aspect of pastoral life and eloquent weekly sermons that illuminate through exposition of Scripture. Subscribe to HPR here.


Msgr. Charles M. Mangan has been appointed by His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, to a position serving the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. Ordained in 1989, Msgr. Mangan formerly served the Diocese of Sioux Falls in several parishes.

Father Gerald E. Murray is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and was ordained in 1984 after completing studies at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie, N. Y. Currently he is studying canon law at the Gregorian University in Rome.

Copyright © 2010 Homiletic & Pastoral Review

What Are Your Thoughts About Wearing The Collar?

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55 comments to 23 Reasons Why A Priest Should Wear His Collar

  • Msgr. Mark Schwarz

    I wear mine all the time. It is my witness to others, and more important, a reminder to myself that I have accepted God’s call to serve His people.

  • Len Smolen

    So much of what I read in the responses is a segregation of the clergy from a “sinful world.” This is Middle Ages thinking.”

    Start with the centuries old, older than Catholicism, tradition that God’s name for them is Yahweh: “I am Who am” – “god” IS BEING.

    All being is divine. “Old” thinking drives millennials and active thinkers away (we were divinely endowed with intelligence long before the Church was founded. To not use our intelligence is contrary to the NaturalLaw). That old thinking leads the Catholic church deeper into irrelevance…it’s your choice. Is Catholicism an ancient legacy or a contemporary force of love and caring for one another, and does “clerical separatism” serve the core value of the Church?

    Having been a Priest for three years, I can see the issue from both sides. I stop by here not to judge nor to condemn but rather to project the future outcomes of two very different attitudes.

    Catch up with reality or fade away into irrelevance

  • Gloria

    Hello my friends , Well I had a good laugh reading some of the comments. Seems to me some people were not ready for ministry., and so they are playing games.

  • Carol Rausch

    I love seeing a Catholic Priest in his Roman Collar. When I see them, it tells me they are very proud of their Priesthood and also designates a certain amount of reverence for his. I love our Catholic priests and am always so grateful to see one in his roman collar. They give up a lot in the material world to help those of us who are sinners. Peace be to all of them.

  • […] Msgr. Charles M. Mangan & Father Gerald E. Murray. “Why a priest should wear his Roman collar.” Homiletic & Pastoral Review (June, 1995). Founded over one hundred years ago, Homiletic & Pastoral Review is one of the most well-respected pastoral magazines in the world. HPR features solid articles on every aspect of pastoral life and eloquent weekly sermons that illuminate through exposition of Scripture. Subscribe to HPR here. THE AUTHOR Msgr. Charles M. Mangan has been appointed by His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, to a position serving the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. Ordained in 1989, Msgr. Mangan formerly served the Diocese of Sioux Falls in several parishes. Father Gerald E. Murray is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and was ordained in 1984 after completing studies at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie, N. Y. Currently he is studying canon law at the Gregorian University in Rome. Copyright © 2010 Homiletic & Pastoral Review Source: courageouspriest.com […]

  • victoria tovt

    they dont wear the collar when they have holiday.i think they should wear all the time as u said in the article.
    one roman catholic priest wanted to kiss me & shouted at me, i didnt tempt him. i didnt do nothing wrong & if i didnt pull them from me he cud kiss me. he wanted me to be his girlfriend, how is that?

    • Joseph Elkins

      I am not sure I understood your comment, but, if the man you are describing is a Catholic priest, and not another type of priest, I would encourage you to break off all contact with him, and to try and inform his Bishop or his Superiors of his behavior. I will keep you in prayer.

  • […] Msgr. Charles M. Mangan & Father Gerald E. Murray – Homiletic & Pastoral Review – These brave priests give 14 reasons why a priest chooses not to wear his collar and then debunk them.    This is a follow-up post to 23 Reasons Why A Priest Should Wear His Collar. […]

  • Sorry for the double post here:

    My husband is an altar server for the EF in NYC. I bought him a light weight cassock for Christmas in 2010. For priests in hot weather, there isn’t a better garb. It looks great, it’s lightweight, and if you can get one with pockets, (or have someone put them in for you), you need never leave home without your wallet and rosary.

    So, carpe diem. I like the place in St. Louis, but I am sure there are other supply companies out there. Oh, and hubby is a tad portly. Nonetheless, he looks great in his cassock and supplice. Getting the beeswax off of it is a challenge, but then, that’s what the Internet is for, right? Finding solutions to the beeswax problem, spreading the faith and buying a cassock!


  • Father Cornell:

    Please check out http://www.catholicsupply.com/churchs/cassock.html. There are cassocks, collars, etc., and I am sure they will ship to your location.

    I will remember you in my prayers today, Father. You are in a difficult spot. Be careful.

    NoraLee Klein

  • nan

    Priests do not take a vow of poverty unless they are in a religious order. Even a vow of poverty does not mean you live like a homeless derelict. It does require a witness to simplicity of life. Diocesan priests do not own their rectories. They are it’s custodian. They do not own it’s furnishings. They are it’s steward. When he is reassigned he takes nothing with him except what he has purchased from his own stipend or whatever family money he may have. So yes, wearing clerical garb is a witness to his simplicity of life. Be careful not to judge.

  • Bruce in Kansas

    My station in life is a married man. If I were to suggest to a non-cleric wearing priest that I was not comfortable being called called “Mr.” and often don’t wear a wedding ring. Would that in itself not call into question my commitment to my station in life?

  • I wish our priests here would be obedient and wear their collar. I love to see the sisters/nuns wearing their habits !

  • Paul Becke

    A dissident voice, I’m afraid:

    “The Roman collar is a sign of priestly consecration to the Lord.”

    Well, it was originated, I believe, by an Italian Passionist priest, St Dominic Barberi, who served in Reading, Berkshire in the UK. He was, I once read, the first clergyman to wear his collar back-to-front. He was also apparently frequently to be seen unshaven! So I’m not sure the dignity of his office in terms of his external appearance would have figured highly on his agenda.

    “By wearing clerical clothing and not possessing excess clothes, the priest demonstrates adherence to the Lord’s example of material poverty.”

    It’s hardly the life of the homeless, itinerant preacher, led by Jesus and the Apostles, is it? No roof over their head, no money to be carried by them, no sandals, no spare tunic. Jesus, we are told, had nowhere to lay his head, and was supported much of the time during his ministry by a group of women followers.

    Nor did they enjoy the middle-class, economic and social status of elders/clergy in subsequent centuries, even in monasteries and convents.

    True physical poverty is to be found among the homeless, who are not so, as a result of fecklessness, but usually as a result of a superior, natural spirituality to the rest of us. Did not James state in his Epistle that Christ chose the poor to be rich in faith?

    If you study the Old Testament, even there, you will find “the rich man” is often referred to in apposition to the ‘wicked man’, a personification, a symbol of wickedness, and ‘the poor man’, in apposition to the true Israel, the virtuous man.

    Nowhere, of course, is that articulated more starkly than during the Good Friday service, when we hear read out the words: “He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, … nor was any deceit in his mouth.”

  • Keep the Faith

    This is why I go to a Traditional Latin Mass parish!

  • dottie

    thank you so much for this article –
    It seems that some priests are ashamed to be in God’s service ! Wear what you want at home – but please wear your collar in public! There was a picture of our former bishop with a group of seminarians in our Catholic newspaper. The bishop was in street clothes (!) as were the seminarians. I lost respect for the bishop the moment I saw the picture. What an example!!
    And for the nuns/sisters who choose not to wear habits, I must say this, why are you ashamed to be a bride of Christ!!

  • sr. Jaqueline

    All religious were were told by Pope John Paul II over 23 years ago to wear the signs of their consecration (viel and habit) Those who disobey are disobedient

  • Wonderfully written and insightful. Going to share! Christians are s set-apart people, and we need to express that to the world in all of our thoughts and actions, and we need those who have been called by God to be set-apart in religious life and the baptized-ordained class to to be joyful of that good news in their dress. The world need to see that sign because coming in contact with the set-apart always provokes inner questions and awakens that struggle we are having with God about how we are living compared to how He has called up to live. Priest please wear your collar and brothers and sisters please wear your habit.

  • Famijoly

    The article was first published 17 years ago and is as relevant as ever today. I was ordained to the priesthood a year after the article was written, and all the reasons given make perfect sense to me. It never occurred to me to “stay away” from clerical garb.

    On days off and vacations and during recreational activities and exercise, I wear something else; and I have allowed myself an “out of uniform” day at the parish from time to time when there were no appointments scheduled and it was mostly an in-the-office day, but those are very much the exception, not the rule. I wouldn’t even dream of not being in collar for Sundays, holy days, weddings, funerals, visiting the homebound and hospitalized, teaching a class, etc.

    The article mentions the heat and humidity of the summer, and I am in a climate that encounters high temperatures and high humidity. My desire to be as “ministerial-looking” as possible on Sundays, holy days, and for funerals and weddings. So wearing the black coat over the black clerical shirt accomplishes this, but I was only wearing the coat to go from the rectory to the church (whereupon I almost immediately vest for confessions and then Mass) and from the church back to the rectory. During the warmer part of the year, which is extended here, it seemed easier to forgo the coat.

    However, a few years ago, I felt myself drawn to wear something I had never worn as a priest, a cassock. I prayed and discerned over whether that yearning was a superficial desire to call attention to myself or a deepening of my vocation. I looked at cassocks on the religious supply houses’ websites, but being a big and tall man, I wondered if any cassock I ordered would fit properly, and, after all, a uniform, to be effective, should fit well. Still, the desire persisted, and, finally, in a phone call about other matters to a brother priest who often wears a cassock, I inquired about where he purchased his cassock, and how to ensure it would fit. He told me about our newest priest in the diocese, who frequently wears a cassock, and how one of his seminary classmates in another diocese has family members who make cassocks. So I asked the parish staff to help take my measurements, and I ordered two cassocks — one regular, one lightweight — complete with fascias and collars.

    I eagerly awaited the day my tailor-made cassocks would come in. At long last they arrived in the middle of Lent 2011. I made the decision to debut the cassock at the Easter Vigil. I have received nothing but favorable responses from parishioners, some even going out of their way the first time they saw me in it to say, “Father, I really like that, it’s very priestly.” And many were moved to repeat those sentiments on several occasions after the first encounter. I wear the cassock for Sundays, holy days, funerals, and weddings, and any comments made about it have always been very positive and upbeat.

  • Mary

    Thank you, thank you for this EXCELLENT ARTICLE!! I agree with all the 23 Reasons in article. Every time I see the visiting Priest dressed in ordinary secular man’s civilian clothes, and the local pastor remove his Roman Collar immediately after Mass to smile happily and ‘greet’ the parishioners to go eat ‘potluck’ downstairs with them ….. I get very sad, and do not wish to see the scene. I get sad because I REMEMBER the Mexican Constitution written under the masonic, atheist Mexican Presidents [1918-1930’s]. My parents fled the Revolution & told me. The Mexican Constitution FORBADE [until just a few years ago] ALL Catholic Priests from wearing Roman Collars and their black clerical cassocks or clerical suits outside in public UNDER PENALTY OF DEATH. The Constitution DEMANDED UNDER DEATH PENALTY ALL Catholic Priests wear men’s secular suits, clothes. I remember Mexican newspaper pictures in books showing bodies of dead Priests & Catholic laymen hanging from telegraph lines. The persecution of the Mexican Catholic Church was particularly vicious under the masonic President Plutarco Elías Calles [1926-1929+]. This persecution of the Mexican Catholic church was suppressed by the Mexican government from being published in school books. The Mexican Martyrs were canonized by Bl. Pope John Paul in 2003. Equal to the Mexican Catholic persecution was the bloody persecution of the Catholic Church in England under Henry VIII and his daughter, bloody Queen Elizabeth I. Today, June 22, we celebrate the Feast of the English Martyrs St. Thomas More and St. John Fischer [1535].
    The new film, “For Greater Glory”, released June 1 in U.S, tells the vicious persecution of the Mexican Catholic Church under masonic Mexican President Plutarco Elías Calles and his federal government [1926-1929+]. The Mexican Catholic Priests, laymen, laywomen, and children died in battles throughout Mexico defending the Catholic Church. Their last cry was: “¡Viva Cristo Rey!” “Long Live Christ the King!” “¡Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!”
    This is the first time a film has ever been made of the Mexican Catholic persecution. Please see this film. People need to wake up and KNOW the courage and heroic martyrdom suffered by these brave Catholic Priests and lay people who died defending the Catholic Church — from the attacks of the powerful federal government military force.

  • MGM

    PRIESTS and NUNS set apart. When I was a young girl (elementary through high school), all the priests were wearing the white floor length garment so are the nuns. We think about God, the church, about sacredness/holiness when we see them. We feel safe, we feel peace when we see them, there is hope and we can’t wait to hear the good news.

    Today, the short haired nun talking in front of a microphone with no religious garment looks, sounds like an activist, its another person doing her own thing and we do not listen to whatever she is saying. I feel betrayed why they are so ashamed to be a witness for Christ.

  • emma lou

    Fr.Cornell Tandiayuk said he lives in Indonesia and cannott buy a Roman collar. How do we help to send him some?
    I love to see a priest wearing his collar and I wish nuns would wear a habit. I know a few do, but I think they are the exception.

    • Joseph Elkins

      If you know anyone from the Philippines, they might be able to help you find the “barong” style Roman Collar. The barong is a loose fitting formal shirt in that hot country. Recently, some Sisters’ group has been making such shirts with a proper Roman collar on it. Perfect for such a hot country like Indonesia. I have seen a missionary wear one when he returned to the USA. It looks just a tad too different here, but still better then civies. But in the East it looks very nice.

  • Shirley J. Schultz

    I have been asking my Parish Priest on a regular basis to wear his clerical collar and garb always, but he just laughs at me. I don’t know what to say to help him understand how important it is for him to “be” a Priest at all times.

  • Anita

    I agree, all those reasons are valid. However, over the years I have known a couple of priests who, though they wore their clerical clothing, deviated from their calling and left the church to marry. One used to wear a cassock and I thought he was a very holy priest. Sadly, this does happen every now and again. Of course, most priests, thank God, are true to their calling and are holy and sincere men. So, though the clerical vlothing is very important, what is in the heart and soul is even more important.

  • Mary

    Amen, Amen!! I love it!!!!!!!!!Praise God for faithful consecrated souls who are not ashamed/fearful to wear the garb indicating their devotion to and love of God.

  • Priests and nuns dressed in their designated outfits give witness to the fact that God exists – and they don’t even have to say a single word.

  • Rita Smith, M.E.V.

    While having a Eucharistic Adoration meeting breakfast at our local diner with my pastor, I noticed two other priests that were not wearing their collars. After the meeting we were leaving and I personally thanked my pastor for wearing his collar and mentioned how it is important for the nuns to wear their habits. We pray for our clergy and religious in these most trying times for our church to remain faithful and persevere with the church scandal.

  • Mark Boever

    For those who look at the priest life as something sacred, the wearing of the roman collar is essential. For those who look at the life of a priest as a modern day social worker it is not a big deal if they are wearing jeans, shorts, sandals and t-shirts as they walk around the Church and society.

    We need the outward sign of the consecrated life today more then ever. We need to see the humilty of the colar or the religious habit in a world were the creature is worshiped above the creator.

    Nothing more disheartening then to see your local priest act as if they are hip being secular.

  • many beautiful reasons!

    In the latin-rite archdiocese where we live, married Latin-rite deacons are forbidden to wear clerical collars (“it would confuse people”)— so ordained clercs are forbidden (all one needs to do is ask- are you a Catholic priest?), but there are plenty of Protestant men and woman wearing clerical collars….sad

  • Helen Brignac

    I really enjoy reading and learning about our catholic faith.

    like to print the info to save and share with my many friends.Trouble is I cannot print it out.

  • virginia bronga

    thank you for such a complete and inspirational list for our holy priests! We pray daily for them and are so blessed to have our parish priests who fit the desciption of a good and holy priest! Thanks be to God

  • Pat

    While I’m in favor of priests and deacons (and bishops) wearing clerical dress (except in the garden or changing the oil in the car), we should acknowledge that this varies from place to place (for example it is still illegal in Mexico and I believe the custom has been different in Germany) What amazes me is the judgmental character of many of the comment here; for example criticism from “reverts” (I imagine the sisters who don’t wear a habit but have remained faithful to their vocation all their lives would be the first to welcome you back!) I’m worried by the way in which people feel they have a mandate to judge others. Even priests who don’t habitually wear the collar are still priests, consecrated to serve the Lord and worthy of our respect. IMHO

  • Mary De Voe

    Consecrated life is not a “job” Consecrated life is a vocation and a lifestyle.

  • Ed

    The article is timely and reminds me of when a visionary in the US stressed the importantce of priests wearing their collars by noting that the Lord told her
    “I have no undercover priests”

  • James

    Another good reason: I don’t have to think about what to wear in the morning. It makes it easier to get ready in the morning and I can get to the adoration chapel earlier. In the winter I can wear the same shirt for a couple of days.
    Also wearing the roman collar is a good limit on one’s vanity. A priest who doesn’t wear his collar has to think about what he is wearing, its appearance and style, which is all wasted energy.
    A priest should be accessible to both the poor and the wealthy. The collar achieves this. If I was wearing civilian clothes then it would have to be a certain style. Poor people might be intimidated if the clothes are too fancy. The wealthy might be put off if the clothes are too shabby. So, when people encounter the roman collar it doesn’t matter what their state in life is.

  • Also I am a long time Eurcharist minister and may God grant many more priesthood vocations so we laity helping clergy this way can return to our pews/seats and have priests once more do their duties not needing our help tho a blessed lay vocation.

  • I am only….and do not mean that lightly a member of the Secular Franciscan Order for Laity an wechave a small wooden cross to wear vas “our habit” and we do and not onlyvas religious functions….so comen Fathets if we laity can show who we are and yes people do ask us that band explains, roman collars are even elf exlanatory…..I longvto see nuns as nuns too…don’t complain the habits are hot…hell is much ladies. I wasctaughtvby wonderful nuns in habits for twelve years even in hot weather and no air conditionng even n chapels OR checked.. Yet another simple pence for ourvsins…exception the illvan elderly.


  • Fr. Cornell Tandiayuk

    I’m a priest. i live in Indonesia, where the majority of people are Moslem. Its so difficult to find the Roman Collar here in my country. It should be imported from another country. Anyone can help?

  • deacon chuck

    I daresay that deacons should be encouraged to wear their collars as well, in keeping with the exemptions noted in canon law; they are ordained and configured to Christ the Servant – another example of how a visible sign is a form of service to others.

  • As the first point stated: The priest dress and collar is the sign of his consecration to the Lord, just as a NUN, a SISTER, by her wearing of her religious clothing/garb shows and gives evidence of her consecration to the Lord. In both, it is the “SIGN” value, but the “WITNESS” Value here that is important. We are not our own, we belong to God: 24/7.
    The Priesthood, a Priest’s Life is a vocation not a career, job or business. And what a PRIVILEGE it is to demonstrate this sign, this witness to society. WE should think of priests who are not allowed to exercise their priesthood in public either by Civil Law where he may live or by prohibition from Canonical Law; the latter of which is really antiquated and vendictive; this doesn’t help the Church nor the priest.

  • Yebrail

    To Barbkw: Many years ago, I was acquainted with a young priest who was the associate pastor at a parish in Michigan. To the dismay of his parishioners (and the pastor), he typically did not like to wear clerical garb. They spent much time praying for him. Finally, he joined the pastor and a number of families on a Holy Family Fest at Catholic Familyland in Ohio. The experience touched him very deeply and taught him the value of his priesthood. Since I last saw him, he has started wearing a black shirt and Roman collar (he still wore jeans, but at least they are black!).

  • Marisa

    It pays to advertise…

  • […] priest chooses not to wear his collar and then debunk them.    This is a follow-up post about the 23 Reasons Why A Priest Should Wear His Collar. Fr. Richard McBrien – "My Roman collar is my television uniform. You don't see the […]

  • Barbkw

    A Protestant pastor officated at my aunt’s funeral.

    He wore a drop down necklace on the outer part of his clerical uniform – a large beautiful Crucifix.


  • Rhea

    I get confused in trying to tell the difference in a roman catholic priest and a protestant pastor who also bears a collar, though.

  • Barbkw

    Fr. Richard,

    Thank you for responding to my post.

    I think most people in a parish want to be close with their priest.

    I’m a regular EWTN viewer (and even as a revert) and I’ll admit that I watch because I want to stay in daily / weekly contact with a number of priests, nuns and lay people who are on there.

    So, confronting my parish priest would be difficult, even talking with others about what I consider are his shortcomings seems against what I should be doing as a lay person.

    I have already rather unintentionally conflicted with Father.

    Last year, I joined RCIA to relearn or to simply learn what I never knew about Catholicism.

    Father made a statement about God the Father being both male and female. He said Sacred Scripture has a couple of verses that quotes God as being a mother.

    Having rather recently divorced myself from radical feminism theology, my radar went bazerk.

    What I heard him attempting to convey was that the Almighty God was both God the Father and God the Mother. (God the Mother is
    rampant in feminist theology and in many Protestant denominations.)

    I agreed with Father that Almighty God has qualities (or displays actions)that a human would see as feminine -as in His creation of the earth & solar system & et al as compared to the way a woman gives birth to children, etc.

    But I said that God the Son called God the Father “Father”. Jesus over and over again made reference to the Almighty as “Father”.

    It was then that one of the sponsors, a Catholic women, added to the conversation that God was only ever seen as God the Father because Jews lived “under” a male dominated society.


    The incident disturbed me and I’ve since found a much better explanation in the Catechism.

    “In no way is God in man’s image. He is neither man nor woman. God is pure spirit in which there is no place for the differences between the sexes.

    But the respective “perfections” of man and woman reflect something of the infinite perfection of God: those of a mother (Isaiah 49:14-15; 66:13; Psalm 131:2-3) and those of a father (Job 31:18; Jer. 3:4-20) and husband (Jer. 3:6-19). [CCC 370]

    I also found an article by Rev. Fabian Bruskewitz titled “Mother God” and it was helpful.

  • Fr. Richard Smith

    Barbkw, my recommendation is for you to discuss this subject with other members of your parish, and have a serious talk with your new priest about this. His attitude reflects that he doesn’t take his job of being a priest seriously enough. If he insists upon his lackadaisical job performance, you either need a replacement for him, or find another parish that more closely adheres to the instructions of the Pope. A priest must command respect for his position as a leader and be someone looked up to. As an officer in the military commands respect with his uniform, so also must a priest with his ‘uniform’.

  • Barb,

    Well said! Thank you.

  • Barbkw

    It concerns me that this article had to be written at all.

    Our church’s new priest (who was ordained 25 years ago) told the parish he was uncomfortable being called “Father” and he often wears civilian clothes.


    Am I supposed to challenge a priest’s mental attitude?

    As a revert to the Church, it took me two years to learn that our parish has nuns.

    Apparently it’s too much to ask that a religous adveritize through dress (or even the wearing of a Cruxifix necklace or pendant) to the congregation that they are a servant to God’s people.

    Why are they the incognito religious?

    So the congregation leaves them alone?

    And we do. So sad.

    As a former military person and present business owner, I’m offended by the message it sends.

    My employees wear a uniform bearing the name of my company. Each employee is my walking billboard and he/she represents my company to our community.

    If a religious doesn’t have enough pride in his/her religious occupation to wear clothes that make them stand out amoung their people, they probably don’t have the courage to address this unChristian society and bring people to Christ.

  • Catherine

    What wonderful insight and encouragement.

    I wish more priests would wear cassocks full-time. It seems to me that the cassock is more of a suit of God’s armor than just the Roman collar alone.

    God bless you and your ministry!

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