This year, the ceremony of the taking of the cassock, traditionally held on the Feast of the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple, took place behing closed doors.
Usually the congregation is too large for the chapel, but this year only close family members were allowed to attend this very moving ceremony in the life of a seminarian: taking the livery of Christ and marking, by this habit, his very special belonging to the Church.
On Tuesday, 2nd February 2021, Bishop Alfonso de Galarreta blessed and presented the distinctive habit of the future priest to 20 seminarians: an Englishman (Mr. John Kelly of Kenley, Surrey), a Belgian, a Brazilian, a Spaniard, fourteen French and two Swiss.
In his homily, the Bishop forcefully and insistently recalled the meaning of the clerical habit: the total and complete gift of oneself to Jesus Christ in an act of charity, which necessarily implies sacrifice and renunciation.
Recalling the teaching of Our Lord in the Gospel, the Bishop remined the seminarians of the necessity of dying to self, quoting in particular these words: Amen, amen I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, itself remaineth alone. But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world, keepeth it unto life eternal. (Jn 12:24-25)
Many of the young Levites received the habit in the presence of brother priests or religious - a testimony to the fact that vocations are formed primarily in the home. It was encouraging that old-boys from our Society schools in France were also well represented.
Let us give thanks to God for this day. Pray for these seminarians that they may persevere and let us continue to pray that the Lord will send more and more workers into His harvest.