Dear Editor: It’s interesting that the two photos of former NBA referee Deacon Steven M. Javie of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia are shown with his appearing in a referee uniform and a clergy shirt with Roman collar (“Former NBA Referee Makes Spiritual Call, Aug. 31).
Without his NBA uniform, a player wouldn’t know that he was a referee. And with that uniform, the authority of the NBA is exemplified.
I spent over 20 years as an Officer on the New York City Police Department and found that the respect shown to the uniform was significantly greater than when I worked in plain clothes. With Deacon Javie’s shirt and collar, one could identify him as clergy.
I would believe, and, I hope, most of my brother deacons do, that in this time of dwindling numbers of priests and the increasing pastoral role of permanent deacons, deacons in every diocese should be permitted to wear clerical garb while performing rites and Church and community related functions, those traditionally performed by a priest.
Presently, for example, deacons are called upon to officiate at funeral vigil services, conduct baptisms and prayer services, visit hospitals and homes, teach classes, represent pastors at community events, etc. Many deacons perform administrative duties in the Diocese and at Parish-level.
Frankly, a suit and the Saint Lawrence Cross lapel pin just doesn’t garner the attention and respect that our office should have. We are, after all, clergy too, according to the Sacrament of Orders which we received.
Deacon Fred Ritchie
Editor’s note: Deacon Ritchie is the Director of Faith Formation at the Saint Columba parish in Brooklyn.