The Roman Catholic Church in The Bahamas is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope. The diocese was elevated to a full diocese, as the diocese of Nassau in June 1960. On June 22nd, 1999, the diocese was again elevated as the new Archdiocese of Nassau.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

There's power in the uniform!

It comes to me that certain jobs that require its employees to wear uniforms get all the respect. These individuals are easily identified by the clothing they wear based on the job for which they perform. A few examples being; Doctors can be found in a white coat with a stethoscope around their neck, firefighters wear big jackets with big boots and a hard hat for head protection, then there are the pilots who can be identified in navy or black pants, a white shirt with three or four stripe epaulets along with a Captain's hat.

No matter what the job is or how well the individual can do it, those in uniform are respected non the less. This notion holds true also to our Clergy members. Archbishop Patrick Pinder should be commended for assigning a full time Priest, Fr. Anselm Russell to Aquinas College Catholic High School during this new school year. From the very first day of school Fr. Russell has kept in uniform making himself easily identifiable as a Catholic Priest to the students. I'm looking forward to the day when Sister Patricia Abueme of the Benedictine sisters of Nassau, the new nun assigned to the school,  come to school dressed in her habit or veil.

A Catholic radio show host on an XM radio channel recently did an experiment to see how must attention and respect he would get by putting on a priest's white collar. Priests within the Catholic Church can be identified by their white collar on a black suit of clothing. The radio show host came to the radio station dressed in a black pants and black shirt and so decided to put on a white collar. An employee of the radio station saw him almost everyday in regular clothing but was taking back by how he was dressed on this particular day. The employee probably felt like asking him for a blessing or wondered if he had ever said anything out of the way during the course of them crossing each other each and everyday. The radio show host kept the collar on most of the day and indeed received a certain level of respect from employees who thought he truly was a priest and from pedestrians as he left the building.

It has become customary during the 20th century that couples be identified as being married to one another by a ring on their ring finger, usually their left hand. The ring signifies the love between both couples and their promise to be faithful to each other. As a married man I am required to always wear my wedding ring to signify to the world that I am spoken for, not because it is a law, but rather out of respect for my wife. This leads to the question regarding our Priests and the attire in which they are easily identified as such. When out in public should our priests be required to wear their collar or are they considered off duty such as a police officer, fire fighter or as a pilot would be?

As per canon 284 priests are asked to wear a black suit and a Roman collar when outside of liturgical duties. By wearing the Roman collar our priests expresses their consent to the priestly ministry to which they have been called. There are numerous reasons why priests should wear the Roman Collar. Priests become a model to others wanting to walk in the footsteps of Jesus as he represents "persona Christi". Have secular society pulled us into the illusion that times are changing, therefore we must go with the times. Catholics I've spoken with, who are in their 60's recall when they grew up, how priests were always in full attire no matter where they went. Their presence were visible because of the Roman collar that identified them as Catholic Priests. Clothing does not make the priest, however it does signify that they are leaders within the Church.

Being called to serve as a priest is not for everyone and that is why it can only be considered a calling from God. It can not be thought of as a career or hopeful profession. Of course priests like any member of the Church require a break from daily routine, just as when Jesus went away at times to be alone and pray, however the duty as a priest can not be thought of as a 5 day work week where the uniform is hung up and only put on when the shift begins. Priest become a magnet for people struggling with daily life challenges, who find comfort in knowing that they are there, if only to see Christ's presence in them. By being in a Roman collar while out and about on the streets can deter people from doing wrong when they see a priest thus confirming the power of the uniform. Many words have been withdrawn and many actions withheld when a priest shows up in full attire, thus the example of the Catholic radio show host's experiment of wearing a collar.

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