SignaturesJaime Fuentes

Sotanosaurs

Fuentes points out that the priest's cassock, in spite of its less and less habitual use, has acquired an unexpected prestige in a secularized society.

May 22, 2022-Reading time: 2 minutes

It was a number of years ago, 1977, if I am not mistaken. The Bishop of San José de Mayo was Monsignor Herbé Seijas, a friend of my family. I was almost a new priest: I had been ordained three years before and in 1974 I had started working in Montevideo.

The fact is that I met Monsignor Seijas here and he immediately asked me if I could go to San José for the weekend, to help with the Masses: - He explained to me that we have several weddings and Masses and there are no priests... I said yes, of course.

The pastor of the Cathedral was Fr. Palermo, so well remembered and so beloved. He gave me a very affectionate embrace when I arrived and, smiling, exclaimed: -You are the last one sotanosaurus!…

Yes, I was then wearing the cassock in which I had been ordained. It was the garment alluse I used to get up and say goodbye to her when I went to bed: Masses, confessions, meetings, meals, walks, bus rides... always with a cassock; it seemed to me the most logical thing in the world.

In our educated lay country, for the record, no one ever commented or laughed or smiled at my cassock. But, as time went on, seeing that its disuse among the clergy was becoming normalized, I decided to reserve it for the celebration of the sacraments and, in all other activities, to wear the black suit (clergyman) with shirt and collar.

Many years have passed (just imagine, next year I will celebrate my 50th anniversary of priesthood, God willing) and we are in times of full freedom. But I note that, in this context, it is the priest's cassock that has acquired an unexpected prestige.

I had an intuition, because when I was wearing it once, now, in our Montevidean streets, I had heard some comments like "look, a father"... Yesterday I had the confirmation of this interesting cultural change.

I had received a call, asking me to go to Médica Uruguaya to attend a lady.

Saturday, from 4 to 6 p.m. visiting hours, here we go, in cassock, to Tower D, 5th floor.

Doorman at the entrance: - Yes, look: go to where the boxes are; take a right and there is the elevator to the fifth floor.

Female elevator operator: - Now I'll drop you off on another floor; go to the bottom and take the elevator to tower D. Goodbye, my pleasure!

Male elevator operator: - How's it going?... Yes, until six o'clock, but every now and then there's a gap and you can air it out a bit. Thank you!

I find the room. The lady is with a companion on duty, who immediately gets up and says how happy I am that she has come; she leaves the room. On the bed next to her is another lady, asleep, also accompanied by herself.

The authorJaime Fuentes

Bishop emeritus of Minas (Uruguay).

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