Warm tales of Catholic childhood by a professional storyteller. The only son of an Irish Catholic mother and a Protestant father, Stivender received a seven-course Catholic upbringing with all the trimmings. His training as a ``young Catholic Gentleman'' starts at Holy Cross Elementary School, where he learns the ``first rule of Catholic Education'' from Sister Virginia Mary: ``Make sure there is room for your Guardian Angel between you and your seat partner.'' Nuns dazzle him: ``I caught her scent. It was the most wonderful scent of a woman I have ever smelled. No perfume, no deodorant, no hair spray, not even talcum powder...she smelled holy.'' Stivender learns to walk in silent single file, a discipline that he calls ``the Catholic contribution to the peace movement of the sixties.'' Confession and Communion fill him with bliss, although at First Communion he forgets where he is, tilts his head back, and goes ``Ahhh.'' He marvels at the host, ``bread shaped into a circle and pressed almost into the second dimension.'' At Camp Columbus, he sees a priest's bare arm for the first time. A Catholic (JFK) runs for President; the Virgin appears at Stivender's bedside; a fundamentalist neighbor tells him that ``My daddy says nothin' in the world stranger'n a Catholic.'' The epiphanies of boyhood flood the book--first train set, first Cub Scout uniform, first job (as a shoeshine boy), first crush on a girl--but, here, they're wrapped in an all-encompassing faith, recounted with affection, great timing, and just the right dash of bittersweetness. A feast of good feelings: a Catholic Garrison Keillor, with less literary polish but just as much soul.