by MICHAEL OTTO
A senior deacon in Auckland is encouraging his fellow deacons to wear Roman collars when in public.
Deacon David Marshall, who coordinated the introduction of the permanent diaconate in Auckland diocese, gave this encouragement in a blog posting last year.
The blog, named DoDD, is accessible through a website (www.keepitcatholic.net) that Deacon Marshall set up last year.
The website is described as an initiative of the permanent diaconate in Auckland diocese.
On his blog, stressing that he was only writing about the permanent diaconate, Deacon Marshall wrote that deacons should not hide their light under a bushel.
“Be seen and be present. Wear your collar, even if it attracts ridicule,” he wrote.
A deacon is “called to operate in two spheres at once, a creative catalyst in both Church and world,” he explained.
“That places him on duty wherever he may be.
“Just as motorists display their headlights on gloomy days, not so they can see the road ahead, but so that others might see them, a deacons displays his Catholic identity,” Deacon Marshall continued.
“The most recognisable symbol is the Roman collar.”
Deacon Marshall added a rider to his blog that “much of what is expressed here is opinion and not necessarily the official view of the Catholic Church”.
According to the Code of Canon Law, clerics are to wear suitable ecclesiastical garb according to the norms issued by the conference of bishops and according to legitimate local customs (Canon 284). But a further canon (288) states that permanent deacons are not bound
by this provision unless particular law states otherwise.
NZ Catholic understands that the general norm in Auckland diocese is that when deacons are officially ministering as deacons, it is appropriate for them to wear clerical garb.
A comment from one deacon to Deacon Marshall’s blog posting admits that wearing the collar while visiting a hospital has enabled recognition, which has led to him being approached.
But another deacon’s comment warned of confusion caused by wearing the collar in hospitals. People could think the deacon is a priest and ask for the sacrament of Reconciliation, only to be told that the deacon will then ask for a priest. “Hence, perhaps they view me as an imposter or a fraud,” the comment continued.
In 2009, New Zealand’s bishops agreed that guidelines for formal, informal and casual occasions be recommended to priests, with room for adaptions by diocesan bishops.
by MICHAEL OTTO