Why Deacons Should Wear Clerics


There are many reasons the clerical attire for a Deacon benefits the Church and the People of God.  While some of them are listed in this document, we invite the readers to add their own reasons in the comments to this article by Deacon Bob Cropp.

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There are many reasons the clerical attire for a Deacon benefits the Church and the People of God.  While some of them are listed in this document, we invite the readers to add their own reasons in the comments to this article by Deacon Bob Cropp.

Roman_CollarBy Deacon Bob Cropp (deaconden.org)

While in formation I remember being told that Archbishop Chaput wished that Deacons should wear clerical garb whenever they are representing the Church, which includes serving at Mass.  Beside the fact that it is defined the Archdiocesean Pastoral Handbook, I can think of a number of other reasons this practice is important to the people of God.  Here are some of them.

1. We are Deacons twenty-four hours a day.  Wearing the collar as often as possible reminds us that we are in our Lord’s service and this fact helps us be better persons.  Lieutenant General George S. Patton was once asked why he insisted on soldiers wearing clean uniforms and polished boots in the middle of the war in Europe.  He replied that when a man is properly uniformed he thinks of himself as a soldier serving his nation and his conduct and performance improve as a result of this attitude.

2. Everyone is aware that there is a shortage of priests in our country.  But the very fact that our young people rarely see a priest is, itself, hindering vocations.  “Out of sight; out of mind” is a proverb true more often than not.  The more our young people see other people who have made a commitment to the Church the more they will consider a commitment for themselves.

3. Our society has done its best to marginalize religion and consign it to a privately held belief.  The sight of people wearing roman collars serves to raise the profile of religion in general and Catholicism in particular.  It is an antidote to the efforts of some to reduce religion to being irrelevant.  Wearing clerics has some of the same effects as public religious processions.

4. Wearing clerics in public is an opportunity for evangelization.  Although those fundamentalists who street-preach at the top of their lungs while waving a Bible in our face are likely to do more harm than good, the sight of a man wearing clerics is a public announcement of a deeply held belief.  When I was working in downtown Denver I would pray the Liturgy of the Hours on the train as I commuted.  I was surprised at how often people would ask me what I was reading.  It was an opportunity for evangelization as I would relate the history of praying the Psalms and the continuity of the Catholic Church with the history of Israel and its prophets.  Public reading of the Liturgy of the Hours had much the same affect as wearing clerics in public I’m not in public as much any more but sometimes I have similar experiences when I run errands, in clerics, on my way home from church or go to the airport to pick-up a traveling priest.

5. Wearing clerics creates opportunities for religious education.  A Deacon in street clothes is likely to be seen as “off-duty” by parishioners.  On the other hand when they see a Deacon in clerics they are more likely to enter into conversation with him and ask questions about issues on their minds.  It is much better to answer questions early than to have parishioners slowly drift away from the Church. .

6. In our Protestant and relativist-influenced society statements of religious truth are often taken as matters of opinion.  Wearing clerics gives greater weight to what a Deacon says because it indicates extensive and on-going religious study and knowledge.

7. Wearing clerics when participating in the liturgy is a sign of respect for the sacred duties being performed.  Aside from the individual Deacon’s responsibility to be respectful, this is an example for laity in the parish.

I would summarize these comments by saying that wearing our clerics is a visible sign of our commitment to participate in the New Evangelization promoted by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.

7 Responses to “Why Deacons Should Wear Clerics”

  1. Deacon Ron Ansay

    I would say that wearing the Roman collar indicates that we are truly a son of God sharing in the Sonship of Man’s ministry. I am proud to represent Christ the servant.

  2. Deacon Antonio Sandoval

    I also believe that wearing a dalmatic when assisting at Mass has a similar effect as wearing clerics in public. I used to prefer to simply wear alb and stole, however, the present pastor with whom I am serving insisted that I wear at Sunday Masses and Solemnities during the week days. Since doing this I have noticed a different attitude in the parishioners. They look upon the vocation of the deacon with greater respect.

  3. Deacon George Morin

    We should wear clerics for the purpose of identifying that we are servants of God, all other clerics and all the laity and this visible symbol helps us to develop a loving and living relationship for all who see this instrument of who we are called to be at all times.

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