A nice thing just happened

A great thing just happened which surprised me greatly.

As we are – right now – boarding a flight, a young lady who had paused next to me seat said in a strong voice: “Happy Year of Priests, Father!”

A great surprise and shot in the arm.

We are barely into the first day of this Year and this wonderful affirmation of Pope Benedict’s project and vision comes out of the blue and in a public place with people listening and watching.

This sweet twenty-something traveler gave a witness to her faith and identity in public and performed a work of charity!

She must have made a plan to do things like this.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Maureen says:

    Given how many people love to say, “Thank you for your service” to military folks or law enforcement officers or firefighters and EMTs, it doesn’t surprise me that the trend might extend a bit further.

    Like military and emergency personnel, priests have a lot of sympathetic allies they don’t know about; and maybe those allies and sympathizers might decide to stop hanging back to give priests privacy and start speaking out to give priests support.

  2. Allison says:

    Indeed Father, Happy Year of the Priest. Our family is so honored to pray, in a special way, for our priests and you are one of our favorites!

  3. Miguel says:

    This is great!

    If I see a priest in public, I always try to acknowledge and greet them. Sometimes they look very surprised by this, but I think most of them appreciate it.

    If traveling on business, co-workers will often say, “Do you know him?” and I try to use the instance to explain how important the priesthood is to us, in a positive way.

  4. RJSciurus says:

    Wonderful. May her year be blessed in many ways as well.

  5. Allan says:

    I will get no marks for originality, but I fully intend to steal the idea myself. Good on her!

  6. LCB says:

    Fr. Z,

    You wear your collar at airports and on planes?

    Yowza. That is dedication. I know many good and faithful priests who tried that– ONCE– and have horror stories to tell.

  7. DeborahAnne says:

    What a beautiful testament of this young woman’s Catholic identity. Father, thank you for sharing this joyful moment. It has lifted my heart and invigorated me.

    May this Year of the Priests be your most joyful and fruitful.
    Quod incepimus conficiemus

  8. That’s just beautiful, Father! And inspiring to me as another young lady. I need to try to imitate the example she set.

  9. LCB says:


    I wonder what the odds are that she reads this blog? :-D

  10. Jack says:

    Not only a testiment to the young woman’s Catholic Identity but to Fr’s (a couple of priests I know wear civies in public)

  11. Matthew says:

    LCB, I can second your comment. I know a priest who when he was young wore his blacks and collar on the plane and got shaken up by someone who isn’t very fond of Catholics.

    On the other hand, I know an elderly priest who once wore his blacks and collar on the plane. He was sitting in economy class when a stewardess kindly tapped him on the shoulder and said “Come with me Father.” He followed her. She presented him with a comfy and spacious seat in first class!

    Thanks for sharing that great story Father Z!

  12. Elke Strunk says:

    Wonderful and beautiful! I find it inspiring for myself – will try to do similar things!

  13. TJM says:

    The young really restore my faith in the Faith – that there is hope, notwithstanding the left-wing loons and all of their negativity as exemplified by
    the National Anti-Catholic Reporter and America Magazine. Thanks for sharing this Father Z and Happy Year of the Priest to you. Tom

  14. Charivari Rob says:

    Indeed, a nice gesture by the young lady.
    Interesting, though, how several prople seem to have made the assumption that she’s Catholic.

  15. wsxyz says:

    LCB, I can second your comment. I know a priest who when he was young wore his blacks and collar on the plane and got shaken up by someone who isn’t very fond of Catholics.

    So that’s it then? Sorry Jesus, I don’t want to carry this cross anymore!

  16. Rose says:

    This idea of the Holy Father’s to celebrate a Year of Priests is absolutely inspired- equal to the idea of “World Youth Day”. I’m motivated to do something-maybe get the TLM at my parish and contribute to financially getting it
    to happen.

  17. Jason says:

    What a kind and thoughtful gesture on the part of one of my peers! I am planning on writing some notes of appreciation for my parish priests and for my uncle who is celebrating his 20th year as priest.

    A question for the readers out there: I sometimes see clerics in public wearing their Roman collar but am hesitant to greet them with “hello father…” on the chance that they might not be a Catholic priest. Obviously if it’s a woman wearing a collar they are not Catholic, but what about the case of the flight attendant who offered the elderly priest a 1st class upgrade? I suppose it would not be the worse thing in the world (maybe) if a protestant minister was mistaken for a priest, but I guess I’m just a little on the timid side and would be embarrassed if I was wrong.

  18. James says:

    Father Z.,

    I’m at the Institute for Priestly Formation this summer in Omaha, and the community of seminarians, priests and staff just celebrated a wonderful mass for the Feast of the Sacred Heart. It was also dedicated to all priests, who so generously give their lives for God and Church. What an exciting time in the Church for the reaffirmation of the ministry of the priesthood. May God bless all priests in abundance.

  19. Pes says:

    I will certainly wish the same to any priest wearing a collar!

    Otherwise, how could we tell they’re priests? Visible signs are important!

    When I express this, some boomer types have sniffed imperiously and said, “Well it’s more important to act like Christ than to wear some trappings!”

    Er, yes, but how often do you see a plain-clothes man doing something nice for someone and think to yourself, “that must be a follower of Christ!” — let alone, “hey, that must be a priest!”

    I love to see priests in collars and the religious in habits. They are evidence of a challenge to the secular world, they reinforce one’s sense of the Church as discernible and active in the world, and they — especially if they smile, as I see so many young women religious do — inspire us to say “Good morning, sister!” “Good morning, Father!”

    It cheers the heart, and thus the Body of Christ works more amiably in the vineyard.

  20. Derik says:

    Happy year of Priests!
    I keep you in my daily prayers

  21. I am really happy to hear that someone thought to greet you, Father, on a plane like that. I don’t fly very often but when I do I really love to see priests and to smile and say hello to them if I can. My boyfriend and I went to daily Mass this morning and we were thrilled to have a bishop from Sri Lanka visiting and celebrating Mass for the Sacred Heart and for the beginning of The Year of the Priests!

  22. k3vin says:

    hardly original on my part, but …
    Happy Year of the Priest! Dominus tecum et cum spiritu tuo!

  23. Justin says:

    Happy Year of the Priest Fr!

  24. Jana says:

    A young Czech dominican priest arrived by plane to the USA. He had his dominican habit on, as always. An American dominican waited for him with a taxi driver. Seeing the habit, the driver asked: “Who is he?” The American friar was embarassed. “He is from Europe”, he said. The driver was relieved. “I almost thought he was a monk…”
    This happened ten years ago.

  25. q7swallows says:

    God bless that young woman!

    In a similar expression of solidarity and support for our pastor for the Year of Priests, some of our newly-trained Latin Mass altar boys showed up this morning (giving up some of their summer holiday freedom) for the usual Friday Latin Mass + Benediction—and they were just expecting to surprise Father and sit in choir for the Low Mass.

    But Father responded by ramping up and having them all serve a [gorgeous] solemn high Mass–a missa cantata–in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. And a single young lady, the sister of one of the altar boys, courageously led the chants. It was beautiful and profoundly moving!

    When the laity gives just a little, they get so much more in return! It was a living portrait of how eager God is to be generous to His people. And to think it came from the initiative of a few boys, and a loving priest whose heart is ever ready to offer God the highest of glories possible!

  26. Paul Q says:

    Hey, I’m not even a priest and it gave ME a shot in the arm!

    To the woman who spoke to Fr. Z: “You go girl!”


  27. “And if someone should give a glass of water to one because he is a disciple…”

    These kinds of things are very refreshing and charitable and a real sign of hope

  28. Andrew, medievalist says:

    What a great idea! I fully intend to flatter her by stealing the idea.

  29. Mr. H. says:

    Fr. Z:

    A wonderful story.

    A big thanks to you and to all the wonderful priests who are making a difference in people’s lives everyday.

    I have put up a tribute to the priests who have made a difference in my life at my blog: http://allhands-ondeck.blogspot.com/2009/06/year-of-priest.html

  30. jarhead462 says:

    Wonderful News! I too will try to copy this woman’s example!
    q7- I wish I had been where you were!

    Semper Fi!

  31. jarhead462 says:

    Sorry, Fr. Z- I forgot to add that I hope all was well on your flight :)

    Semper Fi!

  32. Louis says:

    thanks for the reminder. I forgot it started today. I thought it was the 29th. I just called and emailed some of the Priests that I know.

  33. momoften says:

    You are added to our lists of priests that we pray for every night. You do so much for so many! Thank you and may God give you an abundance of Blessings and graces this year!

  34. Kimberly says:

    Ever since I was a young girl my mother, when she would see a priest in public, would go out of her way and thank the preist for accepting the call to the priesthood, then, she would kiss his hand. Has anyone ever kissed your hand Father?

  35. Fr. Fermoyle from Boston for Now says:

    Hmm, I am glad to hear of this encounter. I have been ordained over 5 years and I have flown in clerics and “in mufti” [boy, my arms were tired…] I have had positive and negative experiences and I have experienced complete and total indifference (though I have never been upgraded – that’s okay). The good, the bad, and the ugly. Nevertheless, travelling can be a great opportunity to witness to Christ and one way the priest does that is to wear distinctive garb – a roman collar, either under the cassock or with a clerical suit. I will be travelling early next week [mixing business and a little vacation] and I was going over in my mind how I would travel. I think this post (not the young ladies kind comments alone, but the input of readers as well) has convinced me to travel in clerics – not for this trip alone, but always when travelling.

    Thank you all for the encouragement.

  36. Sandy says:

    God bless you, Father, in this special year and always. As others have stated, this delightful thing could not have happened without the witness of your clerical garb. That’s also why I love to see nuns in their proper habits – it says more than words can say!

    Fr. Fermoyle from Boston – re your last sentence – way to go!

  37. Mary Rose says:

    Happy “Year for Priests”, Father Z!

    I’ve done something rather quickish, which is a little unlike me. (I’m usually a planner.) I created an online community called “The Catholic Priest Appreciation Network.” It will be a place where Catholics, faithful to the Magisterium, can gather and share inspiring and encouraging stories about how priests have affected their lives in a positive way. I would really like it to be a place where priests could visit, also, to perhaps get a “pick-me-up” after a particularly difficult day. I really want priests to have a place where they are encouraged and appreciated.

    The only stipulation is that this will be a private community. I have no intention to have “trolls” descend upon the site and bash anyone. If anyone is interested, please feel free to email me at zinkpoe”at”gmail”dot”com.

    I’m really looking forward to hearing other people’s stories. I have an absolutely wonderful priest who is definitely responsible for my spiritual growth as a Catholic rediscovering her roots. :-)

    God bless you and all the other priests here. I’ll be focusing on Saint Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney a bit on the site, too.

  38. Maureen says:

    Even people who may rail at priests when they see the collar may be in need of seeing you, Fathers. You never know how the currents of grace are running, and it’s well known that many people get extremely anti-Catholic when they’re teetering on the edge of conversion of heart.

    You may be the only priest someone sees. Bless you for your courage and death to self, whenever you wear your collars.

  39. Paul says:

    What a wonderful uplifting read!

    May our almighty God bless you all.

    Priests, I wonder if you realize how very much it means to many of us, seeing you wearing your clerical clothing.

    May we all wear our “uniform” so others may notice that we are Catholic…by our love.

  40. Jason Keener says:

    Nice story, Father Z. I think we should go out of our way to show our appreciation to Holy Mother Church’s priests and religious. A couple of times when I’ve seen a nun out in public wearing the habit, I’ve made a point to thank the nun for her public witness to Christ and His Church.

  41. Fr K says:

    In our part of the world the most negativity regarding a priest wearing his collar in public comes mainly from ageing women religious, who, of course, wear no identifying garb, except perhaps for ill matched items of clothing and short, gray haircuts. Most other people are fairly indifferent.

    One such sister proudly told whoever would listen how she had ‘told off in no uncertain terms’ a visiting cleric on the steps of St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney for daring to wear a cassock! No, it wasn’t the Pope.

  42. kristen says:

    What a lovely story and a fantastic appearance!

    I work for a well known coffee company, and we have a standing “boys in blue” discount (ok- girls and boys in blue). I have been known to give a “boys in black” (aka: priests) discount, too. I try to give back to priests in town as much as I can.

  43. kristen says:

    What a lovely story and a fantastic experience!

    I work for a well known coffee company, and we have a standing “boys in blue” discount (ok- girls and boys in blue). I have been known to give a “boys in black” (aka: priests) discount, too. I try to give back to priests in town as much as I can.

  44. That is awesome. God bless her!

  45. Elizabeth T. says:

    Happy Year of the Priest Father! Thank you for generously responding to Our Lord’s call to serve the Church! I’m always SO happy to see priests in clerics in public (especially when getting on an airplane!) It is such a great witness!

  46. Tantumergo says:

    One thing we can all do to help ease the burden on priests is to promote vocations to the Priesthood. “The harvest is great but the laborers are few.” Please pray for my son John.
    (is it OK that I’m “yelling?”)

  47. Mary Ann, Singing Mum says:

    Great story, Father! Well, she beat me to it, but I’d like to chime in and wish you a great year as well. This blog has been a source of edification for me. Thank you for your priesthood!

  48. Shows you Father Z that there is hope for the renewal of the Church!

  49. Karen says:

    Okay. Maybe I’m just a “the glass is half full” person. I always smile or greet a priest if I am anywhere near them. I thought “everybody” did. I’m sorry this is a rare enough occasion for you to remark on it!!

    [As regards hand kissing and priests…when my mother was a girl in the 30s and 40s, if you saw the priest in the street, you kissed his hand. This was in Pennsylvania, and they were Eastern Rite Catholics.]

    As a somewhat funny story, I priest I know once told me about his “Round trip” that day up to Los Angeles. He lives in San Diego, and was up there for some all-day priest “thing.” He was tired, and waiting in the LAX lounge for the flight back. Some Jehovah’s Witness came over to him, tracts in hand and said “I’d like to talk to you about JEsus Christ, do you know about Him?” And Father [who had his collar on, and was reading his breviary] looked up at him and said “Yes, I know all about Him — what would YOU like to know?”

  50. Megan says:

    What a wonderful story :) I like this very much – I hope it will catch on!

  51. Sonja says:

    I too never miss a chance thank the American serviceman for their service to our country. I have often gone out of my way to get that chance. They deserve it and I owe it.

    Likewise I nearly always kiss the sacred consecrated hands of the priest after he has offered the Holy Sacrifice. I have never been in an Eastern Rite liturgy so that is not where I learned the custom. Also, a little curtsy is in order if the priest processes past my aisle after the Holy Mass too. There have been times when I’ve traveled about when I’ve seen the entire female congregation drop a few inches in simultaneous curtsy as the priest passed by on his way out and it was a Novus Ordo. It’s feminine and I like it.

    Because of their Holy Orders, priests are not the average Joe. The power of their priestly office is very tangible to me. When a Catholic priest enters the room I am worse than a teenager with a rock star. I have made a total jerk of myself trying to not show how my insides were aflutter just from being in their presence.

    Our faithful Catholic priests rock! Much of my prayers and sufferings are offered up for them.

    I too am from Pennsylvania.

  52. jedesto says:

    Any time is a good time to look a priest in the eye and simply say,
    “Father, thank you for your priesthood!”

  53. irishgirl says:

    Wow-what a great gesture on the part of that young girl!

    If I were in her shoes, I’d do the same thing!

    Happy ‘Year of the Priest’ , Father Z! We love you and all our good and faithful priests!

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