Yesterday I went to one of archbishop Dolan's "cookouts" for the priests of the Archdiocese of New York. Of course it wasn't outside, because it was a rainy and gloomy day, but in the big room in the seminary gym where we are occasionally summoned for meetings and presentations.
It's a little bit intimidating to walk into a room full of a few hundred priests (including a few bishops, too.) To me, priests--by appearance--seem to fall into a handful of types, so each one looks like you know him or must have met him somewhere along the way. We were instructed to dress casually, and most seemed to have complied. You can always tell which priests generally wear clerics all the time and which religious their habits, because their casual clothes will be really out of date or terribly mismatched. Others, of course, are as stylish as could be. Following his own advice, the archbishop soon appeared wearing a Milwaukee Brewers shirt and a baseball cap from the Yonkers police. He worked the room, using one hand to shake hands with each priest and other to hold his beer. He made a forceful and encouraging impression, I have to admit.
There were long tables covered with picnic gingham and set with silver colored plastic cutlery. There was a lot of food: hot dogs, hamburgers, corn, chili, chicken, ribs, sausage and peppers, and potato salad. The woman serving the hamburgers turned out to be a Salvadoreña and another friar and I talked to her a little about El Salvador. Seeing that he didn't have one, I told the bartender to put out a tip cup. Priests are almost invariably cheap this way, but that was no reason to give up, I said.
All in all, it was very enjoyable. There's another one coming up for lay religious, and some of our friars are going. Do you think I could get away with it if I went too?