Priest Without Collar In Public


I had dinner the other day with two of my priest friends. Just at a local tavern/grill. We had just left a diocese meeting and they were both wearing clerics. It took us almost four hours to finish our sandwiches and a (one each) glass of beer.

At least 15 people came over to “talk”. Most wanted to ask for us to pray for someone they knew, several requested a blessing, and at one point, I and the one priest got up and left for a few minutes so the other priest could have the booth to hear a confession.

When priests are in public, and recognizable, the requests are not just occasional or “every now and then”; they are constant.

. . . and we just wanted a quick bite to eat, a beer and little casual conversation. Even priests are entitled to some “downtime” every now and then.

You have no idea what the life of a priest is like.


I get the impression that you made a mistake, you’re embarrassed, and now you want to somehow find a way to blame it all on the priest (or bishop as the case may be).

Just take it as a lesson in humility and move on.


I went to dinner at a local pub with my husband who is a deacon after Saturday’s mass. He was in his clerics. We walked in and a guy at the first table said “Everybody behave now Father’s here.” Needless to say he now wears other clothes when we go out.
Clergy and laity all just need time for some harmless fun without worrying about other people.


Seems like you are being pretty hard on a guy based on a 2 second snapshot from meeting him at a fair. Just my $.02. There are a whole lot of assumptions being made on your part about his normative behavior as a priest without any evidence.


Of course I did. Your reply made it even worse – in addition to “cowardly,” you now accuse priests of “hiding who they are.”
If baseless insults to me make you feel better, go for it. But insulting priests is a serious matter.


He’s not exactly “hiding” who he is if he’s being introduced as a bishop. There isn’t some obligation to perpetually and publicly proclaim his vocation. And many people don’t wear a wedding ring – it’s a cultural tradition, certainly not a requirement.

The upshot of this situation is that you behaved rudely, you apologized and moved on. But please don’t try to blame the bishop for your impolite behavior.


Feel better? Not really. But sometimes it kinda stinks when the same wording of a reply thrown back at you, right?


Yet even Jesus Christ left the crowds when He was exhausted to take time to rest.

Human beings need time for necessary rest, yes even vocations can be demanding. Priesthood, motherhood, being a husband can all be causes of burnout but you already know that. Healthy recreation and relaxation is refreshing for the soul! I don’t believe the Catholic Church requires anyone to be “on” always without an occasional break. God bless you.


The bishop is not succumbing to anything negative in this situation. He is not required to be in clerics at all time unless the bishop-ordinary has so decreed. And not wearing a collar is hardly hiding holiness, nor is it a cause for confession.

This was a scenario where the OP was introduced to the bishop, and responded rudely to the introduction. He appears to be attempting to justify his bad manners by somehow blaming the bishop.


Of course. But this is regarding time among many people. Another way to put it is being among many opportunities to grab the people’s attention and draw them, by example, to the faith.


You make a valid point. Are you doing that in your own vocation? How are you proclaiming the gospel to those around you?


If you can, kindly disregard my post. Dunno how to delete.


Let me ask you this. Suppose a priest was in their civilian clothes and they were driving on a highway and came up to a bad car wreck or a shooting where someone may be dying. Are priests duty bound to stop and offer last rites if requested? Maybe the medics are already there or on the way.

No one would know, and the priest certainly doesn’t even know if the victim is Catholic.


Forgive me, I don’t understand what you mean. Jesus clearly left people that wanted to see Him in order to rest.

Necessary rest is part of God’s plan going back to Genesis!

I can understand feeling awkward or not understanding why a priest would wear plain clothes. However implying that it’s cowardly is very unkind when he might be on his day off. Just my two cents. God bless.


I appreciate that you attach great significance to the sign value of priests dressing in clerics. Indeed, wearing them in public settings can provide opportunities to evangelize. But you’re crossing the line with comments like this. It is not charitable to presume that a priest or bishop who is dressed in plain clothes is trying to “hide who they are” or are being “cowardly.”


Only one of the many priests I’ve dealt with in the last 20 years has worn clericals when out and about. They don them for official functions but otherwise they’re in civvies. It’s a small community so everyone knows who they are.


I have seen our parish priest show up at parish events not wearing a collar (events where he is not needed there as an official, but is in attendance as a person in the crowd, as it were)- especially if the event is outdoors on a hot day. I can tell you that our parish priest is so on fire with the Holy Spirit you don’t NEED the collar to pick him out of a crowd. He’s always running around, talking to people, talking about his faith (even in his time off!) and loving the daylights out of people. He’s more of a role model to me in that respect than the fact that he’d wear a stiff collar and hot shirt to 90 degree outdoor events. shrug


I imagine it varies from place to place. My experience is somewhat the opposite. Most of the priests I have interacted with over the years do wear their clerics most of the time—some quite deliberately so. Many of them even wear the more traditional cassock quite frequently.

But even they don’t wear their collar all the time.


How would the situation be different if they were in clerics? It’s not as if someone would recognize that as they were zipping by on the freeway.


I would imagine the bishop probably didn’t take offense. He would likely just assume you’re not a Catholic because people who are unfamiliar with the Catholic Church might easily imagine, as you did, that no priest ever appears in public wearing ordinary clothes. Police officers aren’t required to wear uniform when they’re off duty. The same goes for the Army, Navy, and Air Force … and the priesthood.

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