When four new priests were ordained by Bishop Kevin Vann on June 6, their friends and relatives likely presented them with gifts to begin their parish ministries.
The Diocese of Orange’s Father Brandon Dang, director of the Office of Vocations, recalls that he created for his loved ones a custom gift registry of items, including “tools of the trade” he needed and wanted prior to his 2016 ordination.
“A lot of times when kids do show-and-tell in their classrooms they have career day, [with] police officers, firefighters,” Fr. Dang explains. “What really intrigues the kids is their trucks and gear. I treated my ‘gear’ like that, determining the things I needed in my calling.”
Most important for new priests are, of course, ongoing prayers for the success of their vocations, Father Dang says. But in addition, new priests need chasubles, or the colorful robes worn to celebrate Mass, a sick-call kit with all the materials necessary to perform the blessings of the sick anywhere they are called, and even a portable Mass kit for mobile celebrations.
“In seminary as we learn about our work, we kind of know the requirements and we ask our brothers ahead of us what we need,” Father Dang remembers. “There isn’t a formal list, but we know the essentials we need to get started.”
In advance of his ordination, he created a prayer card featuring one of his favorite prayers from St. Ignatius Loyola – the Suscipe, or the Prayer of Surrender, which ends with the phrase: “Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me.”
“On the devotional side, a new practice for new priests is to develop prayer cards and hand them out at their ordination,” he explains. “It gives people the opportunity to pray for the new priests, and it offers a partial indulgence which is attached to newly ordained priests in their first year.”
As seminarians, priests-to-be begin wearing clerical collars and black shirts, available online from stores such as Cotter Church Supply and in person from the Christ Cathedral Store.
In addition, custom chasubles – often in green, white, purple, rose, black, and red — often are ordered from Chagall Design Limited in Carson or overseas manufacturers, Fr. Dang notes, although many parishes have chasubles and other materials available. They also wear stoles under their chasubles and while celebrating sacraments.
Priests need a number of ritual books, including Roman missals and books related to the sacraments. Chrism oil and the ambry, or the container used with it, also are needed to give sacraments such as baptism or anointing the sick.
It’s become tradition for each priest’s chalice to be gifted to them by their family, with the analogy of giving their sons to the Church, but Fr. Dang notes that he was blessed to be given a hand-me-down chalice left behind by a retired priest at his first assigned parish, Our Lady Queen of Angels Parish in Newport Beach.
One relatively new practice is priests wearing wedding rings. “A group of my classmates in the seminary just got wedding bands and all of us talked about it,” he says, “because our thought was that we are marrying the Church in concept, carrying out her sacraments. My mother gave mine to me.”