From a reader:
My friend was just ordained to the Diaconate, and will be ordained to the Priesthood next year. This leaves me with a question regarding etiquette when addressing him now, and then later when he’s a priest.
Being that we’ve been friends since junior high, I’m left wondering if I’m supposed to start calling him Deacon N and later Father N out of respect for him, his changed state in life, and his vocation, or if it’s still fine to not use titles unless we’re doing something liturgical?
Definitely call him “Father” in public. In private too, until he makes it clear how the two of you are going to do this. He’ll let you know.
I am glad you were concerned enough to ask.
Aside: I am concerned about the erosion of decorum in our times. I would not be sad to see, rather hear, a return of the use of honorifics or titles even, say, between spouses. Think… Jane Austen:
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.
“My dear Mr. Bennet,” said his lady to him one day, “have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last?”
I times past spouses would, in other languages, address each other by “vous”, “Sie”, “Voi/Lei”.