Funnel Neck Coats And Winter Commitals

Darlings, what we have here in Massachusetts is a good old-fashioned blizZARD, emphasis on the last syllable. The weather people are calling it a BOMB CYCLONE, which is such an overdramatic touch I can’t help but laugh.
Lord Jesus, what will they think of next.

We’ve had to close the church but our roof is new and I have confidence in it, although of course I’m worried about all our folks and their kids and their chickens — parishioners down the street are bringing theirs in to wait it out in the basement. This seems like it would be pretty challenging so I’ll probably head over tomorrow to take a peek and offer some libations or cabbage soup.

Ministry does go on even in the worst of weather conditions, which reminds me of a friend who had a commital to do today in New York state, where the weather is just as bad as it is here in eastern MA. I wondered if perhaps there was a would be a way for her to remain in a car and say the appropriate prayers over a loudspeaker while all the bereaved cracked their windows to hear her, but of course that was just wishful thinking trying to spare her a mouthful of snow and the mourners a mighty bleak farewell with possible pneumonia after the fact. What a sorry time to lose a loved one, and my heart is with them.
God bless the gravediggers, too, which is a grim job indeed, and how do they even get through the frozen ground? Truly a job that “someone’s gotta do,” for which I hope they are very well-compensated.

My colleague wondered about wearing a stole over her coat and I didn’t think that was necessary at all, given that it would take all her attention just to read the rites in wet squalling winds and she didn’t need a stole flying all over the place and potentially wacking her about the head. A mutual friend recommended putting her readings in plastic covers. Those of you who have done the priestly honors in such dire conditions, would you comment about how you handled the elements and your prayerbooks or folios? I am not sure what I would do — does a Kindle work in the wet snow? I hope I never have to find out.

But let’s talk outerwear. I know that some of you serve in traditions that include the cloak, a mighty fancy garment about which I admit some degree of envy.


I will have to make do with my funnel neck style overcoat which did prove exceptionally warm and protective during a recent very cold commital.

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It looks similar to the Cole Haan number above, which I saw on sale at Zulily today right here. (I buy a lot of things from Zulily and I recommend them for deals. Always let Google be your friend and double check the price other sites because sometimes Zulily isn’t the bargain it claims to be. You can’t return things and they take awhile to arrive but overall I have been very happy with my purchases and customer service. I’ve made out with some excellent deals over the years and very few disappointments)

A funnel neck is elegant and classic and professional. It renders a big bulky scarf unnecessary and one could, if one wanted, drape a stole nicely around it.

Next up: hats!

5 Replies to “Funnel Neck Coats And Winter Commitals”

  1. Not complaining, just saying that we’ve had -10 to -15 nights since before Christmas. Surely not complaining, though – much. In SW Minnesota the grave diggers begin thawing the ground 24 hours before the interment by using something that looks like a flame thrower. Or, depending on the hardiness of the family, we wait until warmer weather. I secure my manuscript pages (in a 6×9 black binder) with paper clips – one or two per page – which makes it easier to turn and hang onto them. Hope you all warm up well and stay safe.
    [Thanks for the insider scoop on the grave preparation! Best to you in the land of 10,000 lakes! – PB]

  2. Two different experiences with winter weather. . both in Michigan. Burial of teen victim of car accident. . .snowing, three feet on the ground already, the Funeral Home had a tent up and had mostly shoveled a path to the tent (a very rural cemetary). I think I was wearing every piece of warm clothing I had. I was just family at that service 18-20 people, so we fit under the tent well. Funeral at the church later in the day, standing room only with the HS (across the street) letting out early for kids to come over. Second one, a still born. Cold, but only remainders of snow on the ground. Service done in the chapel at the Cemetery. Best to ask those who are in the know (so you are in the know, too.)

  3. Have had blizzard conditions and improperly prepared cemetery grounds. Thankfully I have a black cappa negra and pull the hood up. I use my service book and it gets wet but that’s okay. You can see where I’ve done interments in the wet and baptisms with lots of water splashes. And that’s okay. The graveside is generally a 10 minute service at the most and we head back to vehicles to get warm. Where I am the funeral director leaves the engine running while the service of committal is on so we can get back in and thaw as quickly as possible.

    On more than one occasion I’ve gathered a child or two under my cappa negra so we can all stay warm in the wind. In some areas the burial does not happen in the winter, but in Spring once the ground thaws. The groundskeepers are good folks to know and can put up a tent if it’s needed to help break the force of the rain or wind.

  4. The first committal I ever did was in flurrying snow in Cornish NH in January. A stiff breeze was blowing, the temperature below freezing. The small graveyard looked out over the Connecticut River to Mount Ascutney. When I saw this view, I knew I could do this task. Being warm helped my confidence.
    I wore boots, a full-length cloak with armholes, a black felt beret, and wrist length black leather gloves inherited from my mother, who wore gloves all the time in the 1950s. My notes were on large file cards, in saran wrap (you know this was a while ago), but mostly I sang hymns: I didn’t need notes for that (just a voice I had warmed up in the car on the way there. Once out of the car, my neck was kept warm by a fleece neck-warmer we used to be able to get in Vermont.) I invited the gathered family to join me in singing. We laid their loved one’s ashes in the earth she loved so passionately.

    [Thank you for this great story. Aren’t vintage gloves the BEST? – PB]

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