ASK FATHER: Gifts for new deacons and priests

‘Tis the season for ordinations!

I am getting lots of questions about what to give the newly ordained.

First and foremost, cash and gift cards are always welcome. It doesn’t seem very personal, but unless you are pretty close to the ordinand, well… I’ll put this delicately… we don’t mind one little bit.

For my next ordinations… as if that’s going to happen!… I’ll take ammo.  Thanks in advance.

If you are looking for a book, try The Spirit of the Liturgy by Joseph Ratzinger, though there is a strong chance that he’ll have it already.  Another thought is something I have been reading during the last few days.  I think it is going to be a great go-to tool in the future, as it provides excellent arguments, responses, and quotes.  I am already thinking about how I can mine it for upcoming talks. Non-Negotiable: Essential Principles of a Just Society and Humane Culture by Sheila Liaugminas.  It is new, so it is unlikely that he’ll have it.

If you go for books, and one link will lead to another, please use my amazon search box.

A gift certificate for your local clerical/religious goods store could work.  He is going to have to buy some clerical stuff along the way.

You can perhaps do something collectively. A small group could give something larger, such as a set of Roman vestments or a 1962 Missale Romanum, the missal of St. John XXIII.

If you are in doubt, if you don’t know where a shop is, if you have no idea what you are doing, and even though you may in fact have a good clerical shop near where you live, in these USA you can always get good help from John in church goods at Leaflet Missal Company in St. Paul, MN.  He is as traditional as you would ever want, and he can get his hands on just about anything and ship it.   You can waste time running around wringing your hands, looking for a place, or you can make a few calls and get the job done.  And the people at Leaflet are super.  They even give seminarians jobs during the summer if they need them.

And there are always 5 pound packs of Mystic Monk Coffee and other things from their swag store.  HERE  And there is my swag store too!  HERE

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. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    A spiritual bouquet, of course, but beyond that, just cash. Not even gift cards (how that idea ever took off I have no idea), but cash. And just cash.

  2. lmrook says:

    What about a gift for a 10 year ordination anniversary (FSSP priest)?

    [See the above.]

  3. pray4truth says:

    Thank you, Fr. Z… this is VERY HELPFUL!!!
    you d’ best! :-)

  4. PhilipNeri says:

    Cash & coffee. . .yes to both. Please keep in mind that the newly ordained will likely be moving around a bit during his first decade as a priest, so it might be a good idea to avoid giving him things that will need to be packed and moved. . .except books, of course! This advice goes double for friars of the itinerant orders. I’ve been ordained ten yrs and I’ve moved at least six times and two of those were to and from Rome. Also, we itinerant friars tend not to keep our own vestments (poverty and all). We use what’s available wherever we go. Same goes for Mass kits, personal chalices, etc.

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  5. MattH says:

    If you can get together a large group of people, a car. The parish my wife grew up in has done this twice for newly ordained priests. My understanding is that few seminarians have vehicles, but clearly a new associate pastor needs to be able to get around. Obviously, this only works if you can raise quite a bit of money and if you are positive you are going to select one that will work for the person is question.

  6. Echoing Dr. Peters…Cash, not gift cards.

    I am hesitant to say this, because I certainly grateful for people giving me gift cards, but…

    They are a pain. I end up carrying them around for awhile, till I have a chance to use them. Then I forget I have them. And some of them expire. And some have other complications.

    [Of course there are some cards which you can use online. I am always happy to see amazon gift cards arrive either in snail mail or email. And… and… you can use my search box to purchase and send them!]

  7. Cafea Fruor says:

    Well, the one time I knew someone well enough to give him a gift for his priestly ordination, I also knew him well enough that I could just ask, “I’d really like to give you something. What do you need?” And he told me there was a very specific, pocket-sized liturgical book that he needed, so I gave him that and then made a spiritual bouquet as well.

    But if you don’t know someone well enough to ask like that and are dead set on giving something other than plain cash and want to spend money rather than just pray yourself for the guy being ordained, the gift of having Masses said for him is always greatly appreciated. I have several old school friends and classmates who are priests now, and they all say that the first year is probably the hardest, and so you could have Masses said for him to get him the grace to get through that first year. At the usual $10 per Mass, you could have a Mass said for him once a month for a year for only $120. And seriously, that would be the gift that keeps on giving.

    Another idea I’ve heard of is, in lieu of cash (though I don’t understand why some people are so against giving cash), particularly for diocesan priests who may now be driving much more than they did in seminary (going on sick calls, trips to and from the chancery and tribunal from potentially far-out parishes, etc.) is giving gas gift cards. Or gift cards for things like oil changes and maintenance — Most of my friends who are priests went to seminary right out of high school or right out of college, and so they never had full-time jobs to afford them nice cars, and some of them kinda had the same jalopies they drove in high school. Gift cards for maintenance to keep the clunker running in decent shape for those 2:00 a.m. visits to the hospital in a bad part of town would be super-helpful for someone in that situation.

  8. vetusta ecclesia says:

    I am unhappy with “clusters of belief”. Why “Roman” vestments? There seems to be a trend among traddies that these are a sine qua non for the usus ant. Personally, as a Pugin fan, I prefer the gothic style. [But that isn’t the topic here. If, for my anniversary, you want to band together with some people and get me some Pugin vestments, I’d write about it here and post photos. Okay… back to the topic.]

  9. Priam1184 says:

    Thanks Father.

  10. Mike says:

    In my case the candidate is making his solemn profession as a Benedictine monk. Giving cash to a newly minted diocesan priest would, I agree, be just the thing, but perhaps not to a man taking a vow of poverty. (Giving cash to the monastery, perhaps to have Masses said, would seem more appropriate.)

    Anyhow I already bought him some soap from the Dominican Nuns of Summit, N.J., but I like some of the other ideas I’ve read here.

  11. Bea says:

    We always give cash/check.
    Unless you know the priest very well and knowing he’ll be honest about a wish list (sometimes out of modesty they may not list their expensive “likes”), I’d stick to cash. That way he can buy what he wants and/or needs.

  12. ASPM Sem says:


    Can confirm cars would be appreciated.

  13. Frank H says:

    We gave our son, a newly ordained transitional deacon, a set of the great Daniel Mitsui’s art depicting the mysteries of the rosary. It was the proverbial home run!

  14. Hm, umm…getting with the program…

    Amazon cards are usable online — they’re great!

  15. APX says:

    The last ordination gift I gave was $100 cash tucked into a copy of St. Joseph Cafasso’s book, “The Priest: The Man of God” along with some of St. Alphonsus Liguori’s writings to counsel confessors.

  16. APX says:

    I forgot to add, the other gift I like to give to priests is a novena of Masses.

  17. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Last year I gave a newly ordained priest a biretta from Gammarelli.

  18. Precentrix says:

    ISBN 978-1481285308


    Though one might hope that it had already been read.

  19. Random Friar says:

    I will add that religious articles are generally not necessary. If I kept every rosary I was given, I would have a shipping container full. I give them away at Funeral Vigils or Pro-Life prayer groups, for people who do not have one. Same thing with particular devotions. I like the Divine Mercy chaplet, but I could run a small bookstore just for Divine Mercy. Statues generally take up precious room. In other words, if you give a priest or religious a religious article, it may well be re-gifted.

    Unless you know that he will want a specific religious good, it’s best to perhaps see if he has an Amazon Wish List, or any other gift card/cash. The one unsolicited religious good I appreciated was being enrolled in various perpetual prayer associations. It’s good to know I’ve got some prayer with me, from many good monks and nuns.

  20. M. K. says:

    Mike wrote: “Giving cash to a newly minted diocesan priest would, I agree, be just the thing, but perhaps not to a man taking a vow of poverty. (Giving cash to the monastery, perhaps to have Masses said, would seem more appropriate.)”

    As a religious, I would actually advise against giving cash to the community if one’s intention is to give a gift that will help the ordinand. Yes, in some sense giving money to the community will contribute to the ordinand’s practical support, but (again, speaking from my concrete experience as a religious) I think it’s actually more helpful to give the ordinand something practical that he can actually use in his ministry – and it could be a good idea to ask him what he actually needs before you order something.

  21. BLB Oregon says:

    I hope the exception to “no gift cards” is a credit at the bookstore at their seminary, which can essentially order anything whatsoever. It is a little like getting on Amazon via Fr Z’s website.

    Keep in mind that if he belongs to a religious order, any cash he gets will be turned over to the general fund right off the bat. On the other hand, if he gets a really nice polo shirt, his brothers might wear it, so that’s presumably the life he wants!

  22. Deacon Nathan Allen says:

    I received a beautiful pyx for my ordination from a priest friend who has since gone to his eternal reward. Marvellous gift.

  23. APX says:

    I’m surprised no one mentioned it yet, but what about giving the newly ordained an ordination tambourine? Could make the gift opening brunch more entertaining.

  24. Jenson71 says:

    You can never go wrong with a banjo for a priest’s first official rousing rendition of ‘Gather Us In.’

  25. acricketchirps says:

    I send cash, but ask for Masses–so I guess I’m a tightwad–not really giving a gift at all.

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