The ceremony of the taking of the cassock took place a week after Easter, on April 8, 2018, at Holy Cross Seminary in Goulburn, Australia. Six Seminarians in the Year of Spirituality received the clerical habit.
The director of the seminary, Fr. Daniel Themann, presided over the ceremony, during which 3 South Koreans, 1 Australian, 1 Nigerian, and 1 Filipino received the cassock.
On February 11, 1963, between the first and second sessions of Vatican Council II, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, then Superior General of the Holy Ghost Fathers, recalled in a letter to the congregation’s members the importance of the clerical habit for priests in our increasingly secularized society. He saw it as a separation from the world, a consequence of the call from God, a protection from evil and a testimony to the Faith:
Separated from the World and a Witness of God
“It is clear that the priest is a man who is chosen and set apart from other men. St. Paul (Heb. 7:26) says of Our Lord that He is segregatus a peccatoribus…‘set apart from sinners.’ The priest, whom God has chosen in a special way, must be the same.
“To this first consideration, we must add that of the testimony the priest must give to the world of God, Our Lord. Et eritis mihi testes… ‘You shall be witnesses unto me’ (Acts 1:8). Our Lord speaks often about this witness. Just as He bears testimony to His Father, so we, too, must bear testimony to Him.
“This testimony must be seen and heard easily by all: ‘Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house’ (Matt. 5:15).
The Benefits of Wearing the Cassock
“The priest’s cassock fulfills these two ends clearly and unambiguously: the priest is in the world but not of the world; he is set apart from it even as he lives in it, and he is also protected from evil. ‘I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from evil. They are not of the world, as I also am not of the world’ (Jn. 17:15-16).
“The testimony of the word, which is certainly more essential for the priest than the testimony of the clerical habit, is made much easier by the cassock that is a very clear manifestation of the priesthood.
“As for the secular habit, it removes all differences, and makes this testimony much more difficult and the preservation from evil much less effective. The disappearance of the testimony of the habit is clearly the sign of a lack of faith in the priesthood, a disregard for the religious sense in others, and a form of cowardice, a lack of courage in one’s convictions.”