Yesterday the subject came up about what people were wearing to the Romanian picnic, which was held after the 10:00 AM Sunday Liturgical service. The answer seemed to be whatever was comfortable according to ones work station or preference. Yet, one person chose to bring up the subject of how our priest should be dressed. He and some other's suggested that Fr. should have his collar on. Otherwise, people would constantly be asking "where is the priest?" I say, what about his comfort?
Most people know who our priest is, and, as he is involved in the community, most new people I spoke with, told me they were coming to the picnic because they personally know him from the organizations he serves. For example, there were several from the Rotary, a couple of tables from the local radio station, and several Town Councilors. I saw firemen, as he is a chaplain serving Dudley and helps by filling-in in Southbridge.
Other people there were his face book friends and other friends that he's made from the Thompson speedway, and many from Worcester, as he has served organizations such as, the nursing home. Then, there are the local collages, being a Nichols College Professor. Since he wears so many hats, I cannot name all of them. Most recently, he's known to engage in lawnmower racing, and is newly elected to serve on the Bay Path Regional High School Committee.
Our priest has been known to reach out to people everywhere, every age and is relentless in helping those in need. More recently, is his quest to feed the lonely and hungry, a new program in which he cooks for many others. That is, in addition to the food bank that he is also involved in, such as the local Food Share program. Trust me, he is known by many.
I think you get the picture. It isn't that we would have to constantly point him out to others, because Fr. Peter has many friends. That person was viciously trying his hand at controlling the good father by his suggestion. I wish I didn't have to tell him otherwise, (that in fact, I found his suggestion wrong). It is my opinion that this is just another power struggle, controlling and unfounded.
I wonder why anyone would take offense to a nice white shirt and a straw hat at a picnic. Get a life, or better still mind your own P's and Q's. You dressed comfortably by your own choice or, did someone else tell you what you had to wear.
You know what father Peter has learned, young priest as he is, is that relating to people is far more important than how you look. In all honesty, do you feel as comfortable with a person who is staring back at you wearing a dress with a collar? How do you think this applies to the younger generation of today? Does the collar make him different somehow? Or, does it make you different. Is it like a police car with all the lights and decals which may cause you to act differently, guarded-- because of consequences.
Stop putting on false airs. Stop trying to control others. Believe me, he knows he's a priest and he doesn't need a ball and chain to prove it. Some priests feel comfortable in their collars even at picnics. Their choice. Through the years priests have been bullied and pushed around in order to keep their parishioners happy at the expense of their own comfort.
It is time to let go of your old-fashioned ideas. Take a deep breath when someone starts foolish rumors about picnic dress codes and have the courage to turn your head the other way. Father is just writing the wrong, the wrong that was inflicted on clergy for generations.
He is free and approachable, and the young people I spoke with agreed that one should not hide behind one's collar, tie or anything else that puts you above someone else. After all when we remove those garments, aren't we all the same? I guess not, but it goes way beyond ones dress code. There is a time and place for proper attire that defines us, but not at a picnic.
Expecting Father to wear a collar is the same as judging a book by its cover. Judging all priest to be the same is undeniably a mistake as they are like night and day. You should be happy that ours is down to earth, approachable, outreaching and humble enough to be himself, especially at a picnic.
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