As happens from time to time, there was a discussion recently on a diaconate Facebook page about deacons wearing the Roman collar.

I’ve posted on this often in the past — and a couple years ago, I offered this insight from Deacon Bill Ditewig on the topic.

But today my friend Byzantine Father Daniel Dozier (until recently, Deacon Daniel Dozier) offered a striking testimony. I reprint it here with his kind permission:

Clerical garb is a visible marker of a publicly consecrated person. Deacons are publicly consecrated persons. That is what ordination is.

Very recently I was ordained a priest in Phoenix. Prior to my ordination, after making my profession of faith to my Bishop, my wife and I walked a short distance from the Cathedral back to the hotel. I was wearing my cassock and skufia with no cross, since I was not yet a priest.

When we got back to the room, I went to go grab a bottle of water, and I came back and a man was standing there talking to my wife. He had seen us walking and had seen my clerical garb and wanted to learn more. It turns out he was a fallen away Catholic, and as we spoke you could see him being moved by the conversation. My wife and I talked to him about the faith of our Byzantine church, and he asked many questions, and by the end, I gave him my prayer rope for his wrist and taught him the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner,” and he was deeply moved almost to tears and we agreed to pray for each other.

I went and was ordained a priest and when we returned to the hotel, he was there and greeted me and I gave him my priestly blessing.

Two things to note: He would not have approached us at all had he not seen me in my clericals, and having a wife as a deacon and a priest is a great blessing.

So all this nonsense about “not needing clericals” completely misses the point. If you are a deacon, you don’t need clericals, other people need you in clericals. If I had been in my suit and tie or polo shirt with a deacon pin, I would have missed a divine appointment, and every personal encounter is an eternal responsibility.