Altar boy vestments


From what I can tell, the dress for altar servers, deacons, and priests has had lots of variation over the years. And it still does.

In the parish where I grew up all altar servers wore black cassocks all the time. I’m pretty sure that must have been all we had. Back then, seminarians, deacons, and priests all wore roman collars, (at least when in public.) Of course there were no permanent deacons then.

Now the seminarians no longer wear attire that clergy wear. Outside of liturgy, permanent deacons “on duty” usually wear deacon polo shirts. Or they might wear a deacon pin on the collar of a regular shirt. I have now idea if transition deacons have any special rules regarding dress. The dress for altar servers varies from parish to parish. Those at my parish wear brown robes.


When I was growing up, my parish had reversible cassocks - black on one side, red on the other. We wore black for weekday Masses and red on Sundays and Holy Days. We also had plain white surplices for weekday Masses but special ones that had red crosses stitched on them at the hem for Sundays and Holy Days.


I’ve worn my collar outside of the seminary to serve Masses, and I’ve been confused for a priest at least once :sweat_smile:. I’m very careful not to spend too much time in cassock/clericals outside of Mass, though. Seminary is weird in that you don’t have the privileges of being a full cleric yet, but you’re also not quite a layperson too.

It is my opinion that permanent deacons should be allowed to wear the collar. They are full clerics and should have the same privileges to wear clerical clothing.


Strange, because here in my UK parish, the PD is definitely titled Rev.

This is another example of the downside of Bishops being given authority to decide things. The use of Rev. or not has implications as to how PDs are viewed, indicating whether they are valued and ordained, or considered inferior to someone with half their age and experience.

It’s like how some dioceses decree that Confirmation be administered at a young age, while the next door diocese says it should be in the teenage years. They can’ t all be right.
In the last 15 years, my archdiocese has gone from FHC at 7 and Confirmation around 14, to combining the two but at 8 years old, to splitting them again and Confirming around 15. At each change, catechesis materials are brought out to explain how the new scheme is now correct. I almost despair sometimes.


It’s my understanding that deacons are addressed as “Rev Mr” and priests are “Rev” in official correspondence…although when I’ve emailed either it’s usually been “Dn” or “Fr”…seminarians we usually just address by their names.


Many dioceses, particularly in the US, seem to struggle to acknowledge their permanent deacons as clergy with corresponding titles and clerical attire and further the confusion with seminarians having opposing standards.


Fairly common in some parts of Europe. particularly Italy/Vatican City.


I guess technically, the formal title to address a seminarian is just Mr. (First +) Last Name. Unless they’re a transitional deacon, then it’s Rev. Mr.


Albs with built in velcro cinctures are the easiest to fit and launder.


I went to one church where the altar servers wore white albs with colored cinctures. The color of the cincture was ranked based on how many years you had served-- a first-year altar server would wear white. Then there was a grade for red, green, gold, etc, in whatever order they had picked.

I went to another church where the altar servers wore white albs with colored cinctures, but the cinctures were color-matched to the liturgical color of the day. So if it’s a Sunday in Ordinary Time, they wear green; if it’s a martyr’s feast, they wear red; if it’s a feast, they wear gold; if it’s Lent or Advent, they wear purple; etc.

Now, my church has transitioned to black cassocks and white surplices.


They still are in many setting – such as at the Vatican.

A priest’s stole and not the Roman collar is the mark of a priest’s authority.


Yes, exactly. The cassock (or whatever variation of it) and collar is clerical dress. Clerical, as in not confined only to priests. Serving is properly speaking a clerical function, and there are many famous men in history that were received in minor orders so that they may assist in the liturgy, such as St. Thomas More and Franz Liszt (there is even a picture of him in cassock/collar).


I think one thing causing reticence today in allowing altar servers to wear the Roman collar is the advent of female altar servers. Unlike the alb which is the garment proper to all baptized Catholics, the cassock and Roman collar are clerical garb, long on loan to acolytes and altar boys.

It’s quite distressing to see a woman cross-dress and wear a cassock and surplice in the Church. It would only be made worse if such cross-dressing also included the Roman collar.


Until the Permanent Deacoms in my diocese can wear them, like the clerics that they are, I will be a very strong opponent of altar boys and seminarians being allowed to wear the Roman collar.

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