An engaging look inside a Catholic seminary dispels many mysteries.
First-time author Englert was granted and then denied access to seminaries in two separate dioceses before he was permitted to become a fly on the wall at a Wisconsin seminary specializing in second-career aspirants to the priesthood. Focusing on five seminarians at various stages of study, from entering students to those being ordained, he manages to cover a wide range of personal struggles and accomplishments. The narrative moves chronologically through the academic year, allowing the reader to sit in on orientation with incoming students and to leave the seminary for the priesthood with graduates. The seminarians are portrayed warts and all; some have issues that disrupt their studies and derail their candidacy for the priesthood. Yet the reader’s impression of these future priests is brightened by individuals who have overcome adversity and struggled with their calling, sometimes for decades and against great odds. The sexual abuse scandals necessarily color portions of the work, and readers get the chance to see from the inside how this tragedy affects those training for the priesthood. Issues of sexuality, celibacy in particular, are openly discussed, refuting many stereotypes along the way. In addition to examining his subjects’ emotional and psychological makeup, Englert investigates their vocational calling and relationship with God.
Puts a human face on the word “priest.”