Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Reflective Triangle To Protect Priests From Exiting Hoards At Mass
Catholics are used to seeing their parish priests wear a variety of different colors on Sunday morning: green, white, purple, blue, red. Soon, they may be seeing another color, blaze orange, thanks to the efforts of a Beachside, Florida priest, who has developed a "slow-moving vehicle" triangle for priests to wear during the recessional hymn at the end of Mass (see right).
"It was a safety measure, really," says Fr. Riley Sloman. He brainstormed the vestment accessory during a brief hospital stay last year after being nearly trampled to death by parishioners eager to be first out of the parking lot.
"People may think it's funny, but it's a real safety concern," Fr. Sloman said. While the Church keeps no statistics on injuries to priests as a result of stampedes out of Mass, Fr. Sloman says he heard from dozens of priests with similar experiences during his hospital stay.
While not a common occurrence, Fr. Sloman says the risk of injury is especially acute when major sporting events (think the Super Bowl and the World Series) are televised right after Mass. Fr. Sloman blames his own incident on overly zealous Florida Gators fans.
"I did hear more jangling car keys than usual after communion," Fr. Sloman said. "That should have been my first warning." He wasn't halfway down the aisle before "they took me down pretty hard."
Fr. Sloman's "slow-moving priest warning triangle" is made of fabric; two clear plastic arm straps make it easy for priests to slip the warning triangle on their back right after the dismissal. Since the safety triangle is not worn during Mass, Fr. Sloman expects it should not violate any liturgical norms, although he is still waiting for approval from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
"I hope it gets the green light," Fr. Sloman said. "No pun intended."
--I.C.'s Better Half, Jovial Catholic