QUAERITUR: What to give to a newly ordained priest?

From a reader:

First, thank you so much for the work you do each day on your blog, in your articles, and everything else you do in your ministry. I know it gives constant support and inspiration to many.

A friend of mine will be ordained a priest in about a month and I am interested in getting him a gift or two. I feel like you have discussed this elsewhere, although I cannot seem to find the page. If you have, I am sorry for the redundancy but would truly appreciate if you could offer some good suggestions for gift ideas and/or places (preferably with websites) that I could buy from. Additionally, I’m not sure if it matters due to specific order regulations, but he is a Jesuit (and a wonderful orthodox one at that!).

Thank you again for any help or advice you can offer.

This is the season for ordinations, to be sure.

I have sometimes recommended gift cards or certificates.  Perhaps for books, to Amazon? A clerical/religious goods store?

You can perhaps do something collectively, so that as a small group you could give something larger, such as a set of Roman vestments or a nice 1962 Missale Romanum.

Perhaps the readers would like to chime in to say what they have recently, or no so recently, given to the newly ordained.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Scotch. Single malt. Aged at least 15 years.

  2. A purple miniature stole, small enough to be tucked into a matching case and carried in a pocket.

  3. Kerry says:

    If the newly ordained purchase their own Berettas, perhaps some ammunition would make a nice gift…

  4. kribensis says:

    Gold cufflinks or a nice letter-opener (very useful!)

  5. Scott W. says:

    Scotch. Single malt. Aged at least 15 years.

    I certainly second a good bottle of booze. I would however find out what his drink is. While I enjoy Scotch, as hard as it is to believe, there are some that don’t.

    But to be more general, my guess is new priests get showered with useful items and religious items. Get them something for relaxation and diversion.

  6. PhilipNeri says:

    A note on gifts for newly ordained religious priests: typically, religious priests live in community and do not enjoy the storage/living space that our secular brothers enjoy (e.g., one room in a house as opposed to the whole house). So, items like vestments, statues, etc. can become small burdens to store. Also, religious priests tend to move around a lot, so packing, shipping, etc. can be something of a problem as well. Fr. Z. offers the best suggestion, I think: gift certificates to a book store or restaurant. Few would frown on a nice bottle of something fermented or a box of good cigars! And let’s not forget the old standby–cash!

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  7. Andy Milam says:

    A friend of mine and I “reclaim” older and somewhat “defeated” chalices/patens. We have them reconstituted, blessed and we will give them. Now these are for the priests we know and like. If we aren’t so close to them, we’ll usually give them something more akin to a Surplice or Missal…

  8. CBM says:

    Though no longer “newly ordained” I can testify that the best gift is cash. We need lots of things and each of us have our own tastes. In my experience the taste of the gift giver does not often correspond to my own. I have received some things (given with the best of intentions and at no small cost) that are so repulsive that they remain in a box in my closet to this day! So bad (stoles with faces of children, chasubles with tacky Jubilee logos and unspeakable “vessels”) that they I would never inflict them on others.
    Please cash is not crass, it gets you what you need and will use.

  9. Random Friar says:

    Ask if he has a wish list, or look for one online at Amazon, etc.

  10. William of the Old says:

    You may want to consider The Catholic Priest, Image of Christ, available at Ignatius Press: http://www.ignatius.com/Products/CPIC-H/the-catholic-priest-image-of-christ.aspx
    It is absolutely stunning and will be a constant reminder of his vocation.

  11. Jack Hughes says:

    I would say that it depends on how well you know the Priest to be, if for example he is your son and you he has an eye for Gothic Vestments, you know his measurements and your budget will stretch that far then a nice set of handmade Vestments would be wonderful, simliar if perhaps slightly less expensive items e.g. nice 1962 Alter Missal/1962 Brivery if he is your best friend.

    However if you don’t know the Priest that well/or he is a quiete soul then something that doesn’t cost to much, is reasonably tasteful and he will be able to use in his Minastry would be appropriate e.g. a Baptism Shell, a nice pyx ect ect, or you could take Fr. CBM’ suggestion and give him cold hard cash.

  12. EWTN Rocks says:

    How about something old and unique like a 1930s or 40s Roman Missile that is in excellent condition and has good illustrations?

  13. Random Walk says:

    Our local KoC council recently got up a chasuble and kit – albeit for an existing priest.

    (we had to state specifically that it was “Rose”, not “Pink”… long story, and slight inside joke involved. s’all I’m gonna say on that one. :) ).

    The prices are up there but not impossibly high. On the other hand, a basic vestment kit might come in handy for a freshly minted Priest, especially if he gets assigned to a small or brand new parish that may not quite have as much gear as they need (yet). Doubly so if the guy is shorter than usual in stature, or taller than usual in stature, or a bit overweight, or any other condition where a standard size won’t quite fit.

    That said, I would recommend that if you do it, you get some friends together and pitch in for one. I’ve seen ’em as low as $100 online, but they can easily climb up to $1k or more USD from the looks of it. The average for a good set seems to be around $200 for a good, basic kit. If you’re really handy with a sewing machine, making one would be fairly easy to do also.

    I’m not too awful qualified to say, but I guess that you may want to stick with basic colors, maybe something that can be worn during Ordinary Time, so it can get the most use. Or, perhaps purple or pin-err, “Rose” (heh), if the Priest’s destination is a small/new parish, since the parish will likely have OT colors, but maybe not the rarer ones for Advent, Easter, etc. Fr. Z or any Priest/Deacon could probably make the best call here…

    PS: CBM (above) has the best idea IMHO, but if you insist on vestments, follow his advice on avoiding anything flashy or over-done. Keep it basic. :)

  14. MJ says:

    I went to ordinations last year – knew two of the to-be-ordained- and decided to give them each a few books from a catholic bookstore. I tried to choose ones I didn’t think they’d already have from seminary – like a book on the life of Fulton Sheen, etc.

  15. Fr_Sotelo says:

    CBM is right. The best gift, hands down, is cash. The newly ordained will use it to pay bills, re-pay loans from his education, put a down payment on a car, or acquire the things which he likes. It is a gift which will positively be used. I have never, ever heard of a newly ordained putting cash in mothballs, re-gifting it to someone else, or just leaving it behind when he moved to another parish.

    If you give anything that is not cash, do so with the understanding that if the newly ordained does not like it, he will get rid of it, and you may see “it” on another priest, at the parish of first assignment, or heaven forbid, at a future rummage sale of the Altar Society. Priests move around too much these days to hold onto things which were gifted but are not agreeable to the priest for one reason or another.

  16. To paraphrase Phil Gramm, every newly ordained priest’s best friend (for that matter, every priest’s best friend, no matter how many years ordained) is ready cash. Don’t for a moment think that it is crass to give cash. Men emerge from the seminary with little or no money and often with heavy education debts. Don’t choose for him by giving gift certificates or books he already has or doesn’t want or religious art or artifacts that aren’t his taste. Just give him the money, and he will be forever grateful.

    Here endeth the lesson:)

  17. Joe in Canada says:

    Another not-so-new priest chiming in here, but I agree with Fr Z and with Fr_Sotelo and CBM. Gift certificates or cash are the best, unless you know that the ordinandus needs/wants/is looking for a specific item. And if you are involved with the Knights of Columbus, I encourage you to consider not giving a chalice or vestments unasked for. Almost certainly wherever Father is assigned to will have these things. Again, unless you know explicitly something in particular he is asking for.

    In some places the (secular) parish priest gets a car allowance but is expected to provide his own car. If the newly-ordained priest is young, he might not ever have bought one. I mention this as an example of something that often people don’t think of.

  18. scarda says:

    Cash is a very nice gift to give throughout the seminary years, but for ordination I like to give a good linen alb. One can always tuck a check into the alb, of course.

  19. PostCatholic says:

    I’m sure I mostly give newly ordained Catholic clergy headaches. :)

    Most clergy of any religion live on modest means and cash, gift cards to bookstores, and other little luxuries are very much appreciated. At a recent UU ordination I attended the congregation presented a stole hand-stitched by its members with emblems of personal significance to the ordinand.

  20. Give a copy of one of the editions of the new translation Altar Missal — he may find that there will be resistance to “the expense” of replacing the old version. Next, oil stocks: get something worthy, not brass or pot metal.

    Finally, and I know there will be those who disagree: do not give vestments. Almost every priest has vestment gifts that he never uses (or that he has had to give away). Do not assume you know the priest’s taste — unless he has told you exactly which item he wants.

    And–again I know this will cause frowns–do not give him a chalice and paten, or a ciborium, unless you are wealthy enough to give a worthy one in sterling or other precious metal. Like unusable vestments, most priests have altar-wear gifts that are cheap brass, ugly, and generally unworthy. If the priest wants one of those, there will be plenty in his parish sacristy. Thus my suggestion of an oil stock, where “worthy” is within nearly everyone’s price range.

    Finally, a spiritual bouquet is always welcome.

  21. Random Walk says:

    “And if you are involved with the Knights of Columbus, I encourage you to consider not giving a chalice or vestments unasked for. ”

    For the record, the another priest had asked us to get it for him as a needed gift – my apologies for not including that bit. The reason why is part of the aforementioned inside joke: The old one IIRC was an unmistakable and quite literal baby-girl pink. :)

  22. Random Walk says:

    D’oh! pardon my typo and kindly remove the first “the” you see :)

  23. RichR says:

    The OP mentioned the Ordinand is a Jesuit. Doesn’t everything they own become the property of the Society? If so, then cash or gift cards is the way to go.

  24. tmjost says:

    How about a spiritual bouquet? You have a month or at least a few weeks to say rosaries, or offer little acts of sacrifice or prayers for the soon to be priest. Regardless, it is a gift that he needs, hopefully wants, and it will be a one of a kind gift. It will help him with his vocation, and encourage him as he begins to serve God as a priest.
    We did this with our children for our pastor’s 30th Anniversary, and the kids were in on it too. They wrote their sacrifices or prayers on little slips of paper, and we put it in a jar. For the Anniversary “gift”, I wrote in the card the bouquet offered for his priesthood. (you could still slip some cash in the envelope ;)

  25. Joe in Canada says:

    Remember, if he belongs to a religious order, any gifts of money will be handed over, unless he has made special arrangements. In my experience, superiors are better about allowing them to keep gift certificates than cold hard cash.

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