Posted April 21st, 2007 | Events, Food for the Soul

I had the opportunity to accompany the Vocation Director for the Archdiocese of Baltimore to visit a seminarian from my parish at his college seminary in Providence, Rhode Island. He and another Baltimore seminarian (actually a Hagerstown local) were adapting (actually thriving) quite well in college seminary life. It was such a joy to see them both.

As college candidates, they do not yet wear the Roman Collar until they enter major seminary. It’s actually quite a BIG DEAL putting on that Roman Collar for the first time. I look forward to that day when the Roman Collar will be associated, not just to our elder brothers who have given years of experience to the priesthood, but also to the young men who are “old enough” to be Fathers in Faith. In other words, I look forward to the day when people will see that Priesthood, like Fatherhood, starts at a young age!

We took a quick 48 minute flight to Providence. Two priests in Roman Collars walking onto a plane is quite a site! People could use this scenario as a “bar joke.” You may have heard me speak about my Roman Collar plane experiences before, but put two of us together and it’s a whole different ball game. Needless to say, much attention was given to us, especially since we sat at the emergency exit row!

The same was true for our ride home. But this time, Fr. Jerry and I sat between two young women, both of whom had Catholic upbringing and are still practicing their faith in beautiful ways. It’s truly amazing to see what the “sign of faith” can do for people. The Roman Collar speaks volumes!

One of the young women had a prayer she kept in her binder, which she shared with me – obviuosly because I was a priest. She prayed this prayer before her exams (which she passed – congratulations!). It was a beautiful, heartfelt and sincere prayer for personal growth in God’s peace. Hopefully she will share this prayer with others, whether they have a Roman Collar, Religious Habit or not. The prayer reminded me of St. Francis. Remember, his humble presence, perhaps like the Roman Collar, can speak volumes to a world that’s so hungry for religious “signs” from God!

St. Francis would say, “Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary use words!” Fr. Jerry and I didn’t say much in the airport. We kept to ourselves and chatted – we’re great friends. But, the fact that we both had on our Roman Collars drew attention and reminded people (and reminded us) that God is in our midst. All that because of a white piece of plastic around a black collar shirt.


Fr. Leo

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