Wednesday, August 16, 2006

On the Honorific 

We've struggled here at work to try and figure out what I am to be called. I'm comfortable with Ryan, just fine. My business card says, "The Rev. Ryan R. Whitley, Assistant" and that is fine too. Because I am a transitional Deacon, we decided it would be frustrating to all involved to try and teach the parish to say Deacon Ryan or Deacon Whitley for six months and then to switch to Fr. Ryan or Fr. Whitley. So, in public here, I am known as Fr. Ryan. It's how I sign official emails and how I identify myself on posters and announcments in the bulletin and newsletter.

When I make a business phone call to someone, I identify myself as Fr. Ryan. But I feel weird doing it; that part of my new identity hasn't sunk in just yet. Several parishioners have asked me, "What should I call you?" I have told them, "Ryan is fine in settings like this, one on one." One parishioner retorted, "But I would never call [the Boss Man] by his first name." "Well, then, "I said, "in public we've decided on the honorific Fr. Ryan."

That still doesn't take away the uneasiness I get by telling a woman who could be my grandmother to call me "Father". Nor does it take away the uneasiness I get from that pesky Matthew 23:9 passage, either.

But, "Pastor" sounds too, pardon me brothers and sisters of this persuasion, protestant. "Mr." doesn't signify anything besides gender. I'm no doctor, so that won't work. "The Rev." is just cumbersome. And everyone wants to say "Fr." anyway. So, I guess I have to get used to it on the one hand, while not losing my uneasiness about it on the other hand.

I still want my friends and family to call me Ryan, though, and that's final.



What about Randolph? Can we still call you Randolph?

By Blogger Lacy, at 2:12 PM  

Haha...of course Lacy, of course.


By Blogger Ryan, at 2:33 PM  

You think "Father" sounds weird? How about "Mother"?

If male priests are going to use a gender-specific honorific, maybe the female priests should too. Calling the male priest, "Fr. [whatshisname]" and the female priest, "Rev. [whatshername]" seems a bit, well, inequitable.

I remember the Rt. Rev. Gayle Harris, Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of Massachusetts, speaking of a parishioner who continually referred to her as "Father Gayle."

By Blogger Dawgdays, at 3:03 PM  

Ha....I had the same problem. With a little boy am I father, father? Also at least your not the youngest person in the diocese. I went to a confrence the other day and did not wear my collar. Someone asked if I was looking for my mom or dad.

By Anonymous Mitchell Smith, at 4:58 PM  

"Brother" is good too. :-)

- Sherriff

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:54 PM  

You will get used to it.
A lot depends on the area you are in. Here on the Coast the Romans are the majority, so folks are very accustomed to Father Knight or Father David. For our young folks I prefer Father David to Mr. or just David. For my adult parishioners, as you are doing already, I let them choose but tell them that David is fine with me.
No one should ever be called Reverend Smith. It's a title, The Reverend, not a name. It's like a judge being called The Honorable Blah Blah, but is addressed Your Honor, never Honorable Jones. The article should always precede Reverend.
And again depending on the folks I am with, Pastor works well here in the buckle of the Bible belt.

By Blogger David, at 10:40 AM  

Oh, and when I told my youngest that we would be moving so I could go to seminary and become a Priest, he thought for a minute and asked - "do I have to call you Father Daddy?"

By Blogger David, at 10:41 AM  

No, father doesn't work for me (although my dad has amused himself by referring to me as "Father Daughter" ever since I was ordained).

As to my parishioners, a good many of them simply call me Jane. Those who don't, vary between the other options-- Mother (a distinct minority), Pastor and Reverend. I know the latter is not correct; however, with rare exceptions, I don't see the virtue in correcting someone's grammar. Certainly not in a pastoral moment!

By Blogger Jane Ellen+, at 8:16 PM  

Yup. Like Jane, I get a variety of stuff... I'm fine with "Susie" (my boss goes by his first name too). But I prefer "Pastor" as a title... partly the low-church thing (duh), but also because its not gender-specific.

Although, I do like the idea that we should just go by "Priest So&So", just like you'd be "Deacon Ryan" or "Bishop Whoever".

And Mitch (hi!) - yup... i'm youngest here too. I get asked "Oh, are you part of the youth delegation?" at stuff a lot.

By Blogger Susie, at 9:08 PM  

I think it is a shame you have decided to negate your experience as a Deacon. And for convience jump to the title and style of a priest, which you ARE NOT! Don't you think the church and bishops have made you a deacon for a period of time for a reason? Big breeches I think?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:56 AM  

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