Seminarians in black rock for Pope Benedict

April 19, 2008

Priest at youth rally for Pope Benedict, 19 April 2008/poolAt a rock concert on Saturday in the grounds of a seminary in Yonkers, just north of New York City, thousands of young Catholics mixed with hundreds of seminarians dressed in long black cassocks or black suits. The mosh pit in front of the stage was a sea of clerical black as the young seminarians jumped, clapped and danced to the music in brilliant sunshine.

“I give them a lot of credit for being willing to wear them on such a hot day,” said Maggie Coyne, 18, a student at Albertus Magnus High School in Rockland County, NY, who was due to present a gift to Pope Benedict on stage.

“It is a little outdated but it shows that they deserve respect. They’re doing a tremendous thing,” she said.

Her friend Gabriella Fiorentino, 18, a student at the Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx, said “A lot of people are worried that there’s not enough new priests coming in.”

“I think (their clothes) are a great way to show that there are, and that they are still interested,” she added.

A nun waiting for Pope Benedict at the Papal Youth Rally at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, New York, 19 April 2008/Erin Siegal

There were also quite a few young nuns in light-coloured habits, nothing like the black the nuns used to wear.

Clerical styles in the Catholic Church changed after the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and many priests and nuns started wearing civilian clothes more frequently. But cassocks have made a comeback, especially among more conservative young priests and seminarians. And there seem to be more nuns back in habits, but with more style.

Conor King and his friend Joe Federico, both 15 and from Livingston High School in New Jersey, don’t think priests’ outfits should be updated.

“They keep it on so we’re reminded that they’re clergy,” King said. “It’s part of the Church and I don’t think it should be changed.”

But Courtney Mooney, 13, a student at Nanuet Senior High School in Rockland County, NY, was less convinced: “Maybe if they created something respectful but less formal that would be good.”

What do you think? When they’re out in public, should priests wear cassocks and nuns wear habits like they used to? Or should they dress in lay clothes, maybe with a single outward sign (a cross lapel pin for priests and head covering for nuns?) that they are religious?


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your article about R. Guiliani being observed receiving communion at the Mass at Yankee stadium without the sanction of the RC church was totally inappropriate and perhaps even inaccurate. The standing of an individual within the RC church is between that individual and the church.

Posted by linda | Report as abusive

I’m for having the clergy wear their Roman collar and
cassocks as well as the nuns again wearing habits.

In addition it may help if lay Catholics were united
by either wearing a lapel pin or head dress to idicate
that they are Catholic like some other religions do.

Posted by Joseph Babits | Report as abusive

There’s economic injustice in the Archdiocese when it comes to their lay people in the schools and you’re profiling clergy fashion? My, how Nero fiddles while Rome burns.

Posted by John S. Drew | Report as abusive

[…] Seminarians in black rock for Pope Benedict Reuters – USA … day,” said Maggie Coyne, 18, a student at Albertus Magnus High School in Rockland County, NY, who was due to present a gift to Pope Benedict on stage. … See all stories on this topic […]

Posted by Pope, Vatican, & Catholic News » Blog Archive » Benedict connects with American youth | Report as abusive

The photo of the nun in blue I took (see Reuters photo above) certainly wasn’t the only one- I was very surprised at the number of nuns in color!

Posted by Erin Siegal | Report as abusive

I think they (mentioned in the article) are precious. Coming from the “outside”, I think the “uniform” of any Christian should be humble and modest, and women wearing a covering or veil of some kind in service. Do Catholic Nuns and Priests or any other Roman Catholic clergy really need a separate and apart from other Christians type of uniform? I suppose it helps, if you want to distinguish yourself from other Christians, but I am glad if they merely separate themselves in appearance from the world (who often dress loudly and immodestly, and women like men and men like they don’t care what you think).

Posted by LisaM | Report as abusive

The Pontiff seemed to enjoy his visit to the States,and we sent him our love.
His message was of hope and still it not difficult to believe that the easiest prayer of all is hope.


dePaul Consiglio

Posted by dePaul Consiglio | Report as abusive

I wear my collar (I’m a Catholic Priest) and I think it helps more than it hinders. I can walk into a hospital anytime to visit parishioners – the kids in the primary and secondary schools have great trust in their priest (despite some rotten apples who have abused them) and for the great unwashed who think that God is dead and religion with it, it may be a timely reminder that some live by the Gospel. It is above all a call to simplicity – while I have a few casual shirts, I have one ‘full’ collar and 6 t-shirts: my working clothes cost about $10 a week and that includes purchase, washing, replacement etc

Posted by hitherwood | Report as abusive