QUAERITUR: Cassock for seminarian

From a reader:

I have a friend entering the seminary soon and we are looking to get him a cassock. I searched high and low for the post from sometime ago about where the best place to get a cassock is, to no avail. Would it be possible for you to send me a link to that post if you happen to be able to find it offhand? Or give me some advice on where to find a good cassock for a new seminarian?


I don’t really have a lot of time to dig this stuff up, and so I ask the help of readers.

Also, he didn’t specify what country he is in.

So… dear WDTPRSers… discuss… good sources of decent off the rack cassocks.

You might also check with John in Church Goods at Leaflet Missal Company, which has a site you can look up.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Mike in KC, MO says:

    My wife sews custom cassocks and vestments for the Institute of Christ the King in the US. you can email me at iowa_cheese@hotmail.com and I can put you in touch with her.

  2. Chris B says:

    Get him a biretta. All the cool kids have one.

  3. ssoldie says:


  4. Alex says:

    I buy my things from St Andew Church SUpply, its in Canada. Of the two cassocks I have I much prefer my Twoomey. I know guys who have the Almy but I think the Twoomey is better. Also,a word of caution depending on the person make sure wants the either the “year rounder” it is lined or the “summer time” which is the one I prefer. I wouldn’t buy a biretta right away, there generally isn’t a reason to wear it. I must admit I am dying to have one. But if he does want one shop around most places start about 75.00. Sometimes you can find a group of guys who order together and get a break that way. I know a guy who got a biretta for $ 50.00. Lastly, while a cassock is a lovely thing to have, and I wouldn’t give mine up for anything, make sure he doesn’t need something more pressing. God Bless you for supporting this young man, I can tell you from my expierence it means a lot.

  5. JPG says:

    In addition to a cassock, I would think a better gift would be suitable reading to help with discernment and right formation. Any suggestions on this note? An acquaintance here in CT starts in September thus I am keenly interested in this thread.

  6. John says:

    My mother would like to make a cassock and surplice for me, but we can’t find patterns anywhere. I think there’s some on ebay, but surely there’s a book or two out there?

  7. J. Basil Damukaitis says:

    It is a right of passage for a seminarian to have as his first cassock, the “Roomy Toomey!” I would recommend against summertime weight at all costs.

    I know a lot, and I can tell you that the summertime cassocks will fade with time, They are made of a cotton/poly blend. I would recommend the year-round style, or a fabric with 0% cotton. It fades and does not hold black (well brown or blue which makes up black dyes) well. If the chap above has a wife who sews cassocks for the Insitite, they are rather particular about their vesture. SO she must be good.

    Otherwise, go with the Toomy or Almy year-rounder.

  8. thereseb says:

    Saw this Butterick pattern here http://marycollingscf.co.uk/items/fabrics~trimmings/patterns/men-s-robe-cassock-b6844-detail.htm.
    I think, although this is a UK website, you can order online. Butterick are a US company, and it has the pattern reference number, so you could maybe contact them direct.

    Don’t let your mother wander round the website unless she is very broadminded – I’m afraid it stocks wimminpriest vestments for Anglicans. ;-)

  9. thereseb says:

    The above also has a section on the EF and altar cloths.

  10. Anthony says:

    Local Church goods stores usually are helpful. A guy entering seminary does not need something terribly expensive. I have a Toomey and it works just fine. House of Hansen has good quality but is a bit pricey. Charbel is another good one, not as pricey.

  11. Alex says:

    Charbel isnt making cassocks right now. Mr. Damukaitis, the only thing is that depending on where you are a “summer time” is the only practical option which is why I mentioned it. I am in CA and would DIE in a year rounder. In some places it is just too hot. I am very cautious in laundering my cassock ( gentle cycle, some gentle soap in an white and blue bottle I let it hang dry, not in the sun on a hanger in the garage, it is holding up well.)

  12. priest up north says:

    I see some good suggestions already. Here is another: The House of Hansen in Chicago.

  13. Charles Ryder says:

    The New Liturgical Movement had a post asking the same question a few months ago. I would simply refer to the comments left there rather than replicating the meme here.


  14. Chris says:

    I am in the process of ordering mine from Renzetti-Magnarelli (http://www.clergyapparel.com). I was sent there by one of our seminarians who started getting his cassocks there when he was studying with FSSP. Apparently a number of the guys at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary go through them. The one he was wearing is 4 years old and looks to be in good shape – he wears his cassock daily.

    Also, please keep this seminarian in your prayers. He is rapidly approaching Ordination for our Diocese and will truly be a gift.

  15. Connie says:

    Find someone who is from Mexico, Vietnam, or the Philippines.
    Those are the best places to get beautiful handmade cassocks
    at a decent price.

  16. Euroclero in Rome sells a mighty fine cassock at a reasonable price. (I always pick one up when I go to Rome.) I heard that Cardinal Ratzinger was one of their customers.

  17. Heather says:

    I have purchased a cassock from this company, Renzetti & Magnarelli, and I know a few seminarians in Winona who have used them…


    However, since your friend is in his first year, I would leave the investment in the more expensive cassock to the 5th year.

  18. Sacristymaiden says:

    This is a good online store for many things liturgical, including cassocks and surpluses, birettas, 1962 missals, Missale Romanums, and TLM server books. We have bought almost all of our missals from here and the quality is great. I also believe there are discounts for clergy and religious, not exactly sure though.

  19. Cortney says:

    I’d suggest a gift certificate in the appropriate amount that the seminarian can use at one of the many places already suggested here–or a donation in cash for the cassock. That way he can select his own style and size cassock and be very content with his gift.

  20. KCLo says:

    My husband is the choir/men\’s schola director and cantor for our Tridentine Rite parish. He needed to wear a cassock and surplice for the Easter Vigil this year (went down to cantor the Litany of Saints)and there were no cassocks available to fit him (he\’s both tall and large). I purchased the XL Butterick pattern (http://www.butterick.com/item/B6844.htm?tab=list/costumes&page=all)and all the materials I needed for approx. $40 at my local fabric store (Jo-ann Fabrics). I used the pattern for cassock (\”robe\”) A. Since my husband is not a priest and I wanted it to match the altar server cassocks at our parish, I modified the pattern by using snaps instead of buttons, made it unlined and did not do the pockets or fancy cuffs (I made hand openings so he could access his pants\’ pockets). I made it in about 3 days. I can\’t believe how well it turned out. Neither could our pastor! He said he pays about $300-400 for a new cassock. He wants me to make a new cassock for him using this pattern. FYI — Father said the traditional priest cassock has 33 buttons down the front (1 for each year of Christ\’s life) instead of the 24 on this pattern. I recommend this pattern. I am not an advanced seamstress but it was easier than I thought. It also works if you have special size needs (each pattern has 3 sizes and you can customize the fit as needed — also for short or really tall man — the pattern indicates where you can shorten or lengthen). Hope this helps.

  21. James says:

    For a nice cassock made here in the US, I recommend House of Hansen in Chicago. My Godfather’s family has run the shop for three generations now. They produce fine quality vestments and clerical attire.


  22. Alex says:

    This places are all great, but until a seminarian nears Holy Orders it is IMHO not very prudent to spend more than $200 on his cassock. The only thing is make sure it is a Roman Cassock and not a servers cassock.

  23. GCC Catholic says:

    If your friend knows his pastor or other priests well, it may be worth him mentioning to them that he is looking for a cassock. I received a cassock from the pastor at my summer assignment last year; it no longer fit him, and he has since been made a monsignor and has another cassock. He was happy to part with it knowing that it would be used. This will be fine for me for as much as I will use it at the moment.

  24. The Rev. says:

    Get a cheap Roman Cassock at first from Toomey’s or Almy’s at first and then if the good Lord is calling you to HO then get a nice one. I would wait until third theology (2nd year for Anglicans) or profession year for religious to get an expensive one. If you are not “average” size it can be a pain to buy a cassock and they will charge you extra to produce a larger or smaller size. If someone offers you an old cassock – take it and have someone tailor it for size.

    God Bless you in your discernment. Pray and study hard.

  25. Archicantor says:

    If ordering from England is an option, the ladies at J and M Sewing Service in Newcastle-upon-Tyne are the acknowledged experts. Indeed, they were recently granted the Royal Warrant, “By Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen, Manufacturers of Clerical Robes”. They do a wide variety of cloths and cuts, from off-the-rack polyester choir cassocks to custom-made gabardine soutanes, and all at very reasonable prices (at least for Rip-Off Britain). I ordered my own cassock from them and was delighted with the service I received and with the final product.

    While I agree with other posters that books would be a wonderful gift too, I think that your idea of giving a cassock is to be encouraged, especially if he’s going to be in a seminary where he will have many opportunities to wear it — or perhaps all the more so if it’s not a cassock-friendly place! It’s not the sort of thing that seminarians (or clergy, for that matter) can ever easily afford.

    Bless you for your generosity.

  26. I usually get mine from Renzetti and purchased one for my parish seminarian there also. They are very high quality and reasonable in price. Also good personal care. I visited their store one time when I was heading to a retreat some years back. They are located in Philadelphia, PA. A few gave the website above, but I wanted to let you know my thoughts on the good quality, etc… http://www.clergyapparel.com

  27. Mike says:

    As a seminarian myself I would suggest getting a “year rounder” and a rabbat. Don’t get a biretta, because it will only cause trouble. As for the surplice get the stile used by the seminary. Finlay a fasica (sp?) is nice but not needed (if you do get one make sure it is the one made for seminarians not priests).

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