This might seem like a simple endeavor for the average layperson, but there is often more to it than meets the eye. While being ordained as a priest means having the ability to be the celebrant at all, or most of, the seven Sacraments, that isn’t the only thing to consider. Confirmation is traditionally celebrated by the diocesan bishop or archbishop as the case may be, but there are also holy orders which is a sacrament bestowed by bishops. The other five may be celebrated by ordained priests. However, here is where the situation gets a little cloudy.
Is the Newly Ordained Priest a Diocesan or Order Priest?
Although you could buy garments such as a chasuble or other priest vestments online at a site like www.holyart.com, there are some things you may not be able to give both diocesan and order priests. For example, order priests wear vestments specific to their order as you can probably readily identify Franciscan priests by the traditional brown robe and white rope around the waist. However, there are also Franciscan priests in white and blue as well, but you understand the point being made. Diocesan priests usually wear the traditional priestly white collar and a black vest or jacket. In a case like this, it is easy to discern the difference in wardrobe. Nonetheless, you may not want to give vestments as a gift, especially if you are uncertain as to the requirements of their diocese or order.
Secular Gifts vs. Religious Gifts
Sometimes even religious gifts can be frowned upon in certain situations. The first thing to determine would be what kinds of gifts are allowable, for lack of a better word. It starts with their vows of obedience. When it comes to diocesan priests, they vow to obey their diocesan bishop and each of his successors. Order priests, on the other hand, vow commitment and obedience to the order in which they are being ordained. Jesuits, for example, take three vows which are poverty, chastity, and obedience. Diocesan priests, on the other hand, vow to live a simple life and cannot live beyond the means of the people they serve. So then, if you want to give a religious lapel pin, then you would probably not want one in 24 karat gold with precious gems. Even if the recipient is your son, the pin, although sacred, would speak of worldly wealth over that which is from above.
Key Points to Take Away
In the end, your first takeaway should be to determine if they are a diocesan priest or an order priest, sometimes referred to as “secular” or “religious” priests. You can always research diocesan or order rules they must live by when taking vows to be ordained and go from there. If they are required to abide by a specific dress code, then garments might be a bit tricky to choose. However, there are some things all priests can use such as items for the Liturgy like a paten and chalice set. Although you want to celebrate their commitment, the key is to remember their vows. Religious gifts suit any occasion without interfering with the vows they’ve taken.